Know Before You Go: Seven Important Lessons from Skiers and Snowboarders

For some, winter means staying indoors and watching the snow fall softly with a cup of hot cocoa, but for many Michiganders and winter visitors, the snowy season means plenty of powder and plenty of opportunity to shred the slopes

Layer up with gear from the Pure Michigan store!

If you’re a seasoned ski or snowboard fanatic, you may have already learned some of these lessons the hard way (and now have a funny tale to tell), but if you’re a winter warrior ready to strap on some skis and give it a try, keep these do’s and don’ts for a successful ski or snowboard experience in mind – no matter how obvious they seem!  

DO: Layer up. Suiting up with the right clothing is very important before strapping on a pair of skis or buckling up your snowboard boots. There’s no need for expensive ski clothes your first-time out. Consider some long underwear, a turtleneck, fleece and some kind of insulating leg wear to wear under a winter jacket and waterproof snow pants. A pair of waterproof winter gloves is a good idea, too.  When you know you’re hooked on skiing or snowboarding, you can upgrade your wardrobe with some new winter weather gear from the Pure Michigan Store. Wearing comfortable and warm clothes will allow you to stay out on the slopes longer. So, unless you’re heading to the ski resort spa, you can leave the shorts and tanks at home!

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Proper equipment is a must! – Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

DON’T: Let your friends be your ski instructors. Even if your friends or family members ski and want to teach you, investing in a ski lesson is a better bet to ensure your success on the slopes. You’ll get started with a quality base of ski knowledge, and the individual attention will help you progress faster. Ski resorts often offer specials on lessons for first-timers. Ski Snowboard Michigan can help you find the right one for you. 

DO: Use proper equipment. Ski goggles are a must for both beginners and experts. Goggles reduce the sun’s glare during the day, and can protect your eyes from a fall or an unforeseen tree! Also, consider renting equipment instead of buying new or borrowing a friend or family members’ old pair of dated skis or boots. Buying new ski or snowboard equipment can be expensive, but learning to ski on a modern pair of skis is not only safer than skiing on old skis, but, it will help you progress faster. For beginners just starting out, renting is the way to go.

Photo via @Boyne.Mountain on Instagram

Mind the ski lift and have fun! – Photo via @Boyne.Mountain on Instagram

DON’T: Forget to pay attention to the chairlift. Every year, countless skiers and snowboarders get wrapped up in the excitement of a completed run or the beauty of the scenery and aimlessly get bumped or fall off the chairlift. You never want to be “that person” that holds up the line. Always stay alert and aware of your surroundings!

DO: Know your limits. There’s no shame in taking a few falls while getting used to the sport on a smaller hill. Ask any expert snow sports enthusiast – it all comes with practice. Too slow and too fast are often times right next to each other for beginners. Go at your own pace and stick with it!

photo-credit-Joey-Wallis-2-permission-requested

Know your limits and work your way up! – Photo by Joey Wallis, Mount Bohemia

DON’T: Head down a black diamond your first time on the hills. Besides losing most of your gear after you inevitably wipe out, you’re risking serious injury. Build up to harder slopes as you gain more experience. It is important to choose a ski resort with a good beginner’s area. You want wide, not very steep slopes. And more than just one “bunny hill”, so you can work your way up gradually.

DO: Head to Michigan.org to find  the best places to carve up the slopes this winter. Doing your research will not only save you time when booking a hotel, but you might find discounts on lift tickets or rentals through your search as well! Before you go, set the mood for your ski trip by watching videos of skiers having a blast, as they float through powder and weave through trees.

Have you learned any of these lessons the hard way? What else would you recommend to beginning skiers and snowboarders? 

For more information on planning a Pure Michigan ski or snowboard trip, visit michigan.org/snowday.

Three Ways to Save on Lessons and Lift Tickets in Pure Michigan

The official start of winter is still a few weeks away, but Michigan ski areas are already open for the season! If you or someone you know is a first-time skier or snowboarder, Mickey MacWilliams from the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association shares some tips for saving on lessons and lift tickets in Pure Michigan this winter. 

Photo courtesy of Crystal Mountain Resort

Photo courtesy of Crystal Mountain Resort

You may not know this but Michigan is steeped in skiing history. Michigan is home to the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame and some of the first and largest ski jumping competitions originated here back in the early 1900s.  While you may not want to hurl yourself off an Olympic regulation ski jump, getting out on Michigan’s 900+ slopes and trails is something everyone can enjoy.

Kids in fourth and fifth grades can ski for free all across Michigan this year with the Cold is Cool Ski & Ride Passport.  Twenty-seven ski areas have each contributed up to three lift tickets for this passport booklet, so students can ski all winter long, all over Michigan for free!  Applications are available online at goskimichigan.com.  There is a $15 printing fee for the passport booklet.

Photo courtesy of MSIA

Photo courtesy of MSIA

For those who don’t know how to ski or snowboard and want to learn, January is the month.  That’s when ski facilities all across Michigan offer an exciting and affordable learn-to-ski or snowboard program called Discover Michigan Skiing.  Beginners receive a lesson, equipment rental and a lift ticket or trail pass for just $20 for cross-country skiing or $35 for downhill skiing or snowboarding.  To get started, a Discover Michigan Skiing voucher is needed.  They are available at participating Michigan McDonald’s restaurants or online at goskimichigan.com.

Ski areas across the state offer packages, special events and discounts that can be a lot of fun while helping to reduce the costs of getting out onto the slopes and trails.

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Photo courtesy of Marquette Mountain

A page on the goskimichigan.com website called Events & Discounts is updated frequently and offers a wide assortment of options. Plus, the Ski Areas and Conditions page provides up-to-date snow conditions and direct links to ski areas all across the state.

So whether you are an experienced skier or rider or just want to give it a try, there is something for everyone on the ski slopes and trails of Pure Michigan.

Do you remember your first time skiing or snowboarding? Tell us about it!

Screen-Shot-2013-11-25-at-4.57.24-PM-150x150Mickey MacWilliams is the Executive Director of the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association, which represents the ski and snowboard industry in our state.  She is an avid downhill and cross-country skier and a very timid but enthusiastic snowboarder.  You can reach her at info@goskimichigan.com.

Soft Snow, Long Days and Great Discounts on Michigan’s Slopes

March means the start of warmer weather and longer days in Pure Michigan. It also means prime time for hitting the slopes! To learn about spring skiing in Michigan, we spoke with Mickey MacWillliams, executive director of the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association.

Q: We understand that there are some great deals for skiing and snowboarding in Michigan during March.  Can you tell us a little about this?

A: Shorter lift lines, low-season rates, carnivals and other fun activities plus some of the best snow conditions await skiers and snowboarders on Michigan ski slopes in March. Many ski areas remain open through the end of March, and some stay open well into April because of deep bases of natural and machine-made snow.  To entice folks to ski instead of fleeing to warmer climates, our ski areas have come up with some pretty creative ways to get us out on the slopes.

Q: Can you give us some examples?

A: Spring carnivals with ski races across man-made ponds, costume contests, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and other events abound. Just about every ski area in the state has some sort of spring carnival with special reduced lift tickets or lodging rates.  I encourage skiers to check MSIA’s website, goskimichigan.com and click on the “News, Events, Specials & Discounts” button, which is updated almost daily.  Here is a link to that page.   A Monster Energy Slush Cup race at Shanty Creek, Sausage Fest at Indianhead Mountain, Huck Finn Snowboard Series at Treetops Resort, Brew-Ski Festival at Boyne Highlands and a treasure hunt, moon bounce and petting zoo at Ski Brule are just a few of the events listed.  Easy links to Michigan ski area websites and snow conditions are also available from that Website.

Q: Besides wacky events and beer, what else does spring skiing offer?

A: Spring is my favorite time of the year to ski.  The days are longer, the sun is high in the sky, the snow is soft and ski areas offer discount rates to get people on the slopes one last time.  Efficient snowmaking has given Michigan ski areas the ability to provide consistently good snow conditions all winter long,. Most ski areas across the state are scheduled to be open for at least a few more weeks.  Those in the northern portion of the Lower Peninsula and those in the Upper Peninsula typically stay open at least into late March.  Although some Michigan ski areas stay open into April, I always advise skiers to check the website for snow conditions at the ski area they plan to visit before heading out. Links to ski conditions across Michigan are available on MSIA’s website, here.

Mickey MacWillliams is the executive director of the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association. To learn more about skiing in Michigan, visit goskimichigan.com or michigan.org.