Ski season ramps up as two more Tahoe resorts open


Squaw Valley is open for business. They provided video showing a small crowd making the first tracks in the freshly groomed show. Not all of it is natural, by the way.

Like Boreal, many Tahoe resorts have stepped up their snow making in the wake of two dry seasons.

"And that's one of the reasons we have six resorts that are open this weekend," Ron Schneidermann said. "We obviously haven't really had a big storm come through yet, but there is a ton of skiable terrain open right now."

Schneidermann co-founded Liftopia. The ski bargain website just got a big new office in San Francisco and investment from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. They're growing because the ski business is changing from buying lift tickets on the mountain, to buying them in advance online.

"Just like an airline ticket or a hotel room, the further out you can search, the better a deal you're gonna get," Schneidermann said.

The bad news is almost all lift tickets are more expensive this year. The good news is some of the cheapest skiing is right now, if you don't mind the man-made snow.

Mid-weeks are cheaper than weekends, skiing on Christmas Day is a bargain, but the real way to save?

"Season pass prices are the one thing that are falling, or the value within the pass is expanding meaning you get access to more resorts or fewer blackout days," Schneidermann said.

Lift tickets aren't the only place where the ski world's business model is changing. getting your gear used to be about renting or buying. But now there's a third option -- leasing it for the whole season.

"It's huge," Sports Basement General Manager Eden Slezin said. "This time of the year last year I think we had only a couple hundred season leases, and this year we had over a thousand."

Sports Basement started the lease program for kids since they outgrow the gear quickly. But soon, adults started catching on. It's 150 for the whole season.

And if you do buy your gear, this might be a good time to do it, while last year's stuff is still on sale.

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