Ski school at Aspen's Buttermilk Mountain

Ski school at Aspen’s Buttermilk Mountain

By Eileen Ogintz

Tribune Content Agency

Sometimes, that one selfie offers indisputable vacation bragging rights.

My nephew, Chris Yemma, took his dad up in the Imperial Express SuperChair at Breckenridge Resort in Colorado in whiteout conditions, just so he could take a selfie atop the highest chairlift in North America. He persuaded his dad to go along, but his father wasn’t a happy camper when they struggled to get down the mountain in a snowstorm.

Sure, it’s great when millennial kids lead their parents in new directions. But sometimes it’s a good idea to let the pros lead the way — especially with so many enticing deals during Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. While January is the designated month, some of the offers extend all season, as long as you’ve purchased the packages in January, for often as low as $49 for lift, lesson and rentals. That’s a real deal when you consider lift tickets alone can routinely go for twice that amount.

Whenever you are heading to the snow, the worst thing you can do is try to teach your significant other or kids to ski, offered veteran Breckenridge instructor Ben Pleimann. “Teaching your wife or kids is bound to lead to fighting,” he said, and who wants that on a family vacation!

Best Family Getaways to Light Your Winter

Pleimann, who has been here for more than 18 years, showed me some of this massive mountain (five huge peaks, 2,908 acres, four terrain parks, a 22-foot Superpipe, 11 bowls, some of the country’s best above-tree-line terrain and plenty of family-friendly runs. There’s something for all abilities, including those with special challenges at the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center.

Before you and the kids head to the slopes, the excitement of the upcoming Winter Olympics next month in South Korea building, check out our new Taking the Kids Winter Wow section to find out more about what resorts around the country have to offer families this winter season.

PENNSYLVANIA makes it easy for beginners by using the Pennsylvania Ski Association to promote 19 member resorts by highlighting their bargain rates — especially in the January Learn to Ski and Snowboard month. The state welcomes local and visiting 4th and 5th graders to ski free, with a free lesson, rentals and beginner lift ticket package for a minimal processing fee. Novices from toddlers to grandparents can learn to ski with the PSAA’s First-Time Ski or Snowboard Program, which gets you a beginner lesson, beginner lift ticket and all the rentals you need, at any resort, for just $59.

January is a great time to try a snow sport with more than 100 offers now posted at resorts in 23 states across the country. And after the holidays (with the exclusion of Martin Luther King weekend) you will typically find lodging-lift deals, too, including at Breckenridge. Breck Break, which runs January 16 through March 11, offers deals that can save you up to 30 percent on lodging.

Main Street, Breckenridge CO

Main Street, Breckenridge CO

Book a room from Jan. 1 to Jan. 31, 2018 at one of 86 participating hotels in the Salt Lake area (all relatively close to the resorts), and get two free Salt Lake Super Passes for Alta, Snowbird, Brighton and Solitude for each night you book at a Salt Lake-area hotel.

During January, post that selfie of your first day learning and you might win $250 gift vouchers for lift tickets and more.

Introduce a friend to snow sports and you are eligible to win prizes during January.

And don’t forget that many snowy states, including New York, Vermont, Colorado and Utah, offer special kids-free passports for those in certain grades. You don’t necessarily need to live in these states, but you must apply before your trip!

Look for packages like Ski Vermont’s Learn-to-Turn Programs. The Take 3 Beginner Package offers three days of lessons for $129, ski and snowboard rentals, a beginner lesson and a beginner lift ticket. You can opt to redeem at three different resorts, too.

Mt. Bachelor’s SKI OR RIDE IN 5 is a five-lesson program for those new to snow sports. For just $229 you get five days of lessons, ski or snowboard rentals and lift tickets. Kids (ages 6 and over) and adults are welcome. (Enroll by Jan. 31, and you have until March 23 to complete the program.) Need an extra incentive to finish sooner? Ski or Ride in 5 offers a free rest-of-the-season pass for kids and a 12-day pass for adults.

If your kids are fans of the Winter X Games, five of you can take full-day private lessons together for $420 (Jan. 13 to Feb. 2) at Buttermilk, one of Aspen Skiing Company’s four mountains, as the resort gets ready to host the 2018 Winter X Games Aspen.

Many Utah resorts have special deeply discounted learn to ski and snowboard packages, including what’s being billed as the “World’s largest Ski/Snowboard Lesson for Utah residents and first-time skiers and snowboarders on Jan. 27.

Especially for those new to snow sports, take time to enjoy your surroundings — those amazing mountain views! The clean air! The historic mountain towns!

What I especially love about Breck, as locals call it, is that it’s a real mountain town, founded in 1859 by a group of prospectors. There is plenty to do, if you don’t want to spend all your time on the slopes. There are more than 200 restaurants, bars, shops and, especially if you are traveling with grown kids, the expanded Breckenridge Distillery, which offers tours, tastings and a restaurant that endeavors to pair your artisanal cocktails (think Blinker with Breckenridge Bourbon, grapefruit juice with berry syrup) with eats … maybe truffle fritters?

There is also Nordic skiing, snowmobiling in the national forest, dog sledding and snowshoeing, historic tours and the Breckenridge Backstage Theatre with year-round productions. Come the last week in January, as I did one year, for the International Snow Sculpture Championships.

Still snowing? Time for another ride on the Alpine Coaster!