Fifth- and sixth-graders can ski free or cheap with special pass |

Fifth- and sixth-graders can ski free or cheap with special pass

This Nov. 23, 2013, photo, shows an adult skiing with a child at Park City Mountain Resort, in Park City, Utah. About half of Utah’s 14 resorts are up and running on snow that piled up during November. Officials say season-pass sales are strong. Park City has booked 28 percent of the season for lodging already. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

If only we looked 10 years old.

Colorado Ski Country USA, the trade association for most of the state’s ski resorts, announced last week that its popular passport programs have returned for the 2014-15 ski season.

The program gives fifth-graders three free days at each of 20 ski resorts. Sixth-graders can get a $99 pass for four days each at the same resorts.

The program also includes a free January lesson and one day of free gear rental at 17 ski areas for fifth-grade beginners.

Since the program began about 15 years ago, the passports have introduced more than 250,000 Colorado kids to skiing and snowboarding.

“We strongly believe that every child should have the opportunity to learn our state’s signature winter sports and become lifelong skiers and snowboarders,” said Melanie Mills, president and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA. “The First Class Lesson program ensures that fledgling young skiers and snowboarders receive high-quality professional instruction for that memorable first day on the slopes.”

Resorts participating in the passport program include Arapahoe Basin, Aspen Highlands, Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk, Copper Mountain, Crested Butte, Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort, Eldora, Howelsen Hill, Loveland, Monarch, Powderhorn, Ski Cooper, Ski Granby Ranch, Snowmass, Steamboat, Sunlight, Telluride, Winter Park and Wolf Creek.

Parents can visit, email or call (303) 866-9707 to learn more about the program or register kids.

Vail Resorts, which isn’t part of the Ski Country group, offers its own free skiing program for fifth- and sixth-graders — School of Shred — which provides four free days at Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Vail and Beaver Creek as well as a free first-timer lesson and rental in January.

The free lesson, offered Jan. 5 to Jan. 30 at those resorts except Arapahoe Basin, doesn’t require advance reservation unless the kids want to ski or ride with a group of 10 or more.

Parents can email for information on the Vail Resorts program.

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