No business like snow business: Slopes in 23 states boost tourism with free ski lessons


When you graph the stock market's recent lifespan, it's a pretty steep drop. A plunge like that is a little too stomach-churning for some people. But look at that downward slope another way. If it were on a mountain, it would be an exciting black diamond ski run.

Vermont knows how to make the most of a steep drop. In an effort to drag tourists away from their financial statements and back into its tourist industry, more than a dozen ski resorts and facilities in the state are teaming up to give away free skiing or snowboarding lessons over eight days.

Between January 4 and 11, members of the Vermont Ski Areas Association are setting aside time to teach novices the basics and, hopefully, convert some new devotees. To get a free lesson, all you have to do is book your slot online ahead of time (it's first-come, first-served, so no dawdling) and pick the resort where you'd like to learn.

Generally, participants can be as young as 6, but a few locations have minimum ages of 8 or 13. The only thing that's asked of you is that you're truly a beginner. (If you're just really, really bad at skiing, I'm sure they wouldn't mind that, either, because it's always hilarious to watch newbies snowplow down the bunny slope and tumble off their first chair lift dismount. Bring the kids and a camera.)

January, it turns out, is National Learn a Snowsport Month. (Pause to spit out your hot chocolate and laugh.) So Vermont's ski slopes aren't the only places where a new recruit can wax his skis for the first time. A group called the Snowsports Industries of America is mounting a day of lessons, too. This event, which will dole out free snowshoeing and cross country skiing tutorials, falls on January 10, and it's going on in 19 states. Go to the group's Winter Trails event website to book your slots for that giveaway.