Grade 5 students targeted to keep snow sports alive
By Oona Woods
The second season of a program designed by the Canadian Ski Council to get 10 year-olds interested in snow sports is kicking off this weekend.
In B.C., application forms for a special snow pass from the Canadian Western Ski Association (CWSA) will provide Grade 5 students, or any 10 year olds, with three days of free lift tickets at each major ski area in the province, provided they are accompanied by a paying adult. The adult can bring up to two pass holders each time.
The application forms are currently being delivered to elementary schools around the B.C. or are available on a national level from Sportscheck stores.
More than 100 different ski areas are taking part in the program, including Whistler/Blackcomb, Apex, Big White, Grouse Mountain, Mount Seymour, Sun Peaks and Hemlock Valley. Grade 5 students are eligible for three free lift tickets from each ski area. Each of the participating ski areas will also have a supply of application forms.
Last year was the first time this program was tested in Canada. Organizer Vicki Dalgleish from the CWSA says that well over 10,000 children used, or at least applied for the passbook.
"The response was incredible," says Dalgleish. "Parents were thrilled that there was an opportunity to get kids out skiing and help make it affordable. There was rather a late start last year and the mail strike didn’t help so we have a good jump on things this year."
The program was founded with the goal of introducing students to skiing and boarding, in the hope of generating a new market. Colorado ski areas started the program two years ago after studies found that people who learn to ski or ride at 10 years of age are most likely to make the sport a lifetime activity. Despite the growth of snowboarding, the total number of skiers/snowboarder visits across North America has remained constant over the last decade.