There is no better way to experience Utah winter than on a pair of skis. But, let’s be real, it can be so expensive—a few hundred dollars for ski clothes, another few hundred for skis, and—oh yeah—another few hundred for a ski pass. As a college student with $30 allotted to groceries each week, the thought of dropping that much money on a new hobby made me feel insane. So, I talked to Alison Palmintere from Ski Utah to get a few tips and tricks to ski on a budget without sacrificing comfort or safety.
Thrifting is a fantastic way to keep your costs down when starting to ski. Utah has an abundance of secondhand and discount stores where you can get clothing and gear on a budget. Some secondhand and outlet ski shops:
Level Nine Sports, multiple locations, levelninesports.com
Ski Trucks, 1260 W. North Temple, SLC (not an actual truck anymore), skitrucks.com
Play It Again Sports, 6910 Highland Dr. #3, SLC, playitagainsports.com
Ski ‘N See, multiple locations, skinsee.com
Recreation Outlet, multiple locations, recreationoutlet.com
What to Wear
When it comes to skiing, if you layer your clothing correctly, you can stay dry and warm even in sub-freezing temperatures. You want to make sure that you have a good base layer. Stay away from cotton, as it will soak up moisture like a sponge. You want something that is going to allow mobility, dry quickly and keep you warm. Opt for a synthetic-wool base layer to wick away moisture. You can also add a fleece or sweater over your base layer before putting on your coat. When picking out your coat, it should be completely waterproof to keep your other layers dry. A longer coat that covers your waistline will keep snow from falling down your pants all day. Speaking of pants, usually a synthetic pair of leggings under waterproof snow pants will keep you warm all day.
If you aren’t ready to invest in your own ski gear yet—rent! Most ski resorts have rentals available for skis, boots, helmets and poles. Some ski resorts even have coats, pants and gloves to choose from. After picking your ski resort, check out their website to see what rentals they have available. Where to rent:
Utah Ski and Golf, multiple locations, utahskigolf.com
Wasatch Ski and Snowboard Rental, 6755 S. Wasatch Blvd., SLC, wasatchskiandsnowboardrental.com
U of U Rentals, campusrec.utah.edu
BYU Outdoors Unlimited Rentals, outdoors.byu.edu
Out N Back, 418 N. State St., Orem, outnback.com
Breeze Ski Rentals, 1284 Lowell Ave., Park City, skirentals.com
Alpine Sports, 1165 Patterson St., Ogden, alpinesportsutah.com
Consider Smaller Ski Resorts
If you are just wanting to ski for a day to see how you like the sport, consider purchasing a day pass at a smaller ski resort. The slopes are perfect for learning and the cost will be significantly cheaper. Many of these resorts offer great deals if you purchase ahead of time online:
Try Multi-Resort Passes
“If you’re committed to getting into skiing for a season, I recommend taking advantage of the multi-resort passes,” says Palmintere. Multi-resort passes let you explore different mountains and resorts without buying an individual day pass at each one. Ski Utah can hook you up with one of these passes on their website, but beware that some have waitlists:
EPIC: Access to Park City Mountain and seven days at Snowbasin
IKON: Unlimited access to Solitude Mountain Resort, limited access to Brighton, Deer Valley, Alta and Snowbird
INDY: Access to Beaver Mountain, Powder Mountain and Eagle Point
POWER: Unlimited access to Brian Head and Nordic Valley
SKI CITY SUPER PASS: Access to Alta, Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude
SKI UTAH GOLD & SILVER PASSES: Unlimited access to 15 Utah ski resorts
YETI: Good for one lift ticket at every Utah ski and snowboard resort
Get Yourself a Teacher
Many resorts offer killer ski school deals. (Some even include rentals.) If the whole family is getting into skiing this year, there’s Ski Utah’s 5th and 6th Grade Passport. For $45, fifth graders can get three days at each resort and sixth graders can get one day at each resort. They also offer deals for an adult companion pass. And some resorts, such as Snowbasin, offer deals that give you three lift tickets, three lessons, and season-long equipment and a season pass for the remainder of the season upon completion of their ski-school program. You can also search deals on the Ski Utah website.
Once you have your outfit, gear, ski pass and a plan to learn, you are all set. When asked for her final advice, Palmintere says to “come prepared with a snack and a big meal in your belly” and to “try to go into skiing with an open mind. Don’t let more experienced skiers and snowboarders intimidate you. Everybody learns at their own pace. And the goal is just to get out there and work, try something new and have fun.” See you on the slopes!