Frugal freestyling

You don't have to be a mogul to hit the moguls, writes Rachael Oakes-Ash.

Snow holidays have never been a cheap option and in today's economic climate, even the Gucci loafer-wearing private-school crowd are looking for ways to save at the snow. The secret to skiing and snowboarding for less is time and age. Midweek is cheaper than weekends, students pay less and June and September are cheaper than the peak months of July and August.

At Thredbo (, if you only ski until 1pm, your lift pass is $86 instead of $99. Sleeping in is rewarded, too: if you ski after 11.30am, your lift pass is also $86; ski after 2pm and it's only $62.

The older you are, the better it gets at Falls Creek in Victoria ( Over 65? Then lift passes are half price; if you are over 70, you ski for free every day, with 50 per cent off any snow school lessons.

Australia's ski fields are filled with quirky discounts so it's important to peruse resort websites in detail. Falls Creek, for example, rewards the nursing community. If you're a nurse, bring three nursing friends and the fourth skis for free.

At Victoria's Mount Buller (, kids' passes are valid for students through to year 12, which means teenagers save $44 a day on lift tickets. Tertiary students get half-price lift passes on Tuesdays for $48 and 20 per cent off lift tickets, lessons and equipment rental the rest of the week.

At Charlotte Pass (, guests stay on the mountain in the Kosciuszko Chalet Hotel or nearby lodges. For the same price as a lift pass ($89) though, day trippers can get return over-snow transport from Perisher (, their lift pass and a full buffet lunch.

Similarly, the family friendly resort of Selwyn Snowfields ( offers peak-season skiing at a value price midweek from July 27 to August 30. Ski for three days midweek and save $60 on a three-day lift pass and $95 on a five-day pass.

Perisher in Kosciuszko National Park has the Perisher Card for $47, which gives cardholders a range of discounts. Weekend mountain passes, for example, are $86 instead of $102 and midweek passes are $82.


For $100, Thredbo's discount voucher booklet has more than 60 offers on accommodation, shops and restaurants.

When it comes to accommodation, if you are skiing in NSW and on a tight budget, staying in Jindabyne and commuting to the ski fields each day is an option.

There are some seriously cheap offers if you are prepared to share the love. The Snowy Mountains Backpackers ( has dormitory rooms sleeping six, eight or 10 in bunk beds for $42 in July and August. It's clean and functional and comes with a cafe serving discounted meals to guests, including all-day breakfast and Friday night sushi.

If you want style for less, just take more people. With the swanky ski-in, ski-out properties ( on Thredbo's Crackenback Ridge, it's all about timing. The rates during shoulder and value seasons are almost 50 per cent less than peak season.

A five-bedroom, four-bathroom chalet with open fire, private steam room and jacuzzi drops from $11,200 in peak season to $5880 for seven nights from September 6. With 10 people, or five couples, that works out at $84 a person a night. Do a big shop in Sydney or Goulburn on the way and save yourself mountain food prices, too.

No need to take food to Summit Ridge Alpine Lodge ( in Falls Creek. From September 4, prices are seriously discounted. Three nights in a double or twin-share suite plus three dinners and three breakfasts in their award-winning restaurant and a three-day lift pass with group lessons and equipment rental is $826 an adult and $601 a child (6-14 years). All you have to buy is lunch.

Think twice before you purchase though: hot chips and gravy at Cloud Nine cafe on the top of the Falls Express chairlift will set you back $12.50, compared with $4 for fries, tomato sauce and mayonnaise at tomdickandharry's bar at the base of the same lift. Altitude can be expensive.


Expect to share the chairlift this season with some impressive international snow sport talent as the world's best descend upon Australia and New Zealand for these events.

- Dew Hut Jam, August 1, Mount Buller Ten pro snowboarding teams take on the purpose-built Mount Dew Jam terrain for $15,000 in prizemoney.

- Parklife Invitational Rail Jam, August 7, Queenstown, New Zealand Snow is trucked into downtown Queenstown where competitors ski and ride a purpose-built staircase and rails for prizemoney.

- Rip Curl Freeride Pro, August 11-13, Thredbo Skiers and boarders work the mountain's natural terrain for a $20,000 prize pool.

- Burton New Zealand Snowboard Open, August 11-15, Cardrona Alpine Resort, New Zealand The world's best snowboarders take on the halfpipe and slopestyle in a spectator feast, with nightly DJs and parties.

- Volkl NZ Freeski Open, August 11-20, The Remarkables, Cardrona and Treble Cone International skiers compete for $35,000 in prizes.

- Dragon Big Air Competition, August 15, Falls Creek Skiers and snowboarders take on a massive ski jump built in the Village Bowl.

- The Winter Games in New Zealand, August 21-30 A precursor to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the event includes alpine and freestyle skiing, cross country, snowboarding, ice hockey and figure skating in Wanaka, Queenstown, Naseby and Dunedin.

- Stylewars, August 24-28, Falls Creek Board riders compete in the terrain park for $15,000 in prizes.

- The Boost Mobile Sno Sho, August 28-29, Perisher Part of the TTR World Snowboard Tour, this event features 23 international legends competing for a $30,000 pay-off.

- Export Gold Extreme, September 8-11, Mt Ruapehu, New Zealand Extreme skiers and snowboarders compete on the severe terrain of the Whakapapa Pinnacles for $50,000 in prizes.