Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA) is offering free skiing and riding to the Wolverine State's fourth grade students. So what's the catch?

No catch, just a pretty straight-forward offer, according to Steve Kershner, MSIA chairperson.


"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," Kershner said. "The only catch is that we hope they get hooked on winter."


The Cold is Cool Ski & Ride Passport program offers students up to three free lift tickets or trail passes at 21 participating ski areas scattered throughout the state, including three in the UP, and several offer discounted season passes to participants completing the program. 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 the fall. You can also go online for an application by clicking here, or pick up one at participating MSIA ski shops. A list of those is also available at the website.


Jeff Newson, from the Sterling Heights area, had three sons go through the program.


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


“My three sons recently went through it and now have discounted season passes at [R355R, Shanty Creek]. It really makes skiing more affordable for the family. A couple of weekend visits and the passes have paid for themselves," Newson said. "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:  [R73R, Boyne Mountain Resort] and [R72R, Boyne Highlands], [R94R, Caberfae Peaks Ski & Golf Resort], [R123R, Crystal Mountain], [R301R, Nubs Nob Ski Area], Shanty Creek in the Lower Peninsula and [R47R, Big Powderhorn] and [R55R, Blackjack Ski Resort] in the Upper Peninsula to name just a few.