By Jann Wiswall

Lift tickets for skiing and boarding can be expensive investments, especially for young children who have never tried it before. But this winter, you can get your youngsters onto the slopes to give it a try without purchasing a lift ticket!

This year, third and fourth graders from any state or country may ski or ride for (almost) free at the majority of New York’s ski resorts with the ISKINY Passport Program — Holiday Valley included.

The Passport is good for the entire 2013-14 season and entitles children to three free lift tickets at each participating New York resort when accompanied by a paying adult. If they’re new to snowsports, you can also sign them up for a Learn to Ski or Ride Passport entitling them to a free lesson and a 20 percent discount off a future lesson at each resort. The passport also offers discounts for adult lessons.

Parents simply need to fill out the ISKINY Free For Kids Passport Application and mail or fax it with a $22 processing fee and a copy of each third and fourth graders’ report card, progress report or letter from the school stating that your child is in third or fourth grade (homeschoolers are eligible, too; appropriate documentation is required).

You will then receive a booklet of coupons good for free lift tickets when an adult purchases a lift ticket. Three coupons per ski area are in the booklet. Each adult may accompany up to two children.

If your child has never tried a snowsport before, you may want to choose the Learn to Ski or Snowboard Package booklet that contains a free Learn to Ski or Snowboard package for the child (including lifts, rentals and lessons) and coupons for a 20 percent discount on a future visit for the youngster, as well as discounts for adult lessons. Again, you get coupons for each participating ski area.

Once you receive your Free for Kids Passport(s), make sure to check for any special rules at each resort of your choice. Some resorts have blackout dates (Holiday Valley does not) and redemption rules on season passes and other special passes may vary. Some resorts require you to make advance reservations for classes using the Learn to Ski or Snowboard coupons. See the individual resorts’ Web sites for additional details.
The Free for Kids Passport program is a terrific, inexpensive way to get your little snowsports lovers off to a good and safe start in their skiing/boarding careers. Visit www.iskiny.com, to get answers to every question you may have. You’ll want to take advantage of this great program from the very start of the season, so it pays to apply now.

Visit www.44free.com for complete information on obtaining a passport for your fourth graders this season and getting those future hot-doggers off to a good and safe start on the slopes.