6 ways to save on skiing and snowboarding

Skiing and snowboarding are a fabulous way to enjoy winter’but they’re not a cheap hobby. Try these 6 tips to enjoy your favourite sports for less

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couple skiing

Stick to your budget

Don’t let a trimmed-down budget prevent you from hitting the great outdoors this winter. Downhill skiing and snowboarding are two totally Canadian ways to upgrade your workout: Bye-bye drab gym walls, hello clean, frosty air and snow-covered hills!

You can expect to burn at least 365 calories per one-hour ski workout (based on a body weight of 160 pounds), about the same if you’re snowboarding.

Although cross-country skiing torches more calories and offers greater cardio benefits, says Dr. Stuart Phillips, a Professor of Kinesiology at Hamilton, Ont.’s McMaster University, “there are a lot of static and dynamic muscles activated in downhill skiing, which lead to it being a decent workout.”

The downside: Skiing and snowboarding can get pricey, particularly for families. But there are ways to pare back on costs without cutting back on the quality of your experience. Read on for insider tips that can save you a ton while you’re out having snowy fun!

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skis in snow

1. Swap gear

Go online to buy, sell or trade gently used outdoor gear. Old standbys like Craigslist or Kijiji can be useful, but we prefer Mountain Equipment Coop’s online Gear Swap. It’s a fast and efficient way to search for the equipment you want from simpatico outdoorsy types-for instance, a pair of well-tended women’s Atomic Sweet Mama mountain skis-not someone’s grandpa’s old scrapers that they found in the attic!

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family on chair lift

2. Buy the right pass

It may be too late to snag early-bird deals on season passes, but you can still save by heeding these general rules of thumb:

• A season pass is cheaper than multi-day passes;
• But multi-day passes are cheaper than day passes;
• Full-day access is only a good deal if you plan to be active all day long.

Meeting friends for a long, leisurely lunch? Just buy a half-day pass, and book your table to complement your lift-ticket window.

TIP: In the future, purchase a season pass as soon as the leaves fall. Early-bird deals slash an easy 10 percent-even 20 percent!-off regular-season pass prices.

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skiers on hill

3. Hit the slopes on a Thursday

You’ll save money if you head out on a weekday, not “prime time.”

Par exemple, take Mont Blanc (in Saint-Faustin-Lac-Carré, just over an hour’s drive from Montreal): A full-day adult lift ticket is $34 on weekdays and $40 on weekends and holidays.

Another perk: Fewer crowds means less time waiting around, more time barrelling down those hills.

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4. Try a public facility

Private hills may be top-of-mind destinations when it comes to skiing and snowboarding, but public runs have a lot to offer. Not only are they much, much cheaper, many city-run facilities are fully equipped with certified instructors, gear rental and tuning, snack bars, lifts, night hours, snow-making machines, and so on.

An adult season pass for the City of Toronto’s Ski & Snowboard Centres (which gains you access to two Toronto Centres and one in nearby Kitchener, Ont.), for instance, costs $318. Meanwhile, at cottage-country Blue Mountain, it’s $869. True, Blue Mountain boats more amenities, but if you just want to ski or snowboard-and do it as often as possible, even right after work!-city slopes are a great option.

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woman on ski hill

5. Pack your own snacks

Tending to your rumbling tummy can really add up if you’re spending the day at a resort. Even if you treat yourself to a hot lunch, cut back on extraneous costs by packing your own snacks. Protein bars, nuts, trail mix, cheese, multigrain crackers and fresh fruit are healthy choices that won’t take up a lot of space in your bag. And don’t forget to BYOWB, so you can avoid blowing money on H2O.

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family on ski hill

6. Make it a vacation

While it may sound counterintuitive to travel, there are some great deals out there right now.

Take Kelowna, B.C.’s Big White Resort. A full one-day/night adult pass with lift ticket is $71. But the resort also offers a “4 for 3” special: Book a three-day hotel or condo package, and you get one extra day free-from as little as $112 a night (per person) for a one-bedroom condo. For four days of skiing that’s $71 per day (no deal), versus $84/day (with the deal-and accommodation).

So consider turning a series of local day trips into one super-fun, multi-day getaway. The few extra dollars you’ll pay will be recouped between your gas and food savings (stash healthy snacks in your room)-not to mention your increased comfort.

Additionally, skiing or snowboarding day in and out for several days can pay off with awesome boot-camp-like improvements to your form!

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