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Downhill skiing is an expensive sport, but there are deals to be had if you're willing to put in some serious time researching. There are also a bunch of secret ways to save big bucks by skiing for free. Here are some to consider:
SANTA SKI FREE
Dress up like Santa and hit the slopes for free at Alyeska Resort in Alaska on December 24, at Shanty Creek Resorts in Michigan on December 25, at Whistler Blackcomb in Canada (date TBA), at Bolton Valley in Vermont on December 21 and Windham Mountain Resort in New York on December 14 (preregistration required).
Buy a new ski or board package, and get a store gift card and lift ticket to one of nine area ski resorts from Pelican Shops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
MILITARY SKI FREE
Are you an active military member? If so, ski free at Sipapu in New Mexico, Mohawk Mountain in Connecticut, Tahoe resorts including Sierra at Tahoe (on Sundays), Squaw Valley (Sunday through Friday), Diamond Peak (midweek, nonholiday) and Homewood (non-holidays). Some resorts have black-out dates, so check before you go. Many other resorts offer military and veteran discounts.
TAHOE LICENSE PLATE
If you live in California and Nevada, you can support the Tahoe Fund (with proceeds going to environmental improvement projects) by buying a Tahoe license plate. In return, you get two free Alpine or Nordic tickets to the Tahoe area resort of your choice. License plates are only $50 (California) or $61 (Nevada), so this is quite a deal.
SHELL’S SKI FREE
Details of Shell's 2015 gas promotion haven't been revealed yet, but in 2014, a 10 gallon fill-up at participating stations entitled you to a voucher for one free lift ticket (with purchase of a full price adult ticket) at designated resorts.
ALTA TOW ROPES
It's not as exciting as a lift, but if you're willing to ski the base area tows, head to Alta in Utah for three tow areas that are free to ski every day.
Deborah Abrams Kaplan writes adventure and family travel for the New York Daily News, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Shape, Family Fun, Continental and Bankrate.com. She's skied for free at Keystone Resort in Colorado, and reviewed that resort along with Smuggler's Notch and Shawnee at JerseyKids.net. You can find JerseyKids at Twitter @JerseyKids or Facebook.