The cost of hitting the slopes in 2015

With the opening of ski season around the corner, many skiers are ready to hit the slopes, outfitted with all of the attire and gear needed for the sport.

As the trend of skiing continues to grow, the walk up ski lift tickets also continues to rise in price each year. Many families who used to ski a few times a month have been forced to cut back and find ways to save money on the sport.

“I take my husband and son up to Seven Springs usually twice a month during the season,” said Lindsay Podrosky of Monongahela. “We rented all of our equipment and paid the lift pass price, thinking there wasn’t any way to get around the $130 a person price for the day.”

$130 per person per day. That price includes the lift pass for the day, the rental skis and bindings, and the ski boots. “At the end of the day we spent probably around $450 once we bought lunches,” Podrosky said.

What this price doesn’t include are the jackets, ski pants, gloves, and hats for each person as well. “It’s fun to go and look in the ski shop at all of the gear, but there’s no way I’d be able to afford a top-of-the-line ski jacket for my six-year old. I’m not paying $100 for a ski jacket every season when I can go to Kmart and buy one for $20,” said Podrosky.”

The biggest expense that skiers have to worry about though are the lift passes. For the 2015/2016 season, large ski resorts in North America, such as Breckenridge and Whistler, are charging over $100 for an all day, walk up ski lift pass.

While local mountain ski resort, Seven Springs, is much smaller than popular ski resorts like Breckenridge and Whistler, they are still charging $81 for an all day lift pass.

“I’ve gotten tired of paying so much for lift passes, so for the past two years I’ve bought season passes for my husband and my son for Christmas,” said Podrosky. “It’s around $550 for my husband and $400 for my son. It’s a lot to put down all at once, but we sure do save a lot of money by the end of the season!”

This is the way a lot of families are going about skiing now. The season passes offer too much of a savings to be ignored. “I’ve also learned to buy mid week passes because the weekends up at Seven Springs are insane! It’s like a $25 difference per person if you go during the week versus if you go on the weekend,” said Podrosky.

To someone who doesn’t ski, these prices may deter you from ever trying the sport. However, some would argue that even with the expensive prices, a day of hitting the slopes is worth it. “If it snows next month I’ll be up at Seven Springs skiing with my boys and then sipping some hot chocolate afterwards!” Podrosky said. “There isn’t much that all of us like to do together, so as long as we all love skiing, we’ll find a way to afford it.”

Ken Brian, a long time skier in the Pittsburgh area, has witnessed the sport change over the past 30 years. What started out as pass time for him and his high school friends turned into a lifetime activity that him and his wife, Pat, love to do every
weekend in the winter.

“When I started skiing I knew immediately that this was going to be something I stuck with,” said Brian. “My parents bought me a pair of the best skis at the time which cost somewhere around $600. Today they would probably be in the thousands to buy new.”

“Skiing has always been an expensive sport and as the times change the prices go up, that’s just how it works,” Brian said. “One of the things that I started doing about 15 years ago was ski patrol which allowed me to ski for free on the weekends,” said Brian. To qualify for ski patrol one must be an advanced skier with the ability to perform first aid and rescue on the slopes. “It’s not for everyone, but it was something that allowed me to ski whenever I felt like it.”

As well as being an advanced skier in the Pittsburgh area, Brian and his wife also travel to different mountain ranges to ski. “We’ve been all over: Colorado, Switzerland, Quebec, but our favorite place is Utah. The snow there is just so much
better than any other place in the world it seems like.” Brian said. To be an advanced skier the sport doesn’t come cheap. After all, to be the best skier, you have to have the best gear and equipment.

“In order to really get into skiing you have to be able to devote a lot of time and money to the sport,” said Brian. “My wife and I have our own gear, and we make it a point to update our gear every few years. Some people like collecting sports memorabilia and such, but we would rather spend our money on something we can do together.”

“I would say that this is probably one of the most expensive sports out there, especially for families. If you’re looking to get serious then you have to be prepared to lay down at least a couple hundred dollars each season, possibly even a couple
thousand,” said Brian.

“Skiing has always been an expensive sport and as the times change the prices go up, that’s just how it works,” Brian said. “One of the things that I started doing about 15 years ago was ski patrol which allowed me to ski for free on the weekends,” said Brian. To qualify for ski patrol one must be an advanced skier with the ability to perform first aid and rescue on the slopes. “It’s not for everyone, but it was something that allowed me to ski whenever I felt like it.”

As well as being an advanced skier in the Pittsburgh area, Brian and his wife also travel to different mountain ranges to ski. “We’ve been all over: Colorado, Switzerland, Quebec, but our favorite place is Utah. The snow there is just so much
better than any other place in the world it seems like.” Brian said.

To be an advanced skier the sport doesn’t come cheap. After all, to be the best skier, you have to have the best gear and equipment. “In order to really get into skiing you have to be able to devote a lot of time and money to the sport,” said Brian. “My wife and I have our own gear, and we make it a point to update our gear every few years. Some people like collecting sports memorabilia and such, but we would rather spend our money on something we can do together.”

“I would say that this is probably one of the most expensive sports out there, especially for families. If you’re looking to get serious then you have to be prepared to lay down at least a couple hundred dollars each season, possibly even a couple
thousand,” said Brian.

“My wife and I are lucky to have the opportunity to take part in this sport and go to Utah to ski each year,” Brian said. “The ski resorts have to make a killing off of their customers every season. Once you’re in a ski resort like Park City be prepared to pay the price.”

“Hotel rooms usually aren’t too expensive, but the walk up lift passes and food options are what can burn a hole in your wallet,” said Brian. This is the case with many ski resorts around the world. While the hotel rooms may seem like a great deal, the walk up lift pass price can top $100 a person per day.

After factoring in the price of food and ski rentals, if needed, your day of skiing can easily turn into a $500 bill.

“Every year we know what we’re getting into and how much we’re going to spend on the sport. It really is something that we have to budget our money for throughout the year though,” said Brian.

Even with the expensive prices of skiing, ski resorts around the world do not suffer once the snow starts falling. Whistler ski resort in British Columbia, Canada has already received over 50 inches of snow this year with their projected opening date of November 26. Due to the snowfall and demand of customers, Whistler opened a full week early, on November 19.

“One day it’s calm and sunny out with only a few tourists in the village and then the next day it’s snowing and all of these experienced skiers are out buying all of this years equipment,” said Van Wijlk. “There is a certain clientele that we see in Whistler every year,” Van Wijlk said. “Most of the people that come here to ski don’t think twice about buying a new jacket for $500 or new skis for a couple thousand. That’s just how it is here; the best equipment and gear for the best skiers.”

The lift price for Whistler this year topped $100 US dollars, not including the rental for the equipment. “Most of the people that come here specifically for skiing have their own equipment so they are just paying the lift prices. If you’re a family coming here to ski, it’s going to be pretty pricy,” Van Wijlk said.

Compared to Seven Springs $550 season pass, Whistler’s season pass starts at $1200 and goes up from there if you want to add on extra amenities such as the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola ride that will take you from the top of Whistler Mountain to the top of Blackcomb Mountain, or vice versa.

“I know a lot of people that buy the season pass lift tickets. It’s great if you live around the area,” said Van Wijlk. “However, most of the clientele in Whistler are visitors and tourists so I’m sure that the resort makes most of the money off of one day or two day lift passes.”

Because of so many tourists coming into the Whistler area, the village is filled with hotels, restaurants, and shopping options. “Most of the shops are geared towards the skiers and snowboarders,” Van Wijlk said. “We have a North Face store, a Can Ski, Columbia, Roxy, and many others that sell the ski gear. All of the gear is pretty much top of the line so you’ll be paying the price for the quality.”

“One thing that is pretty affordable here is the hotels’. I think the average room rate per night is like $160 in the winter, so it’s actually not too expensive to come and stay here,” said Van Wijlk.

“The restaurants aren’t too bad either. I mean, of course we have the pricy places like The Keg and other steakhouses, but for a family coming to the village we have inexpensive dining options like Earls and The Spaghetti Factory,” Van Wijlk said.

“The village is pretty much always busy, especially during ski season. Looking at the business of skiing though, I don’t think it’s suffering at all even with the expensive prices,” Van Wijlk said. It’s true that even with the prices, the ski resorts are not suffering. If anything it seems like the sport of skiing is thriving in the North American economy.

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