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Ski for Less, Ski for Free
MVSTA changes and plans

photoThe MVSTA office is at 309 Riverside Avenue in downtown Winthrop. Photo by Sheela McLean.

The Methow Valley Sport Trails Association this season is offering a new $199 weekday-only season ski pass as well as expanding opportunities for young people ages 17 and under to ski free.

“Winter started for us on September 1,” James DeSalvo, MVSTA executive director, told those gathered for Thursday’s Winthrop Chamber of Commerce meeting.

DeSalvo and Danica Ready, MVSTA program director, gave the merchants a rundown on what’s new this year for the nation’s largest groomed Nordic trail system.

Pre-season sales of trail passes at discounted prices will continue through Nov. 2, including the new weekday pass, which is being sold only in the MVSTA office and only through Nov. 2.

There are no price increases this year. Season passes good all seven days of the week are on sale for $275 or $325 after Nov. 2. Lifetime passes are $3,000. All passes have been redesigned.

photoMVSTA is planning to groom a new dog-friendly trail near the Winthrop town trailhead. Photo (of the Gunn Ranch trail) courtesy MVSTA.

MVSTA is the only trail system in the nation to let youth 17 and under ski free, Ready said. (Skiers 75 and older do as well.) New this year is complimentary entry for MVSTA sponsored races for those 17 and under, including the Dec. 28 Ski Rodeo in Mazama.

There will be three Backyard Ski Days this season (Dec. 13, Jan. 24 and March 14) when everyone can ski free. “We want everyone to try it once because we think they’ll come back,” Ready said.

Partnerships with locals businesses will mean more perks for visiting families on those three days—free ski camps, equipment rental and shuttle services for visiting kids.

DeSalvo told chamber members MVSTA is marketing to families. “We want to be labeled as a family friendly place” and build interest among future skiers, he said.

Fat-tire biking will continue on specified trails this year and will be expanded to include a trail at Sun Mountain, he added.

photoMVSTA Director James DeSalvo. Photo by Solveig Torvik

Mandatory season passes for dogs are on sale for $35. There is no charge for dogs on the multi-use trails such as Big Valley. DeSalvo said a new figure-eight loop to be groomed near the Winthrop Town Trailhead also will be a free, multi-use, dog-friendly trail.

In an effort to make skiing possible for more lower-income valley residents, Ready said MVSTA is partnering with Room One and local businesses to provide access to ski trails, clothing and equipment to Room One clients receiving “social service support.”

DeSalvo also said MVSTA has completed setting strategic priorities and creating a master plan that will soon be posted on the MVSTA website. As part of that plan, “We just moved to a 30-year budget. We are not season-to-season like we used to be.”

As for when the ski season will start, DeSalvo said, “as soon as we can. We’re hopeful every year that we can be open by Thanksgiving.”

He added that usually skiing on groomed MVSTA trails starts the second or third week of December.


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