Three Reasons to Ski and Snowboard in Pure Michigan this Spring

Today, Mickey MacWilliams of Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA) gives us some great reasons to hit the slopes in Pure Michigan before the snow melts and spring is in full bloom. 

Snowboarders_basin_stIt may be hard for some to believe, but there are many of us who love winter and hate to see it go.  Spring is my favorite time of the year to ski. Here are three reasons to take advantage of prime ski and snowboard conditions this spring:

Longer Days, Softer Snow. The days are longer, the lift lines short, the sun is high in the sky, and the snow is soft. Springtime makes for some ideal skiing and snowboarding conditions!

Great Discounts. Ski areas offer discount rates to get people on the slopes one last time.  Just about every ski area in the state has some sort of spring carnival with special reduced lift tickets or lodging rates.

ShantyCreek2011Winter0414Spring Carnivals and Silly Events. Spring carnivals with ski races across man-made ponds, costume contests, beer tents, silly slalom races and other events abound.

Spring is the time to “ski” Michigan, not “flee” Michigan! Due to Michigan’s record snowfall, cool temperatures and efficient snowmaking capabilities, many ski areas plan to remain open through the end of March, and some will stay open through April 13 or later, so that families can take advantage of Michigan’s ski slopes and trails during spring break.

BOYNEMT_5613If you want to know where to find the snow, check out our website, goskimichigan.com and click on the “Events & Discounts” button, which is updated frequently.  We provide a running list of special events, packages and discounts at ski areas all across Michigan.  Easy links to Michigan ski area websites and snow conditions are also available from that site.  Although some Michigan ski areas stay open into April, I recommend that skiers and riders visit our website or call the ski area they plan to visit prior to arrival, since some may have limited hours of operation.

Winter recreation accounts for nearly a third of the state’s $17.7 billion-a year Michigan travel industry. I believe that this is a testament to the many, many skiers and snowboarders who cherish Michigan’s winter and hate to see it melt away. (And just like the Ice Queen in Disney’s movie Frozen, “The cold never bothered me anyway!”)

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 also the current president of TICOM, (Tourism Industry Coalition of Michigan) 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.

Winter Fitness in Pure Michigan

On our blog today, Ashleigh LoVette from the Michigan Fitness Foundation shares tips on fun ways to stay fit during winter months in Michigan.

After the beauty of autumn fades into the first frost, many Michiganders settle into the season of hibernation: Winter. Although, it may seem dormant, the snowy season welcomes a whole new realm of possibilities to stay active. The only real obstacle to staying fit in the cold is proper clothing and equipment. Additionally, the beautiful state of Michigan provides numerous physical activities to turn even the grayest of days into a winter wonderland.

Frozen Family Fun

Winter is the perfect season to spend quality time with the family. The holidays already bring everyone together and the winter snow can provide physical activities for every budget. Look no further than your own backyard or local park. Going outdoors and enjoying the season can be as easy as sledding or snow tubing. Add some friendly competition to see who can make it both up and down the hill the fastest. Is your nearest park too flat for sledding? Try making a snow fort, snowman, or snow angel. Summer beach toys have multiple uses as molds for snow castles and other creations. Extend your family fun even further with a trip to try one of Michigan’s best sledding spots. These ideas are sure to keep you and your family moving, despite the drop in temperature.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Staying fit in the winter doesn’t always have to be a family affair. Walking can also be modified for the colder weather. This low-impact activity is also great if there’s risk of frostbite (temperatures around -20 degrees F, including any wind chill) or if it’s too icy. Sidewalks and trails aren’t the only places to take a stroll in the snow. Check with your local mall to see if they have a mall walking program. Malls are generally open before stores open and can provide a great way to get in those extra steps. No malls nearby? Ask local schools, community colleges and community centers if they have open hours for walkers.

Head for the Hills

For those who prefer a bit more action, Michigan allows you to experience great skiing and snowboarding without leaving the state. The fitness benefits of these sports include improved balance, flexibility, agility, and leg and core strength. Skiing and snowboarding provide endless fun for individuals of all ages. For information about ski areas in Michigan, visit www.goskimichigan.com.

Don’t let the cold weather keep you inside, when there are so many options in your own backyard. As always, hydration is crucial when exercising. Remember to stay warm by dressing in layers. The layers help to keep heat in and enable you to remove clothing as the workout intensifies. Keep in mind skin is still exposed to the sun’s rays during cold weather and the reflective effect of snow means that wearing sunscreen is still just as important as in the warmer months. So bundle up, embrace the cold and get moving!