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Utah News

Ski Utah Program Works To Build Life-Long Skiers

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have turned to the outdoors for recreation. And during Utah winters, that often means hitting the slopes. For at least 30-years, the Ski Utah Passport program has provided an affordable way for 5th and 6th graders to try out the sport. 

“Skiing this year has been like one of the only things that we've felt really, truly safe doing. And like, it gives us an opportunity to leave the house and do something we enjoy,” said Heather Blackburn.

 

Blackburn and her husband Brandon are loving the experience of teaching their kids to ski. However, without the Ski Utah Passport program she may have never developed a love of the sport for herself. 

 

The passport program allows fifth graders to go to every Utah ski resort 3 times and sixth graders to go to each resort once for $49 each. For Heather, who grew up in a single parent household, it was a great opportunity. 

 

“For me, it was probably the only way that I could have been able to even get up there at that time,” she said.

 

Heather’s husband Brandon Blackburn also used the Ski Utah Passport program when he was younger and looks back at those memories with fondness.

 

“It's pretty awesome that the program existed, because not only did they get me to the mountains, which my parents weren't able to do, but like Heather kind of talked about, it just gives you this love, you know, for being up in the mountains,” he said. “And then it familiarizes you at a young age, which makes it I think a little bit less intimidating.”

 

Paul Marshall is a consultant for Ski Utah and previously worked as their communications director and says aiming the program at 5th and 6th graders was a conscious decision. 

 

“Studies show that you kind of pick your hobbies around that time, around that age, and so to try to convert and have lifelong skiers, we've been pushing this passport program,” Marshall said.

 

One budding life-long skier is high school senior Benjamin Owen who used the passport as a child. 

 

“I think it’s a great pass just because I was able to explore a lot of resorts,” he said. “Like now I ski at Alta, but I wouldn't have been as sure that like Alta is the place I want to go, you know. And I feel like it really helped open up all the resorts to me and I was able to like ski more terrain.”