More room for snowboarders on the slopes this yearThe ski season is upon us once again. Yongpyong Resort in Pyeongchang, Gangwon province, opened for the season last week, and other major ski resorts across the country are following suit this weekend and next week. Most resorts offer discounts or free coupons for lift tickets on the first day of the season, while some offer discounts of up to 60 percent on ski rental.
Snowboarding is expected to keep attracting more enthusiasts this season; it’s probably safe to say that about half the ski resorts in Korea have now been invaded by “boarders.” Many resorts are adding special runs; Hyundai Sungwoo Resort has taken the lead, creating the largest half-pipe in Korea and a “board walk,” a snowboarders-only route. Vivaldi Park in Yangpyeong has also installed a world standard half-pipe, while Yongpyong has created a “terrain park” exclusively for boarders and Muju has expanded its half-pipe. Phoenix Park, one of the original snowboarding havens, has added extra facilities to its “extreme park.”
Gangchon Resort in Chuncheon, also in Gangwon province, offers an unusual service this year: In addition to its usual free shuttle bus service from Seoul, it will offer free train rides on weekdays, leaving Cheongnyangri Station at 7 a.m. Monday to Friday and departing from Gangchon at 5:30 p.m. On Thursdays, the resort will rent an entire train for visitors. Reservations can be made at the Web site www.gangchonresort.co.kr.
Bears Town Resort in Pocheon, Gyeonggi province, holds a skiing contest every January, with the winner getting a car. Yongpyong has started advanced skiing lessons. Vivaldi Park will hold an ice festival, for which artists will create sculptures of famous monuments.
Both skiing and snowboarding are becoming more popular, which is one reason lift passes cost more each year. Yongpyong has raised its price 6 percent, to 53,000 won; others have risen by 5 percent. For the budget-conscious, night skiing, which costs less, might be an option.
Special discounts are also available. Alps Resort in Goseong, Gangwon province, for instance, offers 50 percent off lift prices if it’s your birthday. Visit companies’ Web sites for other deals.
by Sohn Min-ho