When Scott Knowland's wife, Liz, didn't have anyone to ski with, he did the noble thing six years ago: He learned and started going with her.
But Knowland, 51, a salesman in Bow, N.H., is a guy who likes to save a few bucks, especially when it comes to lift tickets. He has become a discount ski ticket sleuth, always looking for deals.
By scanning local newspapers, watching for ski-related grocery coupons, listening for radio station giveaways, and heading to après-ski bar promotions, Knowland doesn't pay retail.
''Three years ago, I skied about 20 times for something like 58 bucks," he said, laughing. ''We had this deal down. For me, even two-for-one is too expensive."
Yankee frugality is hot in winter. Buying a season pass before the leaves turn and the snow flies is a way to save. Having access to free skiing, by being a ski area employee, for example, is even better. Purchasing multi-day tickets at a resort also shaves the bill.
Day-trippers, too, have plenty of choices. The key is flexibility.
Ski midweek. Use the Internet, and check your ski area of choice for discounts, including timely vouchers and scheduled deal days. Sign up for e-mail newsletters. Team up with a buddy for two-for-one days. Become a night owl and ski under the lights. Ride half-days. Search for limited-terrain tickets such as those for the beginner area. If you're just starting out skiing or riding, you don't need the whole mountain.
Dedicated skiers and riders start the season inside with a viewing of filmmaker Warren Miller's latest snow sports cinematic experience. Since 1949, Miller has released an annual movie packed with adrenaline. This year, it's ''Higher Ground," and at select New England venues, theatergoers get free midweek lift tickets to various resorts. Get the schedule at www.warrenmiller.com.
Some early-season deals are linked to food. Bring nonperishable items to help local food pantries and see your ticket price slashed. Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley, Maine, has $21 tickets Nov. 19 and 20 with three cans of food. In New Hampshire, Dec. 11 is ''Cares and Shares" day at Mount Sunapee, in Newbury, where five cans of food net a $25 ticket, and Dec. 16 you get a $6 lift ticket with a food donation at King Pine Ski Area in East Madison.
Free tickets are also possible. In Newry, Maine, Sunday River's Santa Sunday rewards skiers and riders with free skiing if they dress like Santa Claus on Dec. 4. Signing up online beforehand at www.sundayriver.com is mandatory.
On Dec. 16, you pay nothing for a lift ticket at Attitash in Bartlett, N.H. On Dec. 23 at Sugarbush in Warren, Vt., ticket prices are rolled back to what they were when the lifts first started in 1958: $5.50.
Get to Attitash early Jan. 17 for Founders Day. The first 400 tickets are a cheap $7.50 -- but not as cheap as dollar day at New Hampshire's Waterville Valley March 31.
Lift tickets are $15 in the Berkshires at Ski Butternut in Great Barrington Monday-Thursday except holidays.
Celebrating its 60th anniversary this winter is eastern Vermont's Ascutney Mountain Resort in Brownsville. Non-holiday Tuesdays are two-for-one, while telemark skiers pay $25 on Thursdays.
Snowy Jay Peak at the top of Vermont offers Jay's Other Mountain Passholder deals in mid-January, providing discounted tickets to season pass holders from other mountains.
College students pay $29 (with ID) every day for the 48 trails and 2,000 feet of vertical at Pico Mountain, about 10 minutes from Killington (and owned by Killington). Bromley, in Manchester Center, Vt., has $25 daily, midweek tickets. On Family Fridays, paying adults pay $10 for each child, with a maximum of three.; a family of four pays $70. Okemo in Ludlow, Vt., has a flurry of specials, including $39 days on select Thursdays in December and March. In April, Thursdays are $29. Bolton Valley outside Burlington, Vt., has $25 tickets on Wednesdays for women.
Shawnee Peak in Bridgton, Maine, has a deal a day. Non-holiday Mondays have Carload Dayz, where $59 cash gets everyone in the car on the trails; Tuesdays are two-for-one days. Thursdays are $20 state days, with deals depending on where you live. (The dates for Massachusetts are Dec. 22, Jan. 19, Feb. 9, and March 16.)
Up in Rangeley, Maine, Saddleback has $25 lift tickets on non-holiday Mondays for women and Wednesdays for men.
Two-for-one days are big in the Granite State. Two ski for $55 on non-holiday Wednesdays at Wildcat in Pinkham Notch. Most Tuesdays and Thursdays are two-for-$54 days at Cannon in Franconia Notch. Over in Crawford Notch, Bretton Woods has non-holiday Wednesday two for $57. Select Mondays are two for $45 at Gunstock in Gilford while at Mount Sunapee, two ski for $54 on non-holiday Wednesdays. State residents pay $25 at Cannon on most Wednesdays. Excluding holidays, you'll pay $35 for two tickets Tuesday and Wednesday at Crotched Mountain in Bennington. Non-holiday midweek days are $20 at Jackson's Black Mountain.
Many resorts have discounted, non-holiday, Sunday afternoon tickets. Near Boston, Blue Hill has a 2-6 p.m. ticket for $15. After noon, ski Wildcat for $20. Ascutney is $25 for Vermont and New Hampshire residents. Mad River Glen in Waitsfield, Vt., has $25 tickets. At Shawnee Peak, the cost is $22. At Okemo, it's also $22 for Vermont and New Hampshire residents.
Deals aren't limited just to day trips. You don't have to sleep in the back of the truck. Treat yourself a little. The Millbrook Inn in Waitsfield has a midweek package (lift ticket to Mad River Glen, lodging, breakfast, and dinner) for $101 per person, double occupancy. For those who'd rather ski Sugarbush, the price is $108. Visit www.millbrookinn.com.
Stay in Fryeburg, Maine, at Peace With-Inn (www.peacewithinn.com), a bed-and-breakfast, and for $95 per night (two-night minimum), including breakfast and lift tickets for two, ski at either Shawnee Peak or North Conway's Cranmore.
Special season-long, ski-and-stay packages at Sugarloaf (www.sugarloaf.com) start at $59 per person, based on double occupancy, and include lift ticket and lodging.
As Knowland says of hunting ski deals, ''If you are out there, you will find them. It's kind of a game."
Contact Marty Basch, a freelance writer in New Hampshire, at firstname.lastname@example.org.