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Making Skiing More Accessible

Skiing can often be a daunting and scary sport to try at first. There are a variety of barriers to entry including financial restrictions, physical disabilities, lack of experience, or fear of falling. It also doesn’t help that oftentimes more experienced skiers “gatekeep”* the sport. Gatekeeping is when someone uses a hobby or interest as a means of elevating themselves above others to give oneself a sense of being superior. This makes beginners feel like they don’t belong. Skiing and the outdoors should be accessible to everyone! So let's make skiing more accessible with tips, info, and resources to help anyone and everyone get started.

It’s okay to be a beginner!

At least for me, I expect myself to be good at something on the first try. Skiing is similar to riding a bike, once you master the foundations your skills build on themselves. Enjoy the process of learning something new! You will learn a lot about yourself in the process and push yourself beyond your comfort zone. I would recommend signing up for the Sky Tavern Junior Ski Program. It is open to parents and kids wanting to learn how to ski together! Or you can take a lesson at one of the local ski resorts. Keep in mind you do not have to be an expert to have fun!

Low-Cost Community Ski Programs:

If you have a child wanting to try skiing but do not have the funds there are a variety of programs in the Reno/Sparks area that provide assistance at a low cost.

Sky Tavern: The Sky Tavern Junior Ski Program is the oldest and largest volunteer-staffed ski school in the country. Since 1948 over 100,000 kids have been part of STJSP. It is an amazing program for both parents and children to learn the fundamentals of skiing. Two-hour lessons are offered to adults and children from PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) certified instructors. Sky Tavern programs start in January and cost less than one day at a major resort! They also offer an adaptive ski program! Specially trained staff are available to help kids with physical and mental disabilities get on the slopes!

Skiing Is Believing: This is a local non-profit that offers active sport/ski camps and after-school programs to Reno/Sparks youth. They also offer scholarships to those who cannot afford their programs!

Boreal Ridge: Boreal is a great place to learn and has beginner-friendly terrain. They offer a “Kids Ride Free Pass" - kids 8 and under get a free season pass with the purchase of an adult Unlimited Pass. They also offer $15 lift ticket Fridays for college students.

Getting the Gear:

Gear is one of the trickier parts of entering the skiing/snowboarding world. Buying new skis, jackets, pants, poles, ski boots, gloves, helmets, goggles, and more can be thousands of dollars worth of gear that most cannot afford. My best advice would be to purchase your gear used from either consignment shops such as Gear Hut or find used gear online on Facebook Marketplace, GearTrade, Evo, SidelineSwap, or Steep and Cheap. If you are brand new to skiing I would recommend renting gear before making a big purchase!

Budget and Beginner friendly resorts in the Reno/Tahoe area:

  • Boreal Ridge

  • Diamond Peak

  • Granlibakken

  • Sugar Bowl

  • Donner Ski Ranch

  • Tahoe Donner

  • Soda Springs Mountain Resort

Online Resources:

If you have some skiing/boarding under your belt but have a particular skill you are wanting to learn, YouTube is a great resource! Here are some of my favorite channels to learn from:

I would highly recommend taking a lesson if you have never skied before!

Other Tips for affordable skiing/snowboarding:

  • If your schedule/job allows, purchase a midweek pass! It is a cheaper option than an unlimited pass.

  • Book your lessons in advance! A lot of resorts offer discounts to those who purchase packages early!

  • Get a part-time job at a ski area! If your schedule allows, this is a great opportunity for someone wanting to learn more about skiing and snowboarding. If you work for the resort you receive a free season pass and get discounts on lessons!

  • Pack a Lunch! Resort food can be really expensive!

  • Bring your ID if you are ​​a college student, senior citizen, or veteran. Resorts offer a lot of discounts to these populations.

  • Get a season-long rental! It is cheaper than renting gear every time you ski!

  • Purchase a half-day lift ticket, it’s most likely ½ the price!


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