Michigan's Snowsports Industries Association is offering free skiing and riding to the Wolverine State's fourth grade students, and there's no catch, just a pretty straight forward offer, according to Steve Kershner, MSIA chairperson.

The Cold is Cool Ski & Ride Passport program offers students up to three free lift tickets or trail passes at 20 participating ski areas scattered throughout the state, and some offer discounted season passes to participants completing the program.

"Fourth grade is the perfect time to give skiing or riding a try.  Nine- and ten-year-olds have the coordination to pick up the sport quickly. It has the potential to become a healthy lifelong activity, and they find out winter can be a lot of fun," said the longtime snow sport director at Shanty Creek. "The only catch is that we hope they get hooked on winter."

There is a $15 printing and shipping fee for each passport ordered, which is nominal compared to the cost of three lift tickets.

Cold is Cool packets with application forms for the fourth grade Passport are mailed to all Michigan schools in November. You can also go online for an application by clicking on the link below, or pick up one at participating MSIA ski shops. A list of those is also available at the website.

Jeff Newson, a Detroit area resident, has his third son going through the program this season.

"It's a great program.  How can you go wrong with free lift tickets?" he told OnTheSnow."It encourages you to visit several areas during the season.

"My two older sons, now in fifth and sixth grades, went through it and now have discounted season passes at Shanty Creek. It really makes skiing more affordable for the family. A couple of weekend visits and the passes have paid for themselves," added Newson.  "If you're a skiing family, I can't imagine why you wouldn't take advantage of this program."

Many of the state's largest ski areas are participating; Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands, Caberfae Peaks, Crystal Mountain, Nubs Nob, Shanty Creek, Blackjack, to name just a few.

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