Minnesota Ski & Snowboard Expo at Mall of America

Snow has fallen in various parts of the country, some ski areas in the Twin Cities have been testing their snowguns, and today is your day to “think snow” by visiting the Minnesota Ski & Snowboard Expo.

TRPD

The annual event is underway at the Mall of America, in the first-floor rotunda on the east side. Unlike last year, the event is a Friday-Saturday event only. If you wait until tomorrow, you’ll miss out.

What will you find at the show? For one thing, a chance to get free lift tickets at various ski areas. (If you’re lucky, you may even score a season pass.) There are also deals on lift tickets, season passes, and lessons.

Each ski area has its brochures describing programs, lessons, and tickets, though you should take the time to talk with the representatives from various ski areas. Ask about the latest developments and upcoming events. You’ll also be able to learn about some areas that may be unfamiliar to you.

Free lift tickets

Regional ski areas represented include Afton Alps, Andes Tower Hills, Buck Hill, Detroit Mountain, Giants Ridge, Granite Peak, Hyland Hills Ski Area, Mount Kato, Powder Ridge, Ski Gull, Spirit Mountain, Trollhaugen Recreation Area, Welch Village, and Wild Mountain. Big Sky, Montana, which has a marketing arrangement with Welch Village, is also on hand.

The G Team is having a drawing for a free snowboard, and HELP boardshop has a small selection of snowboards.

You’ll find brochures with information on ticket prices, lessons, and special events, as well as trail maps. But the biggest benefit may be the chance to talk with representatives of each area, who can provide more details about the latest developments. Hyland Hills Ski Area, for example, has a new chalet (a $14 million project) that will bring a lot of benefits to skiers and snowboarders, but also the end of free parking. The number of parking slots near the base, never large, has been truncated due to the expanded footprint of the chalet as well as legal requirements to install new handicapped parking spots. (If you don’t wish to pay $20 a day, you can take a free shuttle bus to a no-charge parking lot about a mile away.) At the Lutsen booth, ask about the new gondola, which will change your experience on the North Shore resort, and pick up the latest mountain-themed poster.

Free safety advice

The show will be open from 10 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.