OUTDOOR EXPLORERS: Getting A Chance To Go Downhill

Joe Stevens, Outdoor Explorer, Executive Director – West Virginia Ski Areas Association

When the temperature starts dropping in the mountains of West Virginia, the excitement begins for those involved in the West Virginia Winter Sports industry.  When the temperatures drop below zero, the first sounds of snowguns can be heard as the operation folks start covering the hundreds of slopes and trails at Canaan Valley, Snowshoe Mountain,  Winterplace and Oglebay resorts. A traditional season for skiing, snowboarding and snowtubing runs from Thanksgiving to the first of April.

The ski areas in West Virginia attract more than 800,000 visits each season, and this year, the members of the West Virginia Ski Areas Association are hoping for that number to grow.  The association is conducting a new program this season that will allow any child in the 4th and 5th grade to ski or snowboard for FREE.  All of West Virginia’s ski areas are accepting the association’s Ski Free 4th and 5th Grade Passport Program.

The Passport Program is designed to introduce 4th and 5th graders to the sports of skiing and snowboarding at West Virginia Ski Resorts.  This is a great age for children to learn a new sport with ease and excel rapidly. Through the Passport Program and on-mountain experiences, the youngsters will enjoy getting outdoors on the slopes of the Mountain State.

The Passport may be used to obtain one child’s fist time ski/snowboard package (beginner lift, lesson and rental package) at a participating resort of choice and up to three additional junior lift tickets at participating resorts during the 2019-2020 season.  Resort benefits are determined by each ski resort.

The Passport coupon may be presented by the 4th or 5th grader to obtain a complimentary one-day lift ticket when accompanied by a paying adult.

The cost of the Passport is $25 and can be obtained by visiting the West Virginia Ski Areas Association’s website.

Two aspects that separate West Virginia’s ski resorts from others in the region are snowmaking and ski/snowboard instructors.

The snowmakers at all of the state’s ski resorts can produce man-made snow whenever temperatures permit, creating excellent snow coverage for visiting skiers and snowboarders.  When snowmaking conditions are at their best (in the low teens), over 20,000 tons of snow is being produced in West Virginia per hour, enough snow to cover 20 football fields with a foot of snow each hour.

Every resort in West Virginia is staffed with trained ski and snowboard instructors that will make newcomers’ first day on the slopes a memorable one. They are also willing to help experienced skiers and snowboarders improve their technique.  All  instructors are ready to help skiers and snowboarders of all ages and are trained to be patient and understand each rider’s ability without pushing them beyond their limits.  West Virginia’s terrain is perfect for beginner and intermediate-level riders and is the perfect place to learn to ski and snowboard.

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This post was last updated on March 18, 2022