Many people come to SNC, the heart of Tahoe, and don’t get to try Skiing or snowboarding. I have met a few people who simply do not want to, and that is fine. Knowing the monetary cost of the sport, I figured the main reason someone would not ski or snowboard is that. Lift tickets at Northstar are over 110 dollars for a single day! Having a season pass and my own gear, these costs often don’t cross my mind, but if you are a first timer, not fully committed to the sport, I can completely understand the reluctance.
This interactive map shows some of the many ski resorts within a two-hour drive of SNC. Yet many people who want to ski do not get the opportunity.
Lift tickets are just a fraction of the cost. Many people have never been before and don’t know where to start. Granted, they probably know people like myself who ski and snowboard regularly, and are quite proficient at the sport. Perhaps they do not know anyone who is willing to ski with a complete beginner. Lessons start at around $50 a day for a beginner group lesson, but only last an hour or two. A big saving on money would come from friends teaching friends.
My inspiration to choose this topic for my Honors project was when one of my friends asked me to teach them snowboarding. When I decided to take this project on, I found two other friends who wanted to learn to snowboard, and had never been. In trying to arrange a day and figure out logistics, I learned of some new obstacles to starting that I had not even thought about.
First of all, finding a day that worked was difficult because people are so busy. To me, snowboarding is such a part of my life, I am used so spending 5 days a week out on the hill. I have forced it into my schedule because that is what I care about and love. Other people seem willing, but are caught up with school and work every day.
I told them that a diamond peak ticket was $35, the cheapest in the area, and they could rent a full setup of snowboard, boots, and bindings for $40. However, I had one extra snowboard and bindings, and one friend had someone else’s they could borrow, so boots only can be rented for $20. Spending $55 to $75 in one day still seemed a lot to me, so I went online and found that you could rent boots from another place for only $10, and if we went on a Friday to Boreal, a lift ticket was only $15 for college students. I thought we were all set. However, when the day came, one asked me what they should wear. I told them waterproof pants were essential, especially for snowboarding. I made sure the day was to have great weather, so they could get away with wearing a sweatshirt and snow pants. What I realized was that many people don’t even have snow pants, and unlike boots and boards, they cannot be rented, only bought, which is not worth it for one use.
I was inspired to find a way to make snow sports more accessible to students living in Tahoe. I would start with a few of my friends, teaching them personally and lending them my gear. However, I would like to set up a system that can help people beyond my reach.
In order to properly solve this problem, I need to get some facts instead of leaning on assumptions, so I put together a survey, asking the following questions:
19 People did the survey, which I put on social media, and passed around on my phone when I was around people. I put together some graphics to show my findings:
Like I hypothesized, the main reasons seemed to be the lack of gear, and not knowing how to. It turns out that there are other people like me who are willing to teach and have some extra gear.
One solution to consider is to have the SNC gear room rent out snow pants and other snow gear. Another option is a place where people donate gear, and people in need can borrow it for free. That way, the only cost to the student is the lift ticket, which can be as low as $15 at Boreal.
Me teaching one or two people may not make a big difference, but it gave me the idea of setting up a system for students to teach other students. From personal experience, I was happy to teach my friends for free because I had never taught before. It was something new and exciting, and I wasn’t going to charge them for something I didn’t even know if I could do well. What this system would take is finding a few students who love to ski or snowboard and are willing to teach. In addition, students will have access to used gear through the gear donations mentioned earlier.
In the end unfortunately, after four attempts with three people to find one day that would work for at least one person, I was not able to actually go out and teach someone before the season was out. However, this project has inspired me to do so next season. In addition, I will take all my old gear from home which I didn’t even bring with me this year. Doing so would get the ball rolling on a item where people can exchange gear and teach each other