Snow Surfing Events Coming Up

Over the next couple of days, there will be two events relating to snow surfing.

The first is an open house at the “World Headquarters” of Snow Surfer Productions LLC, in Buffalo, Minn, on Friday, March 6. Tour the facility and learn a bit about the history of snowboarding from company owner Mark Halseth. Play a game of cornhole and you may win your own snow surfer. Even if your skills at throwing small bean bags through a whole is weak, you may still win, as there will be a drawing.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the talk starts at 7:30.

On Saturday, March 7, there will be an on-snow demo at Buffalo Heights Golf Course, from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.

For a link to a maps that will get you to the location for the events, see the St. Paul Snowboard Examiner.

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Three ski areas offer autumn open houses this weekend

Though there’s no snow on the ground (yet), there’s still plenty of snow-related activity going on in the Twin Cities this weekend.

Have pumpkin, ready to paint!

Have pumpkin, ready to paint!

Wild Mountain will have a gear swap and open house on Saturday, October 4, and Sunday, October 5. Hours will be from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Drop off old gear, buy some new ones. The cost for selling is a minimal flat fee of $5 for all your stuff, plus 15 percent of the sale price, which will benefit the ski patrol. If you have gear to sell, drop it off on Friday (noon until 8 p.m.) or just before the swap begins on Saturday (8 a.m. until 9 a.m.).

The weekend will also be the last chance to buy a season pass at a discount. You’ll also be able to sign your children up for group ski or snowboard lessons. Head over to the Wild Mountain website for a coupon that will give you a 50 percent discount on alpine slides, go-karts, and the FreeFall XP. This will the last weekend for these features. (For more on those, see our review of summer activities at Wild.) And to add an autumnal flavor to the weekend, Wild will be hosting Sunrise River Farm, which will be selling fresh apples, carmel apples, and apple cider. Yum!

Across the St. Croix River in Wisconsin, Trollhaugen will have an autumn event on the weekend as well. Buy and sell equipment on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. If you’ve got gear to sell, get it over there today or Friday between the hours of noon and 6 p.m. The cost to sell is a 15 percent commission, to benefit the ski patrol, plus $3 per item.

If you’re not shopping for equipment, you can take in the zip lines and aerial challenge park. Hours are between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. both days, but you should make reservations (715-755-2955).

On Sunday, Trollhaugen will have a number of events and features, including “Bouncy Castles. Baker Apple Orchard stand. Dan the Kettle Corn man. Games. Prizes. Movie Premieres. & Trolls!” Get there between noon and 4 p.m. for the widest selection of events.

If you’re looking for a free lift ticket, bring in some food (two cans or boxed items), a coat, or baby wipes. Help someone out and help yourself at the same time.

There will be a rail jam (entry fee: $25) from noon until 5 p.m. or so. You’ve got to register first. Not only will you be eligible for prizes, but your entry fees will be used to enhance terrain park features. That’s a win-win.

The weekend finishes up with two new movies, starting around 6 p.m., in the lodge.

Afton Alps will be having its own celebration this weekend, and then for good measure, doing it all over again next week. As with Trollhaugen, you can examine a slope from the air through a free chairlift ride, or ride a hay wagon. There will be face painting, a candy hunt, pumpkin-painting, and live music. If you come on Saturday, October 11, you’ll be able to sample a number of beers and wines.

Afton’s equipment swap starts Friday afternoon, running from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m., and continues on Saturday and Sunday. If you have stuff to sell, expect to pay a $2 fee per item (maximum fee: $10), plus 20 percent of the sale price.

So there you have it. Three ski areas, three chances to find cheap equipment, and three different opportunities to enjoy fall, and anticipate winter.

The swap and other activities runs until 5 p.m. on the weekend, starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday.

Ski swap at Buck Hill September 26-28

It’s a warm weekend in the Twin Cities, but you can still “think snow” by attending a ski and snowboard sale at Buck Hill.

Buck Hill tent sale 2014

You’ll find alpine skis and snowboards, mostly used, plus plenty of boots for both kinds of equipment. Most of the gear is used, but you’ll find new items, too, if that’s what you are looking for. Bindings as separate items, whether ski or board, are not nearly as common. Also for sale are ski poles, goggles, and clothing, including speed suits for ski racers. The goods are in two tents pitched in the parking lot, plus the chalet.

While you’re there, you can check out various youth development programs, such as the G team, purchase a season pass, or simply pick up the new season’s brochure that outlines the basics of passes, tickets, lessons, and other things, including — for the right person with small feet — a snowboard with step-in bindings and matching boots.

Step-in bindings

The sale runs through 7 p.m. on Saturday, with just two hours tomorrow morning, 10 a.m. , through noon. The sale/swap benefits the Buck Hill Ski Racing Club.

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.

Saving money on daily lift tickets in the Twin Cities

A season pass is the cheapest way to get a lift ticket, but what if you want to go snowboarding and don’t want to buy a pass? Take a look at the pricing policies of several ski areas, and take advantage of the one that makes the most sense for you. The ski areas in the Twin Cities of Minnesota price their tickets in a number of ways. Here are some guidelines, based on prices for a single adult ticket.

You can save by buying later in the day, though sometimes the difference is so little that it may not be worth the bother to wait. Afton Alps drops the price of a weekday ticket from $33 to $30, but only after 4:30 p.m.Hyland Hills gives a $2 discount if you start your weekday playtime at 3:00 p.m., rather than noon. (The prices drops from $31 to $29).

On the other hand, Wild Mountain offers a more substantial discount. The price goes from $43 to $31 when nighttime hours kick in at 3:00 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays, and at 4:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Welch Village offers a similar price cut (from $49 to $37) at 4:00 p.m. Curiously, Buck Hill also has a discount that kicks in at 4:00 p.m., but only on weekends.

You won’t always pay more for buying a ticket on the weekends. Afton Alps and Buck Hill charge more for Saturday and Sunday tickets, but Hyland Hills, Welch Village, and Wild Mountain do not.

If you want to get out for just a few hours, consider a time-limited ticket. Buck Hill may offer the best deal. Its 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. ticket lets you ride for four hours on a weekday for $13, less than half the all-day price of $27. It has early-bird pricing on weekends, too. At Hyland Hills, $15 will buy you a ticket that’s good for riding from 9:30 a.m. until noon, though only on Tuesdays or Thursdays.

At Buck Hill or at Hyland Hills, you can also save by getting a late-night ticket that starts at 7:00 p.m., 7:30 p.m., or 8:00 p.m., depending on the day. You won’t get in much snowboarding time, but then again, you don’t need a lot of time to cover most of the ground at either area.

No matter where you go, however, expect to pay more on holidays.

Working at a ski area: Earn money, get a season pass

Ski areas in the Twin Cities will soon be hiring for the upcoming season. The pay isn’t great, as many of the jobs are at or slightly above minimum wage. But you may get a lift ticket free of charge, or nearly so, and a chance to look at winter in a whole new way.

Some of the jobs are behind the scenes, while others require intense contact with the public. Some keep you inside during your shift, while others allow or require you to be outdoors.

The outside jobs include lift operators, instructors, patrollers, and ambassadors. Other jobs involve making and grooming snow, though these are relatively few.

Jobs that keep you inside include bartenders and food service workers, ticket agents, retail shop clerks, custodians, and repair shop technicians. Of course, you could always ride before or after your shift.

Buck Hill has yet to announce its plans for the season, but other resorts have already signaled their intentions.

Wild Mountain will be having informational sessions, Friday, October 5 through Sunday, October 7. The hours will be 11 a.m. through 4 p.m.

Afton Alps has announced a jobs fair for Monday, October 22 and Tuesday, October 23, with hours to be determined.

Welch Village will have a job fair on Wednesday, October 24, and Thursday, October 25, running from 4 p.m through 7 p.m. each day.

Since Hyland Hills is run by a government agency, its hiring process is a bit more formal. Check out their website for more.