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Enjoy Michigan Winter

Fourth and Fifth Graders ski free with the Cold is Cool Passport
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Governor Snyder Proclaims January as Discover Michigan Snow Sports Month
Read More 

Even if the ground is bare, with just a little cold weather, Michigan’s ski slopes can be blanketed in white.
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White Gold Card

The 2015/16 White Gold Card, which allows the purchaser to ski one time at each of our 35 great ski areas, is now on sale for just $249. The 2015/16 White Gold Cards are now officially sold out!  Thank you for your support.  Have fun on the slopes and trails! Learn more about the MSIA White Gold Card here. 

MSIA Cold is CoolFourth and Fifth Graders Ski Free in Michigan!

The Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA) wants to give Michigan kids an opportunity to get out, have fun and get healthy this winter. This is why MSIA has established a state-wide program that provides every 4th and 5th grader the opportunity to ski for free. Students can obtain a “Cold is Cool” Ski & Ride Passport that gives them up to three free lift tickets or trail passes at 30 participating ski areas, plus additional discounts on the slopes and in Michigan ski shops.  

Read more: Cold is Cool - 4th and 5th Graders Ski Free!

 Learn to ski affordably!  

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 Many ski areas across the state are offering Learn-to-ski or snowboard specials during January and beyond.  Learn for as little as $20!


Read more: Discover Michigan Skiing

Mitts Poster

“Mitts 4 MI Kids” helps provide gloves and mittens to kids on Michigan ski slopes and trails

It has been a longtime problem at Michigan ski areas.  Children come out to learn to ski on a school field trip and are ill prepared for the winter weather. Often they don’t have proper gloves or mittens to protect their hands and keep them warm enough to hold ski poles or use the rope tows or other lifts. 

Read more: Mitts 4 MI Kids

It's easy and affordable to take a school field trip to a ski area close to your home!  Under our Cold is Cool banner, MSIA offers a program called School Ski Days, where participating ski areas provide rental equipment, lessons and lift tickets as inexpensively as possible.  The objective is to introduce children to skiing and snowboarding and to get them outside, enjoying Michigan’s winter in a fun, safe environment.  The cost varies from ski area to ski area but will not exceed $35 per child. Some ski areas charge less.  To learn more, click here.

By Mickey MacWilliams Mickey in pink jacket

Designers of ski clothing never cease to amaze; they must come up with styles that look good and keep us comfortable no matter what Mother Nature throws our way. Often, the styles they create are at the forefront of fashion, with traditional clothing lines looking to the ski and snowboard industry for inspiration.  

That is certainly the case this year, with ski and snowboard fashions taking the lead once again. The new designs and trends on the slopes this winter just may end up on the runway next year. So, what will we see in the chairlift line? 

From the Slopes to the Streets

“The trending colors for women’s ski and snowboard clothing this year are variations of purples and deep reds, with turquoise and some mint being at the top of the list for hot hits and all over colors,” says Jess Kopitz, public relations coordinator for Summit Sports. “Light texture on fabrics is also giving added style with a hint of subtlety, such as the rip stop and herringbone look.”

Attention to detail is important. Metalux (silver-coated) zippers are popping up on women’s jackets and pants, and leopard is the animal print of choice this winter. 

Susie Whalen from The Stable in Saginaw says that the fabrics used in ski and snowboard clothing is becoming suppler so that it drapes better and is more comfortable to wear.

“Often people want a jacket that can cross from the slopes to the street. The softer fabrics make that possible,” Whalen says.

Whalen calls these “lifestyle pieces” because they are so versatile. 

“Kuhl and Spyder both have great-looking lines that cross easily to street wear, and they are so well-made and stylish that people can include them in their wardrobe for many years,” she adds. kuhl ws 2069 spyfirehoodedparka astral front copy style page

The Rise of Athleisure

Kopitz says that “athleisure” clothing is one of the biggest trends they are seeing in the fashion world. This is when athletic wear is used as leisurewear. A good example is the popularity of women wearing their yoga pants to the grocery store or mall. 

“This translates over to the ski and snowboard world with stylish base layers that can be worn on their own or with insulated mini skirts over them,” she adds. “These insulated skirts are perfect for throwing over your base layer leggings for a night out, so all you have to do is take off your ski pants and hit the bar.” 

Looks like we’ll be seeing a lot of leggings and mini skirts après ski.

Another trend that Whalen notes is tighter-fitting snowboard pants for women.

“This is a sleeker look, made possible by using soft-shell material,” says Whalen, who also notes that prints on pants with solid jackets are making their way into shops this winter.

Let’s Hear it for the Boys

According to Kopitz, the hot colors for men for this season are mainly deep earth tones, such as olive greens, brick reds, navy blues and dark grays.

“Variations of yellow for hit and pop colors are also big, ranging from bright yellow to lots of mustard and deeper tones,” she adds. “Solid colors and color-blocking…dominate in men’s ski and snowboard fashion, with very few prints emerging, although there are still some.”

Ski Style

When it comes to skis, the trend this year is to lighten things up. Over the past few years, ski manufacturers have refined the side cut and profiles of skis so that there is a ski designed for just about every body and ability. Now, manufacturers are looking to new high-tech materials to lighten skis without reducing performance. 

“In skis like the Head Natural Instinct or Absolut Joy, graphine (an ultra-light metal substitute) reduces swing weight, making skis incredibly easy for beginners to slide around and eventually learn to carve,” says Thom Phillips, ski buyer for Summit Sports. 

For the intermediate skier, Rossignol has come up with a honeycomb composite, which allows the skis to enter a turn quicker and with precision. On the highest end, Phillips says that Atomic launched Carbon Tank Mesh in skis like the men’s and women’s Vantage 90CTI, which provides the power and energy advanced to expert level skiers demand with a 10 to 15 percent weight reduction.

While many ski manufacturers are becoming more sophisticated in their production methods, Patrick Kennedy, associate hardgoods buyer for Boyne Country Sports, says a company called Skilogik is taking the retro approach.  Curvacous skis

“Skilogik is located in Breckenridge, Colorado, and they are producing all-wood skis that are literally skiable works of art,” Kennedy says.

Check out the Ullr’s Chariot and the Curvaceous models at the Boyne Country Sports store in Bloomfield Hills.

Speaking of retro designs for the snow, Snurfers are back! Scott Schuette, divisional merchandise manager for MC Sports, says that the once-popular bindingless boards that have a rope attached to the tip are making a comeback. In addition to the original Snurfer snow surfer, Schuette says that Burton has introduced a model called Throwback.

Shop Local, Buy Local

Another trend that Schuette sees is “made in Michigan.” 

“Made local is an exciting trend in equipment with a number of upstart, boutique ski and board manufacturers in the mix. Marhar snowboards are made in Grand Rapids [and] Shaggy's Copper Country Skis in Boyne City,” Schuette says.

These Boots Are Made for Walking

Where boots are concerned, the trend that I’m most happy about is more attention to warmth. Well-known materials such as Primaloft and Thinsulate are finding their way into more and more ski boot liners, and it’s about time.

Kennedy says custom-fitted boots are also becoming more and more popular, as the processes have improved.

“Atomic and Solomon both have boots that can be custom fit in 25 minutes to a half hour. The shell expands and, along with a custom footbed, the customer gets a boot that is designed specifically for their foot and leg,” Kennedy says. 

Kennedy also notes that a new ski boot called Apex takes its inspiration from snowboard boots and adds an exoskeleton for support.Apex Boot Silver1 

“When you get off the slopes, all you have to do is remove the exoskeleton and you have a comfortable walking boot,” he adds.

Surf’s Up

Shape is the newest trend in snowboards. Jenna Pate, snowboard buyer for Summit Sports, sees a number of different shape trends; the first is surf-inspired. 

“The idea is simply to give riders more of a “surfy” feel similar to that of riding a wave, while also maintaining edge hold and control when Mother Nature isn’t quite as generous,” she says. 

Asymmetrical shape is another trend.

“It takes more effort to apply pressure to your heels than it does your toes, so why not build your board to accommodate this?” Jenna says. “A board like the Ride Helix, which has a tighter turn radius on the heel side edge and a longer turn radius on your toe side edge, makes turning feel more fluid because you don’t have to apply as much pressure on your heel side edge.”

For kids, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that most retail shops offer programs where both ski and snowboard equipment can be swapped out as the child grows. These programs make equipment buying much more affordable while insuring that your child is comfortable, bindings are adjusted properly and the equipment is sized correctly as they grow. 

When it comes to accessories, heated mittens and touch-screen gloves will be popular holiday gifts this year, as technology creates a better way to stay warm and still use your smartphone. Schuette says that the GoPro cameras continue to be hot with skiers and riders, too, and will be on many holiday wish lists. 

Improvements in goggles mean that you’ll most likely only need one pair. Lenses are easy to change out in brands like the I/O series from Smith, Airbrake from Oakley, M2 from Anon, Contact from Giro, EG3 and EG3.5 from Electric and the Doom and Bravo from Spy.

Rob Gill from Skis.com says that Nike is going one step further.

“Nike is using transition lenses in their goggles so one lens will cover your needs in every light condition,” Gill says.

Safety and Innovation

Safety is also “in” this winter. Helmets are all about MIPS, which stands for Multidirectional Impact Protection System. A low-friction layer between the shell and the liner allows the helmet to slide relative to the head when it is subjected to an angled impact.

“This technology can provide even more protection for the user in certain impacts,” Gill says.

It is available from many manufacturers, including the POC Fornix Backcountry MIPS, the Giro Nine MIPS, the Smith Vantage MIPS and the Pret Effect X. 

For cross-country skiers, innovations are going uphill. Bob Frye from Cross Country Ski Headquarters in Roscommon says that “skin” technology borrowed from backcountry skis, has been applied to waxless skis, making them more efficient at climbing hills without any drag.

“With the skin technology, climbing is easy and it doesn’t slow you down when you want to glide,” Frye says.

Frye’s wife, Lynne, says that hybrid jackets and pants keep cross-country skiers comfortable regardless of the weather. 

“North Face, Solomon and other manufacturers are making partially insulated jackets that keep your base warm, with stretch panels under arms for breathability and wicking,” she explains.

The same is true with bottoms; windproof material is being used in the front, with stretchable fabric in the back for comfort, ease of movement and warmth.

Looking good while staying safe, warm and comfortable…sounds like my kind of winter!

Mickey MacWilliams is the executive director of the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association, which represents the ski and snowboard industry in our state. She is an avid downhill and cross-country skier – and a very timid but enthusiastic snowboarder. You can reach her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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MSIA & The President's Challenge

 Presidential Active Lifestyle AwardMSIA's winter programs have been approved for The President's Challenge which is a program encouraging regular activity among children and adults.

Lids on Kids

Lids on Kids Ski Helmets

Lids on Kids provides information on helmet safety and answers questions about helmet use.

MSIA Tweets

SkiSnowboardMi White Gold Card, Still a few #WhiteGoldCards for sale ,$249 for 35 Michigan ski areas - https://t.co/jOgoTiJwqZ https://t.co/LAVSIqZ8pj
SkiSnowboardMi #WhiteGoldCards are going fast! We will sell online tomorrow, at 10:00 a.m. Ski all of #puremichigan for just $249! http://t.co/k4AQMVg7i5
SkiSnowboardMi This President’s Weekend flex your freedom to travel. http://t.co/Iz95Sc1mm7 http://t.co/Iz95Sc1mm7


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MI Ski Hall of Fame

Read all about it!

In these special Ski Tabloids!

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Michigan has a long ski history!  Here is a link to a Michigan Tourist Council map of ski areas from (we're guessing) the 1960s.  

Planning a winter trip but need a little help?  
The Pure Michigan website has information that can get you packing!

Downhill Skiing Destinations
Cross-Country Ski Destinations

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