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Bargains and deals enough to give any skier a lift

Email|Print| Text size + By Marty Basch
Globe Correspondent / November 12, 2006

Finding a cheap lift ticket is as easy as opening an e-mail. At least that's true for the Eastern Inter-Club Ski League's 1,500 members.

"People send me the deals they find," said league president Clark Linehan, of Gloucester, who compiles and sends out the ski clubs' electronic newsletter. "If there is a $20 lift ticket, I'll stick it in there."

But what if you're not a member of the league (eicsl.org)? Well, you can start with a little research.

Ski areas post ticket specials and money-saving days on their websites. Watch for discount days when they cut prices to residents of a particular state. Or sign up for a ski area e-newsletter, which can come loaded with bargains.

E-coupons on Jiminy Peak's website (jiminypeak.com) yield savings on four dates with $19 skiing and riding.

Don't overlook the obvious. Scan ski town newspapers for on-slope and après-ski deals. Watch and listen for promotions at grocery stores, gas stations, radio stations, and in that hopping ski bar. Or become a nocturnal rider and carve at night when tickets are generally cheaper. Crotched Mountain in Bennington, N.H., offers night skiing for $22 midweek, while Nashoba in Westford charges $30.

Team up with a buddy to take advantage of two-for-one, non-holiday, midweek offerings, many for under $30. The Granite State is loaded with those opportunities. On Monday, it's Gunstock. On Tuesday, it's Crotched and Tenney. On Wednesday, it's Wildcat, Sunapee, and Bretton Woods. King Pine has two-for-one Tuesday through Thursday, and Cannon offers the same deal Tuesday and Thursday, except Dec. 26 and 28. Vermont's Ascutney has two-for-one skiing on Tuesdays with $29 Wednesday tickets for snowboarders and $29 Thursday telemark skiing tickets.

"If you do it right, there are some good deals out there if you don't work or can figure out when you can work," said Mad River Glen marketing director Eric Friedman. Mad River offers a midweek, non-holiday $29 ticket for AARP members all season and plans a $29 midweek, non-holiday ticket in January.

Many small and mid size hills have regular bargain prices. Ski Butternut in Great Barrington advertises $15 tickets Monday through Thursday on non-holidays. New Hampshire's Dartmouth Skiway in Hanover is home to $20 non-holiday lift tickets. Black Mountain in Rumford, Maine, also has $20 prices, while Black Mountain in Jackson, N.H., asks $22. Saddleback in Rangeley, Maine, charges $25 for women on Mondays and men on Wednesdays, while Mount Abram in Locke Mills, Maine, promotes two -for -$27 adult tickets on non-holiday Thursdays and Fridays.

Have to ski weekends? Don't despair. Head to Vermont and Bromley's Family Fridays, where a family of four skis for $70 (that's $25 each for two adults and $10 per child, up to three). Ski, ride, tube, and rent under the stars at Pats Peak in Henniker, N.H., on Saturdays for $29, Gilford's Gunstock for $28, and Keene's Granite Gorge for $19, on Friday nights, too. Cranmore's $19 Cranapalooza ticket is good Saturdays from 2 to 9 p.m. (plus Dec. 26 and Feb. 21). Shawnee Peak in Bridgton, Maine, has a $10 Saturday night ticket good from 7 to 10 , while King Pine in East Madison, N.H., promotes a $42 Saturday night family of four ticket. Some deals exist on Sundays, too. Wildcat charges $20, while Burke Mountain's Ski and Ride days are $20 starting at 12:15 p.m. on select Sundays in January and every Sunday in March.

Go to a select screening of a Warren Miller movie in November or December -- "Off the Grid" is the latest offering from skiing's ageless adrenaline junkie -- and you get free midweek lift tickets with admission (warrenmiller.com). Those attending the screening at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine, on Nov. 17 get passes to Sugarloaf, Sunday River, and Attitash. Lift tickets to Killington, Attitash, and Ascutney await those attending the Nov. 21 and 22 showings at the Opera House in Lebanon, N.H. Killington, Mount Snow, and Jiminy Peak tickets will be offered at the Dec. 6 showings at Pittsfield's Colonial Theatre.

Sometimes cheap is relative. Okemo has skier appreciation days for $39, while rewards cards are available at many areas.

It doesn't get cheaper than free, and free it is on Dec. 15 at Attitash. First responders like firefighters , police, and paramedics , and their immediate relatives receive free tickets on Emergency Personnel Appreciation Day on Dec. 16 at Mount Abram. Dress up like Santa for Sunday River's Santa Sunday on Dec. 3 and ski free, but first sign up online at sundayriver.com. Ride and ski free at Wildcat on your birthday.

A few ski areas roll back lift ticket prices to the T-bar days. Mad River Glen's $3.50 ticket on the last Tuesday in January is truly retro, while the first 400 who show up at Attitash on Jan. 26 pay the 1965 price: $7.50. Sugarbush offers a $5.50 lift ticket on Dec. 22. Stay awake for Wachusett's 24- Hour Night on Feb. 23 to ski and ride from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. for about $15.

Contact Marty Basch, a freelance writer in New Hampshire, at marty@martybasch.com.

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