By Alicia Dziak

January is National Learn a Snowsport Month. Ski resorts all across the country are celebrating with great deals on learn to ski or ride packages, and, of course, Ellicottville is in on the action. Head to either of EVL’s resorts this month and score huge savings while you start enjoying the snow.

At HoliMont, in January only, they are offering their Learn to Ski, Snowboard or Telemark special during the week for $85, which includes an hour and a half beginner lesson with lift ticket, lesson and basic equipment rental. Bring a friend to the same lesson for free. Weekend Learn to Ski, Snowboard or Telemark Private Lesson are $135, which includes an hour and a half lesson with basic rental, and you can bring a friend to the same lesson for free. (Weekend visitors must be signed in as  guests.)

“HoliMont is lucky to have a great group of certified PSIA/AASI (Professional Ski Instructors of America and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors) trained instructors who pride themselves on giving quality lessons,” said Wendy Frank, HoliMont’s Snowsports School Director. “Our group lessons are usually no more than five people per lesson, so the amount of individual attention in each lesson is high. For those interested in learning how to Telemark ski, HoliMont has the largest group of certified Nordic instructors in Western New York who are eager to introduce you to this exciting sport.” (HoliMont also offers TeleFest Day in March, which features Tele-lessons for all levels.)

HoliMont takes their lessons seriously. “We have more than 150 instructors including Alpine, Nordic, Snowboard and Adaptive who are certified by PSIA/AASI,” Frank explained. “Our Phoenix Adaptive Program is outstanding, and instructors come from other areas to train with us. Our instructors, eager to improve, attend weekly clinics to sharpen their skiing, riding and teaching skills taught by PSIA/AASI trained clinicians. For those enthusiastic instructors heading to certification exams during the season, we also provide afternoon clinics with our PSIA/AASI Ace Team members and examiners. Our instructors are a well-trained and enthusiastic group who look forward to teaching each week.”

And why do so many people choose to take lessons at HoliMont? “People who have visited HoliMont love the warm, welcoming, family-oriented atmosphere,” noted Frank. “HoliMont is a private club only open to members and their guests on the weekends, but it opens its hills to the public during the week. There are six chair lifts and one surface lift at HoliMont, and a great new beginner area with a Magic Carpet to get skiers and riders safely up the hill. As our High Speed Expo chair whisks skiers to the top in no time, we rarely have long lift lines, and have lots of wonderful terrain available from Black Diamonds to Green slopes. Our cross-country and snowshoe trails are free of charge and offer a variety of terrain for the more adventurous.”

For anyone looking to rent equipment for their downhill adventure, Frank said, “Our Gear Up shop just received all new rental equipment to help new skiers and riders learn more easily.”

For those in the market for a new helmet, jacket or goggles, be sure to stop by the Slopeside Shop in the Main Chalet.

Over at Holiday Valley, there are also  great deals for newbies. Throughout the month, get a half priced learn to ski or learn to snowboard package (ages 12 and up). The daytime price is $30 and the price for a night package is $22. The Beginner’s Package includes a beginner’s lesson, beginner’s lift ticket and rental equipment for skiing or snowboarding. Register and receive rental equipment at Creekside Lodge. Day Lessons are offered daily and start between 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Night learn to ski/snowboard packages are available with one hour lessons at 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.

As part of the month-long celebration, Holiday Valley is participating in the World’s Largest Ski and Snowboard Lesson on Friday, Jan. 6. See page 11 for details.