The school vacation weeks are upon us, which in New England is the traditional midpoint of the ski season. Once the calendar flips to March, expect the crowds to thin a bit (even if the conditions remain spectacular), while price breaks and discounts are as certain as the impending spring thaw.
A trend in recent years has been for resorts that expect to be major players beyond March to start announcing spring pass deals as early as February. Killington and Okemo have done so already, and over the next few weeks expect a host of other mountains to unveil either stand-alone spring pass deals or combo offers that tie in the purchase of a 2015-16 season pass with some sort of promotion that entitles you to ski free for the rest of this season.
Killington has started selling a $179 spring pass that will be valid March 14 through the end of the season. The incentive is to buy early because after March 1 the cost rises to $199.
Okemo has a “Spring Skiesta” card good for unlimited skiing March 20 through closing day. It’s on sale as of March 1, with tiered pricing: bought online March 1-19 ($99); bought online on or after March 20 ($109); bought in person at the resort any time ($129). As a bonus, through April 30 you can apply $99 of the Skiesta card toward the purchase of a 2015-16 season pass.
Mountain biking on snow has a chance to be the next big thing at resorts. Stratton is rolling out “fat bike” snow cycling demos and tours. The first demo day will be Saturday in the Sun Bowl from 3-5 p.m. A limited amount of participants will be able to go out on a 6 p.m. group ride to Stratton Village via Trail 91. In March, guided daytime and moonlight tours will be added to the schedule . . . Ever wanted to learn biathlon skills but have no firearms experience? The Waterville Valley Nordic Center will have paintball biathlon lessons March 14 and 15 that are open to cross-country skiers and snowshoers. The cost ($10 for those under 18; $15 for adults; $40 for a family of four or more) includes a safety clinic and a sprint-course event that includes two shooting loops . . . Sunapee will hold its fifth annual “Winter Wild” uphill-then-downhill race at 6:30 a.m. on Feb. 28. You can skin, run, or snowshoe up the mountain and choose to ski or board down. The Course is 4 miles with prizes based on uphill footwear category and age groups. Registration costs $20 (advance) or $25 (day of).
Steals and deals
Crotched Mountain will host snowboard airbag sessions Feb. 27-March 1. Separate tickets (unlimited jumps $20) are required in addition to a lift ticket . . . Ragged will discount Feb. 28 lift tickets to $44 for anyone who shows up to ski dressed in head-to-toe Star Wars-themed garb (just a Darth Vader mask won’t cut it) . . . Friday lift tickets at Attitash and Wildcat will drop to $40 starting in March . . . Kids ski free at Mad River Glen on March 3 . . . Starting March 5, Sugarbush will revert to $30 Thursday pricing for tickets valid on the Mount Ellen portion of the resort . . . Catamount now has $20 e-ticket deals on Mondays and Thursdays . . . Late risers will appreciate Mount Snow’s “Sunday Sleeper” $29 lift tickets valid 12-4 p.m. If you round up four people for the deal, the combo price is $99.