The Michigan Ski Industries Association (MSIA), teaming with member ski areas, is offering free skiing and riding to the Wolverine State's fourth grade students.  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, including three in the UP.

Steve Kershner, MSIA chairperson and director of skiing at [R355R, Shanty Creek], says the association wants Michigan kids to have the opportunity to experience snowsports.  "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."

A caveat is that the student has to be accompanied by a paying adult.  There is also a $15 printing and shipping fee for each passport ordered. 

"We feel that fourth graders should be supervised by an adult while on the slopes and trails.  Our intention is to make this a fun, affordable activity for the entire family," says MSIA executive director Mickey MacWilliams.  "Up to two fourth graders can ski free with each adult."

Cold is Cool packets with application forms for the fourth grade Passport were mailed to all Michigan schools last month.  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 Web site.

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

More information.