Ski and Ride program popular, a rare bargain
St. Mike's students line up to make most of Vermont experience
The winter season is in full swing and students are taking advantage of a seasonal program catered to skiers of all levels. The Ski and Ride program at Saint Michael’s College, organized by the College’s Adventure Sports Center, is in conjunction with Sugarbush Ski Resort, a popular site located in the Vermont town of Warren.
Within the Ski and Ride program, students can register for a Seasonal Pass at a highly discounted rate to ski at Sugarbush Mountain and Mad River Glen. According to Todd Wright, the director of the Adventure Sports Center, “It is a three-tier price program. A value pass costs $85 and is less than a one-day [ski] lift ticket. You receive access to Sugarbush Ski Resort all season long.” It is a rare opportunity with significant price reductions for students, Wright said.
However, students with a Seasonal Pass are limited access to only one mountain at Sugarbush Ski Resort. Furthermore, students who wish to receive unlimited access to both Sugarbush and Mad River Glen may purchase a pass for an additional $50-200.
Wright described Mad River Glen as “a very nice, smaller kind of ski area on the same road as Sugarbush Resort.” The program is designed to grasp the interest of new skiers and riders alike. Wright and his colleague Eben Widlund, the Adventure Sports Center assistant director, understand the obstacles that may hinder new skiers from engaging in the sport.
Said Wright, “With resort based skiing and snowboarding, there are a lot of potential barriers to access. It requires equipment, it happens in the winter, and very specific clothing is involved. This is extremely expensive for your first time.” The Saint Michael’s program was put in place to eliminate as many of these structural barriers as possible, he said.
Additionally, Wright mentioned the “learning curve” associated with this sport, addressed in the Ski and Ride program by the accommodation of lessons integrated into the program. Students receive morning and afternoon lessons on two Sundays, including transportation to the resort, access to the hill, four lessons, and rentals. It covers most of one’s needs for a day of skiing at only $50, an incomparable price to any deal.
After paying this fee, the Adventure Sports Center subsidizes it. At the end of the four lessons, students can receive a free, unlimited, premium pass to Sugarbush for the remainder of the season.
To mitigate the costs of attire, the Adventure Sports Center has partnered with the Alpine Shop in South Burlington, where a “Shop Night” is hosted for students to purchase clothing and gear at a discounted rate of 30 percent. Seasonal rentals are also provided at a reduced price.
“If you look at it structurally,” Wright said, “for between $200-250, you can learn to ski or snowboard, get equipment, have unlimited access for a whole semester to a resort, and have transportation.”
“Why wouldn’t you do it?” Widlund asked. He has seen a variety of students who were skeptical about skiing, and to their surprise, they experienced great enjoyment from the experience. “My best advice to students is to just do it,” Widlund said.