Mount Como, the steep hill in Como Park where snowboarding and ski lessons take place every winter, is as white as a snow-capped Alpine mountain. A shortage of snow and the mild winter temperatures have resulted in a distinctly different appearance for the local snow sport season. “The problem is – people see brown in their backyards and think that it’s the same on the hill. It’s not true,” says Paul Nakanishi, director of Como’s ski and snowboard program.
With lessons set to begin on Saturday, January 7, Nakanishi wants people to know that Mount Como’s snow guns have been making snow during the cold snaps and the hill is ready to go. “We’ve got a fourteen inch base and this is great skiing weather for January.” Saturday’s forecast for 32 degrees will be a pleasant change from January’s usual harsh cold. He emphasized that lessons will begin on time this season and whatever the long term forecast is, there is enough snow to continue the program through the winter.
The St. Paul Parks and Recreation program offers one-hour lessons on Saturdays, between 9 and 5 and also Tuesday and Wednesday evenings between 6 and 8 p.m. The cost for a package of five lessons, which includes a lift ticket, is $90. Equipment rental for five weeks is also low cost, ranging from $45 for skis and boots to $75 for snowboard and boots. It is the most affordable and accessible downhill program in the Twin Cities area and the only one within city limits. More information about the program is available at a newly launched website by Mount Como boosters: mountcomo.com
The ski and snowboard staff has been training since October and has added concussion awareness to the curriculum this year. Instructors will also be modeling head-protecting helmets for the slopes thanks to donations from The House, (the-house.com.) a sporting goods business in Little Canada.
In addition to group lessons, private lessons for individuals are available and a good option for people who may not be able to commit to the schedule of five weekly lessons. The program also offers private lessons for groups. To register for a private individual or group lesson, call the Como Ski Chalet at (651) 488-9673.
The hill is open for recreational skiing and snow boarding on Sundays and, new this year, Friday evenings. The chalet, located at 1431 North Lexington Parkway, will open the season Friday, January 6. The chalet will be open and the rope tow will be running between 5 and 9 p.m. It is also a good opportunity to get “pre-fitted” for gear before lessons begin. The information is kept on file to make checking out equipment easier on lesson days.
Registration continues through January 12. By Internet and in-person. Lesson details are available on this city of St. Paul website page.
Cross Country ski lessons, also headquartered at the chalet, are postponed until January 16 because of lack of snow on the circuits that loop around the flatlands of the golf course. Contact the Como Ski Chalet at (651) 488-9673 for updates.
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