Finally, the 2016-17 ski season is underway with lifts and lodges operating across snow country.
Many resorts entice older skiers and boarders with discounted lift tickets, rentals and lessons. But the most generous -- and effective -- enticement is free skiing. Each resort establishes its own age requirement to qualify for the freebie, and some charge a nominal amount to process the paperwork for a virtually free season pass. At Powder Mountain in Utah, for example, that amount is $20, for 75-year-olds.
SeniorsSkiing.com, the free online magazine for 50+ snow sports enthusiasts, publishes the annual list of resorts offering free lift tickets. It is based on data provided by the National Ski Areas Association.
This season's free list has 108 resorts and is organized by state. It includes resort name, web address linked to the resort's site, and the age threshold necessary for the free perk. The list has grown from last year's 97 areas.
An estimated 1.25 million people over 55 ski and board in the US and it stands to reason that fewer remain on the snow as they age. That may explain why some areas make free skiing a privilege for octogenarians and nonagenarians only. The list shows 24 places with free skiing for those in their eighties and two in their nineties. Obviously, they're not losing any revenue.
The list represents a mix of smaller local and larger destination mountains. Changing weather and economic conditions influence ski area operations, so it's always best to visit their websites to confirm current free skiing and discount policies before heading to the hills.