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Ski, snowboard swaps slated at NMHS, SOU

November is a great month to get ready for ski season without spending a ton of dough — and you can help local students at the same time.

Two ski swaps are on tap in November where seasoned and aspiring ski bums and snowboarders can load up on new and used gear at cut-rate prices.

The Medford Ski & Snowboard Education Foundation will hold its annual swap this weekend, while the Southern Oregon University ski swap is on tap for the weekend of Nov. 21-22.

This weekend's swap at North Medford High School is the MSEF's major fundraiser for the year, an event that helps local high school skiers pay for myriad expenses of a very expensive sport.

"We use it to offset the costs for high school skiing and snowboarding," says Chris Hald, a veteran ski bum who was a member of Ashland High School's first ski team in 1967.

The money pays for coaches, three months of training lanes, transportation to statewide events and all the little expenses that pile up like snow on a mountain, including insurance, snow drills, shovels and breakaway gates.

"When you talk about a ski gate, it doesn't sound like much," says Hald, the MSEF's events coordinator, "but each one costs $45, and to run a slalom course you're talking 30 gates. And when it gets really cold out, and you hit a gate, they can crack."

High school ski team members will be working the swap meet, and attendees can utilize the students' expertise when trying on gear and deciding on the right equipment, Hald says.

Local retailers will be augmenting the used gear at both the MSEF and SOU swap meets, including Aedion, Extreme Board Shop, Rogue Ski Shop and Jack's Board Shop.

At the SOU swap, those retailers will be joined by Shasta Base Camp, Sportsman's Den and Fifth Season.

In addition, both Mount Shasta and Mount Ashland ski areas will be on hand selling passes.

Attendees can expect to find gear for all the snow sports, including alpine, cross-country and snowshoeing, says Erik Sol, coordinator of the SOU Outdoor Program.

The SOU event is in its 35th year, and that kind of longevity breeds a loyal clientele of people who look forward to the event every year, he says.

"There are deals all weekend, but there's a hard-core, early-riser faction that gets there early and stands in line to get the hottest deals," Sol says.

About 2,000 people attended last year's SOU swap, with the money going to fund outdoor and wilderness experiences for students in the outdoor program.

"We use the money to fund outdoor programs, equipment maintenance and to help students access wilderness areas," Sol says. "But the real goal is to create a sustainable community event."

Reach Mail Tribune features editor David Smigelski at 541-776-8784 or e-mail dsmigelski@mailtribune.com