View from the top of Alpine Meadows

When you’re a ski bum, you look for any opportunity to save a few bucks on equipment so you have more money to actually ski (or snowboard). A true skier doesn’t need this season’s trendiest matching outfit and equipment; last year’s gear will get you down the slopes just as fast, and you can save the extra dough for the ever-increasing price of gas and lift tickets.

The annual Ski Fest season is here, and well worth a look. They are generally a combination of last season’s new equipment and accessories at discount prices, consignment clothing and equipment, manufacturer exhibits and local resorts. Get a jump on the season at one of these upcoming events:

Best bet for locals:

21st Annual Sonoma County Winter Ski Fest, Swap & Sale
Saturday, Nov. 6th, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Line starts at 6 a.m.)
Sunday, Nov. 7th, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building, Santa Rosa
Admission: $4 adults (ages 16 and over)
First 500 paid admissions receive a free lift ticket to Sugarbowl resort. (Sun-Fri/non-holiday)

Whether you’re looking for inexpensive gear for the kids or getting a jump-start on your Christmas shopping, this is the place. It features a large selection of new and used items at bargain prices. Last year I scored a new pair of Obermeyer pants (with a suggested retail price of $220) for $50, and won a lift ticket to Sugarbowl while I was shopping. It was well worth the $4 admission price.
If you’re looking to sell some of your old gear at the event, contact Santa Rosa Ski & Sport. Pre-registration required.
For more info: www.santarosaskiandsports.com

For the die-hard skier and snowboarder:
If you’re willing to make a day trip, you can get into the spirit of the upcoming season at one of these snow festivals:

San Francisco Ski & Snowboard Festival

Saturday, Nov. 6th, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. (wine tasting 1-5 p.m.)
Sunday, Nov. 7th, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. (beer tasting 12-5 p.m.)
Fort Mason Center, San Francisco
General admission: $20
VIP tickets (21 or older): $40 – Includes wine tasting on Saturday & beer tasting on Sunday. Admission includes free lift tickets and 2-for-1 tickets with admission.
The annual Snowfest features a $1 million dollar winter gear sale at up to 70% off, Tahoe job fair, exhibitors from ski resorts, ski and snowboard manufacturers, hotels and travel info. Plus, meet pro athletes Jonny Moseley and Daron Rahlves.
For information and tickets: www.SFSkiFest.com

Ski Dazzle® Sacramento Ski Shows & Snowboard Expo™ 2010
Saturday November 20, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Sunday November 21, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cal Expo Fairgrounds – Halls A&B
Admission: $15 (12 and under free)
Admission includes a free SuperLift Ticket offer from your choice of seven Tahoe resorts.*
Sacramento’s largest ski and snowboard expo showcases over $1 million in name-brand gear at up to 70% off, ski lessons, Rail Jam contest, climbing wall and a tire chain installation contest.
* For more info: www.skidazzlesacramento.com