Free Skiing and Snowboarding!

Colorado resorts offer free skiing for 5th and 6th graders. No strings attached. And if the deal isn’t free, it offers skiing for less than a price of a child’s lift ticket at Aspen in the 1960s.


Skiing and riding free at Aspen. Photo by Jeremy Swanson

Skiing and riding free at Aspen.
Photo by Jeremy Swanson

Everyone complains about the cost of skiing, and it is, undeniably, an expensive sport. Our family is currently going into debt so our three kids can ski race. I’m afraid to add it all up, but I can tell you it’s well into the thousands of dollars. That said, there are a few programs out there that make it free to ski. I repeat: free. That is not a typo.

Colorado, like other ski-friendly states like New Hampshire, Vermont, and Michigan, has a passport program for elementary-school-aged kids. But you can also find programs that offer enticing deals for older skiers. Copper for one is offering an unbelievable free skiing deal for never-ever adults. Read more about Copper’s Ski and Ride University.

5th 6th grade passport program

“We’re skiing for free!! Woot.”

So, this year I signed my 5th grader up for the Colorado Ski Country USA 5th and 6th Grade Passport program. It gets him three free tickets to 20 participating resorts, which means three free tickets to basically every resort in Colorado that’s not owned by Vail Resorts. Next year, when he gets the 6th Grade Passport, he’ll need to pay $99. But he’ll get 4 days at each resort. If you do the math, it’s still a screaming deal. How’s $1.25 a day for a lift ticket? That’s the price of a single ride at Stowe, Vermont, in 1960.

I also signed my 5th grader up for Lindsey Vonn’s School of Shred pass program for 5th and 6th graders. It gets him four free tickets to each of Vail’s Colorado resorts (Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone, plus four free days at Arapahoe Basin). I repeat: free. Not a typo. And the tickets are unrestricted. Kids can use them day of the season. Unlike the CSCUSA 6th Grade Passport, Vail’s School of Shred program is free for 6th graders.

Get them hooked when they're young, and you can ski with your kids in the aspens at Aspen. Photo by Scott Markewitz

Get them hooked when they’re young, and you can ski with your kids in the aspens at Aspen. Photo by Scott Markewitz

Technically neither of these programs was devised with my kids in mind. My kids have been skiing since they were in diapers and they are now bashing gates in the racecourse. These passport programs are engineered to introduce more school-aged kids to the sports of skiing and snowboarding. But CSCUSA and Vail make it available to all kids, regardless of skill level.

What first timers get out of it (aside from free skiing and riding) is a host of deals on lessons. CSCUSA’s First Class program gets passport holders a free beginner lesson and rentals. Vail School of Shred pass holders get a free beginner lesson and rental equipment (a one-day lesson for a 5th grader would run $220 with rental gear). For School of Shred, the free lessons are available during Learn to Ski and Snowboard month (January 5 to 31, 2015). Time it right and it’s a super deal.

And as they say on those electric blender TV commercials, that’s not all!! My son’s CSCUSA pass also came with a free burrito from Chipotle. And if it’s free, it’s for me.


Colorado Ski Country USA

Go to Colorado Ski Country USA’s website ( for more info on the 5th and 6th Grade Passport program. Click here to fill out an application. The deadline is January 31, so if you think you might only use it at spring break, don’t wait.

Vail Resorts

To participate in Lindsey Vonn’s School of Shred, you need to apply by November 24. Which is coming right up. So get on it. Bring your kid (and proof of his 5th or 6th grade-ness, like a report card or a school ID) to Vail’s retail outlets on the Front Range or to a pass office at any Vail resort.


High Fives and Head Butts all around for free skiing for kids at Vail. Photo by Dan Davis

Vail’s Front Range pass sales locations include Colorado Ski and Golf (Aurora, Arvada, Colorado Springs and Littleton), Colorado Ski and Sports in Park Meadows, Boulder Ski Deals, Breeze Ski Rentals in Lakewood, and Outpost Sunsport in Fort Collins.

© 2014 All Rights Reserved

Speak Your Mind