Snow on Mt. Baker heralds return of winter ride program

Published on Wed, Nov 2, 2011
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Mt. Baker Ski Area’s Winter Ride program is gearing up for the season, and an informational meeting will be held next Wednesday for Blaine students and parents.

For the past 50 years, the Winter Ride program has provided students access to Mt. Baker Ski Area with its bus, lesson and rental program. Buses pick up kids and their chaperones from designated areas and drop them off at the Heather Meadows base area for a day of skiing. Participating students can opt for a bus ride only, ski or snowboard lessons and ski or snowboard rentals.

The Winter Ride program is for students grade six through 12. It is eight weeks long and includes six weeks of lessons from professional instructors. Bus passes are $100, lessons are half off at $75, the lift tickets are at preseason prices ($200 for ages 7-12, $283 for ages 13-15, and $495 for ages 16-18), and the rentals are discounted (skis: 6 weeks, $122 or 8 weeks, $162; snowboards: 6 weeks, $162 or 8 weeks, $216).

Area coordinator Julie Apeles said about 45 to 50 kids from the Blaine school district participate in the program every year.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for students, because it’s a sport they can develop and perform at their own pace and then enjoy it throughout their entire lives,” Apeles said. Apeles explains that for students who are less coordinated, they don’t feel the pressure of letting their team down. For those who are fast learners, they can take off and go without having to wait for others to catch up. “There is no winning or losing – learning to ski or board at any level makes one a winner regardless,” she said.

The program may sound expensive, but it’s a reasonable way to get kids outside to enjoy winter sports, and compared dollar to dollar it’s no more expensive than other high school sports.

“We used to have scholarships, but with the current economy we have not had any for the past three years,” Apeles said, indicating they would be happy to accept donations to be used toward scholarships.

Apeles, who has been involved in the program for six years, said the kids learn to manage all their own gear and time expectations, making them independent, self-sufficient and very responsible.

“I love our Winter Ride participants,” she said. “We have the most wonderful kids in the school district – they’re nice, responsible and respectful.”

The Winter Ride information meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 9, in the Blaine Middle School Library. For more information, contact Apeles at 360/332-0724 or check out BSD Winter Ride on Facebook.