We're going to talk more about prices this season. And we're not the only ones to do so. It's no secret that skiing has become too expensive for a lot of people. Dollars to be spent on recreation are at a greater premium than ever.
You may want to try skiing, or keep doing it, or take it up again after a hiatus. But when you look at the cost of lifts, transportation, lodging, equipment and clothing, you might decide it's impossible - particuarly if you're talking ''family.''
Well, everything is not always as it appears on the face of things. There are ways to get away in the winter, to go to nearby hills or mountains, to ski downhill or cross country - and still not go broke. You just have to work at it. It would be great if there were one toll-free number from which all the money-saving ski and lodging packages would come pouring out. It's not that simple.
What you can do is determine concretely who you are as a skier, then find out which areas (lodges, condominiums, ski touring centers, etc.) are interested in your kind of skier. Are you a college student with any time off in January? Can you get away any time midweek? Will you sleep four in a room and can you arrange to take your children out of school for a few days (with homework assignments, of course)? Could you ski one night a week for several weeks at a nearby area?
If the answer to any of these questions is ''yes,'' there is probably a ski area with a very attractive package for you. During January, for example, college students can get a five-day pass at imposing Mad River Glen, Vt., for $ 44 - less than $9 a day. Many lodges have kids-sleep-free deals, and a few areas let children ski free during certain weeks. Breckinridge, Aspen, Purgatory, and Winter Park are among Colorado resorts that charge only $6 for a lift ticket up to age 12.
Plan to get away for at least a couple days to take advantage of lower rates. Inquire of ski areas that you might be interested in for information on rates and packages. Don't give up until you find a good deal. Then tell your friends.