Trick of the Trade: Lowering the Cost of Snowboarding for Beginners

As winter wages on, many who will ski or snowboard this year probably already have their skis, jackets, tickets, and the rest of stuff you need in order to enjoy the sport. The most devoted riders have been on the hill since they were young, and have always had this equipment at the ready, waiting for the next season. There are also plenty of new skiers and riders every year, who may have reached their twenties or even older with never having been on snow before. When introduced to either skiing or snowboarding, it can be overwhelming and expensive for this group of potential shredders to try to get on the slopes.

In Colorado, we have many of these first-time skier college students who decide that because they live here they need to give it a try. The issue for many prospective riders is price. The cost of everything related to skiing is madness, and sometimes when trying to get old used gear at cost, it ends up being more harmful than helpful.

At the start of the season, a potential new skier stops by their local shop. Packed into the store is an overwhelming amount of gear, ranging from the industry’s newest jackets to old skis and boards that have been rented for years. In a shop like this, you can end up spending $50 or $1000, depending on what you need. The cheapest option, which all first-timers should do, is renting.

Christy Sports is a local ski shop in Boulder, Colorado. They offer many options on gear, for people at many different levels of skill. Evan is part of the team at Christy’s that handles rentals, and also a lifelong skier. “We offer a lot of different equipment, so that we can help vacationers who left their equipment at home, as well as locals who want to get into the sport,” Evan said. With a daily rental starting at $22, a price offered at most rental shops, snow sports become much more available.

First-timers make up around fifteen percent of all snowboarders each year. When these people start, there is a possibility of them not returning to the sport. The industry does a bad job, as far as cost, in assuring these first-timers come back a second time, and maybe a lifetime.

According to statistics from Snow Sports America, the total number of snow sports participants peaked in 2010, and has been fluctuating since then. As people get rid of their old equipment every year, stores like Play It Again Sports, which recycle old snow gear too, are a good option for people like college students who can’t afford new equipment.

For those who can afford it, new gear is always the way to go. With jackets that can run more than $150 and boards at over $400, it is clear why so many people haven’t been able to enjoy the sport. Ski prices are more the same, and when you consider a day pass for at least eighty dollars, or a season pass for $350, it really is an impossible sport to start at a later age.

Purchasing a pass, online or on the mountain, has become a long-winded process. After researching where one wants to visit the upcoming winter, a season pass could cost up to $1000. For students, most resorts offer college pass prices at a discounted rate. Advertised by the Epic Local Pass, which covers many mountains in Colorado, is the reminder that If you go four times, your pass has payed for itself. This is helpful when a new rider is deciding: will they go once and hate it, or can they do at least four times?

Doesn’t the industry want to attract new skiers and riders? Of course, but not at a discounted price. The dollar amounts that are affiliated with running a resort are absurd, and resort expansion alone must cost a pretty penny. But with fifty six million visits to resorts last year, the U.S. ski industry is not in decline.

Deeper into the winter, gear will get cheaper, and as spring arrives equipment prices will drop. If you haven’t learned how to ski or ride this season, a trip to the rental shop can get you fitted to hit the slopes. If you gave either skiing or snowboarding a try this year, affordable gear just requires some investigation. Once you’re on the slopes, remember to take it slow and respect the mountain, and especially to have some fun!

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