Teaching snowboarding at a Twin Cities ski area–part 1

If you love snowboarding or skiing, one of the best things you can do is become an instructor. You’ll become a better rider or skier, plus you’ll probably learn a few things about yourself. Ski and snowboard areas in the Twin Cities are actively looking for candidates. Here’s some information on teaching at three local ski areas.

The program at Buck Hill starts on Monday, November 5, and is followed by five Tuesdays evening sessions after that. Each night’s session runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The first two sessions, both indoors, include an overview, classroom training, and interview. The third session is an on-the-snow skills interview. The third and fourth meetings involve training on the snow. Everything wraps up on Tuesday, December 11, with prospective instructors being evaluated on the snow.

Hyland Hills offers the Hyland Snowsports Academy, which is a four-day training workshops for prospective instructors. The academy runs from Friday, November 9, through Monday, November 12. The Friday and Monday sessions are held in the evening (6 p.m. through 8 p.m., and 6 p.m. through 9:15 p.m., respectively). Weekend sessions, which include classroom and on-the-hill work, will be held from 8:30 a.m. until 4:10 p.m.

Walk-ins are accepted on a space-available basis, but it’s best that you register online beforehand. Go to www.threeriverspark.org, click on “employment,” and go from there to fill out an application. Fred Seymour, senior director of alpine services, says that the parks district, which runs Hyland Hills, typically hires 40-60 new instructors a season, to bring their staff up to 325.

Trollhaugen has apprentice clinics that are 14 hours long. At the clinics, would-be instructors are shown how to teach and then practice teaching before experienced instructors. The clinics end with prospective teachers giving a lesson. Contact snowsports director Steve Kinzer at 715-755-2955 x226 for more.

Welch Village job fair and ski swap

t’s a gloomy, rainy day in the Twin Cities, but for snow lovers, that is one sign that winter is on its way. Another sign is that Welch Village, a ski area on the southeast side of the metro, is having a job fair today and ski/board swap this weekend. According to an announcement on the ski area’s Facebook page, “We have full-time and part-time job openings in Rental, Ticketing, Food Service, Lift-Operations, Snow-making and more.” Show up at the second floor of the main chalet between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. today, or view the “employment” page of the Welch Village website.

This weekend also marks the ski area’s equipment swap, which will be on Friday from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. In addition to being able to skis and snowboards second-hand, you can choose from products offered by Wayne’s Ski and Cycle, Hoigaard’s, and Hi-Tempo. Wayne’s is based in Mason City, and its presence at the swap is a testimony to the fact that Welch attracts customers from Iowa. Hoigaard’s and Hi-Tempo are two of the Twin Cities’ specialized sports shops that can give you some more specific and informed advice than you may get at some of the big box retailers. At the swap, you can also buy a season pass; if you’re interested, do it now, as prices will go up after the weekend.

If you do head down to Welch, you might wish to check out the Black Diamond bar, which opens for the first time on Friday, at 7 p.m., with a showing of a Warren Miller film. Fans of snow films may say that Miller’s time has come and gone. But even if the company has been passed up by other other productions–a proposition up for debate–it still offer some vicarious enjoyment.

Taking in the Minnesota Ski & Snowboard Expo

If you’re going to the Minnesota Ski & Snowboard Expo, held at the Mall of America this weekend, take a hint: Park in the east parking ramp to be closer to the action. Granted, walking from the west parking ramp may give you some exercise, but when the mall is crowded, as it was tonight, you may also get an exercise in frustration on your way to the exhibits.

Getting ready for the aerial demonstration

The show’s physical layout is a bit disjointed, with exhibitors sprawled out along the eastern edge of the mall. The rotunda space is taken up largely by ski areas, though you’ll also find Liftopia (discounted lift tickets), the Midwest Ski/Sport Council (ski clubs), and On the Snow (ski area news). Curiously, not all the ski areas represented in the show are in the rotunda; some sought the “cheap seats” in one of two adjacent corridors. These include destination resorts such as Steamboat (Colorado) and Schweitzer (Idaho), as well as one local area, Wild Mountain.

The rotunda space is great if you wish to compare ski area to ski area, especially those within the Twin Cities. But every two hours (starting at 12 p.m. each day), the space is given over to freestyle aerial demonstrations involving a trampoline. The demonstrations are entertaining and draw a crowd, but the accompanying sound system makes it hard to carry on a conversation. If the challenge to hear becomes overwhelming, seek out a vendor in one of the adjacent corridors.

While vendors in the corridor offer, on occasion, a quieter conversation, it can be hard to spot them through the throngs of shoppers and various shops on either side of the corridor. The problems mentioned above are balanced by the fact that there’s no entrance fee, and no parking fee, either.

In addition to the vendors mentioned above, you’ll find sporting goods stores that specialize in ski and snowboard equipment (Hi Tempo and Hoigaard’s), ski and snowboard companies (Rossignol and Volkl), clothing companies (Phunkshun Wear, Zoozata, and WSI), and ski and snowboard programs (Skijammers and G Team). This is not a full list; if you want to see that, look at the exhibitor list of the show website.

Minnesota Ski & Snowboard Expo offers activities, discounted lift tickets

Want to get another look at the upcoming season for skiing and snowboarding?The Minnesota Minnesota Ski & Snowboard Expo comes to the Mall of America on Friday, October 19th through Sunday, October 21st, 2012.

At the show, you will be able to talk with representatives of several Twin Cities-based ski areas: Afton Alps, Buck Hill, Hyland Hills, Welch Village, and Wild Mountain. In addition, three ski areas from Greater Minnesota will be on hand: Giant’s Ridge, Lutsen Mountains, and Mt. Kato. There will also be a small selection of resorts from the western U.S., including Big Sky, Jackson Hole, and Steamboat.

Hard gear companies represented will include Rossignol and Volkl. Ramp, a relatively unknown company that makes its own skis and boards, will be there, too.

As a bonus, you can save some dough on lift tickets and season passes. The particulars vary, so read on for more.

Wild Mountain will be selling 5-packs of evening lift tickets for $100. You’ll benefit in two ways. The most obvious is that the tickets are cheaper ($20 each, versus the usual rate of $31). A less obvious benefit is that for these tickets, the “night” rate starts at 2 p.m., earlier than usual.

Afton Alps will also be selling packs of 5 lift tickets for $140, or an average of $28 per person. According to a representative of Afton, these tickets have no restrictions, are transferable, and are good for up to three years. You can’t buy them online or at the ticket window, so get them at the show. They represent a modest savings from the weekday rate of $33, but a 35 percent discount from the weekend and holiday rate of $43.

Welch Village will have presentations on the PMTS Direct Parallel method of ski instruction. Welch has recently obtained a license to use this method, which was developed by Harald Harb.

If you’ve thought of buying a season pass at Welch, you’re in luck. The “Last Chance Season Pass specials” will save you some money. The individual season pass will be on sale for $279, or $20 off the current price. Family and quad passes will be $50 off the current price, or $949 and $849, respectively.

Hyland Hills will also sell 5-packs of tickets. They go for $120.00, which is a $35.00 savings. A spokesman for the ski area says that it’s “basically 5 tickets for the price of 4.”

Trollhaugen will be offering a package of discounted lift tickets, though details were not yuet available.

Buck Hill will have a booth at the show, but will not be offering any discounts.

A mall-based ski show doesn’t have the same vibe as an at-the-hill swap or fall festival, but it’s still a good way to gather some information, talk with like-minded people, and anticipate the excitement of snowboarding and skiing.

Welch Village offers limited-time discounted lift tickets, online

There’s more than one way for snowboarders and skiers to buy a lift ticket, as Welch Village is proving with a new, limited sale set for this weekend.

According to the resort’s Facebook page, you’ll be able to buy lift tickets for $30 through its online store. The usual date for an “all-day flex” ticket is $49. The sale will start on Thursday, October 18, and run through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, October 21.

This is yet another example of the aggressive pricing strategy that Welch has engaged in recently. During the 2009-2010 season, it sold a season pass, dubbed the “Olympic Pass” in honor of the Vancouver games, for $99. The current price, if you catch it during the spring, is $149, still a good deal.

The announcement is a good reminder that it may be worth your trouble to sign up for the Facebook fan pages of your favorite ski area. Other ski areas within an easy drive of the Twin Cities include Afton AlpsBuck HillHyland HillsTrollhaugen, and Wild Mountain.

Trollhaugen brings zip lines to Twin Cities snow scene

Want to experience a ski area in a whole new way? Fly down it, suspended by a cable and a harness.

Joining the likes of Midwestern counterparts Boyne Mountain (Boyne Falls, Mich.) and Spirit Mountain, (Duluth, Minn.), Trollhaugen, Wis., unveiled a zipline feature on October 6. The ski and snowboard resort is roughly 50 miles from downtown St. Paul, outside the town of Dresser.

The “dual zip line” is 1,400 feet long. The ride is broken into one segment of 1,000 feet and then a shorter one of 400 feet. Between the two, you stop at a platform that is 30 feet off the air, and switch lines. The dual zip trip will cost you $18, but if you buy two rides, you get a discount, so you pay $30 for two rides, rather than $36. Tax is not included.

Another option is the guided tour, which consists of multiple trips on various lines, through the woods. This option, which will take over two hours, will let you slide in the air for about 3,000 feet, at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. The cost for adult ride is $45.

Both options are weekend-only affairs; check the website for up-to-date information. The plan going forward, according to a representative from Trollhaugen, is for the dual zip line to be open all winter, while the guided tour will be open only for organized groups.

For ski areas, ziplines offer a chance to diversify their revenue stream. For skiers and snowboarders, a zipline offers the chance to “get some air” without having to master any tricks.

Wild Mountain, Trollhaugen, Afton, make snow

With colder temperatures descending onTwin Cities lately, snowboarders and skiers will be able to get on the snow, if only on plots about the size of a football field or two.

Today had long been scheduled as the last day that Wild Mountain offered the summer activities of alpine sliding and go-kart riding, as well as the last day of its fall festival. But in an email released early this morning, Amy Frischmon, vice president of Wild, gave the good news. “Keeping with our 35+ year tradition,” Frischmon said, “we will be the first area to open in the Midwest. In fact, this season we will be the first area to open in the Nation!”

According to the email, “we are going to make snow until we have to shut down. Once we shut down we will groom and string a rope tow. The plan is to have Front Stage & Dandy open with at least one rope, possibly two. We will get various rails and boxes out on the hill as soon as we can.”

As the email suggests, you shouldn’t plan to ride or ski all 100 acres. Only a small portion of Wild will be covered with snow, but for snow lovers, at least it will be a start. A lift ticket today is $18, but if it’s your birthday, show a photo ID and you’ll get one free of charge. Snowboarding and skiing hours today are until 5 p.m.

Today is by far the earliest that Wild Mountain has been open for winter business, says Frischmon. The previous record was October 18, set in 1992.

Just a few miles down the road, Trollhaugen ski area plans to be open for a rail jam. On its Facebook page, the area says, “compete, and/or hike Tomte for FREE!” Afton Alps laid down some snow last night, too, but is not planning to open for business today.