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First-time skiers and snowboarders hit the slopes for less with Michigan program

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Yearning for the thrill of a downhill run? This January, find affordable options for skiing and snowboarding lessons across the state during Discover Michigan Skiing Month.

For just $60 per beginner session—which includes rental equipment, a lift ticket or trail pass, and a lesson—those 7 and older can receive quality instruction at ski areas and resorts across the state through the Discover Michigan Skiing program.

“It’s the best way to learn to ski,” says Michele “Mickey” MacWilliams, executive director of the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA). “It’s safer than trying to learn on your own, and with the quality of instruction available and access to lessons at 21 Michigan ski areas, it’s a great opportunity to become familiar with all that the state has to offer.”

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The rate for the Discover Michigan Skiing program is heavily discounted. This makes the program an affordable entry point not just for children learning to ski or snowboard, but also for adults who want to learn a new sport.

“If you’ve never skied or snowboarded, there is equipment involved—from skis or snowboards to boots, bindings and poles—plus the lift ticket to get up the hill. When you combine this with the cost of instruction, the price can add up very quickly,” says Steve Kershner, MSIA Chairman and director of snow sports for Shanty Creek Resort in Bellaire, Mich., which participates in the Discover Michigan Skiing program. “Discover Michigan Skiing combines all of these aspects into one fee so it’s convenient and very affordable.”

Sponsored by Michigan’s McDonald’s restaurants, the program enables participants to sign up for one lesson per session type: skiing, cross-country skiing or snowboarding. Depending on the facility, participants may either call for reservations or make a reservation online. Then, they can print out a voucher to take with them to their appointment.

Since Discover Michigan Skiing launched more than 30 years ago, Kershner, who has worked in the Michigan ski business for 51 years, has seen Michigan’s program for first-time skiing and snowboarding instruction inspire other states to create their own.

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“I’m very proud that this started in Michigan. Now, January is ‘Learn to Ski Month’ nationally for the National Ski Areas Association, and this program is a model for other states,” Kershner says.

And in a state where a ski area is no more than a two-hour drive from any city or town, Discover Michigan Skiing has broadened access to skiing and snowboarding for people of all ages across the state. More than 200,000 people have been introduced to these winter sports through the program.

“We believe it’s important for people to get out and exercise during the winter,” says MacWilliams, who is currently helping to teach her 4-year-old grandchild how to ski. “What better place to explore our state than on a pair of skis or a snowboard?”

Find out more about the Discover Michigan Skiing program and make a reservation. Pro tip: Arrive one hour before your appointment to be fitted for equipment.

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