If this is the year you told yourself you were (finally) going to learn to downhill ski, snowboard or cross-country ski, the time is now! Ski schools in the Czech Republic are thriving, and many of them offer good deals if you´re willing to book in advance. English speaking instructors are usually available, and all offer kids´ courses, so the whole family can learn. Schools with Ski Packages are the best option: rent ski equipment, have lessons and get a lift ticket for one lump sum. And with many ski schools offering a 5-10 percent discount for booking online, plus a discount for booking in advance, you can get the most out of your ski week.
Unless you´re up for the package deal, renting a ski or snowboard set closer to home can be cheaper than renting at the mountain. (See the list of Prague ski rentals at the end of this article). Finally, remember the Czech ski season has more than one main season: Pay more for skiing over the Christmas and February holidays, but pay less during the month of January and after February 28th. Prices in this article are valid for the 2009-2010 ski season.
The Krkonoše, (www.giant-mountains.info) or Giant Mountains, in Northern Bohemia, are by far the most popular ski destination in the country. With many ski slopes, snowboard ramps and miles of cross-country ski trails, the Krkonoše appeal to sports lovers of all levels. The centrally located slopes of Špindlerův Mlýn, Svatý Petr, Horní Mísečky, Labská, Hromovka and Medvědín are connected by one ski pass, and Ski School Skol Max services the entire area. Skol Max (www.skolmax.cz, 499 433 291)
If you are truly a beginner, and don´t need the many kilometers of trails that a pass from Skol Max can provide, you might consider the ski centre Kněžický vrch. At the base of the central Krkonoše in Vrchlabí, Kněžický vrch offers cheaper prices at a smaller slope. That said, there are still 50 kilometers of cross country trails nearby, as well as a solid snowboard park. In Vrchlabí, Ski and Board School Lenka offers a 10% discount for booking online: Ski and Board School Lenka (www.skilenka.cz, 603 253 250)
The eastern part of the Giant Mountains culminates in the resorts of Černý Důl, Horní Malá Úpa, Janské Lázně, Pec pod Sněžkou and Svoboda nad Úpou. This is another hot spot for skiers of all abilities, and K+K Ski School based in both Janské Lázně and Pec pod Sněžkou, services the whole area. They offer an automatic 5% discount for booking online. K+K Ski School (www.janske-lazne.ski-school.cz, 499 775 010)
Ask separately for cross-country ski rental and lesson prices at the office.
Snowsport Ski School in Pec pod Sněžkou also offers a 5% booking online discount. While they don´t offer packages, they give an additional 5% discount for booking equipment rentals and lessons together. Telemark skiing is focused on here, with two winter Tele workshops, January 22-25th and April 2-5th. While Snowsport doesn´t rent x-country skis, they claim they can find them for you. Snowsport Ski (www.snowsportschool.cz, 739 309 272)
To the west, where the Krkonoše Mountains meet the Jizerské Mountains, there are more resorts to be had, specifically Harrachov, Rokytnice nad Jizerou, Paseky nad Jizerou, Rejdice and Příchovice. JPK Ski School is by far the largest school in the region, with offices in Harrachov, Rokytnice nad Jizerou, Klínovec, Boží Dar, Bublava and Dolní Marovice. They also rent skis in Prague. (see end of article for Prague rental details). Prices below are listed from the Harrachov location. JPK Ski School Harrachov (www.jpk.cz, 724 284 192)
Classic Ski School Harrachov is one of the few ski rental services claiming they won´t charge the customer for damaged equipment, and won´t ask you to purchase rental insurance. With a main office in Harrachov, Classic Ski School has meeting points and info centers spread across the base of the western range, from Nový Svět to Rýžoviště. Classic Ski School Harrachov (www.classicskischool.cz, 481 529 629)
In the Jizerské Mountains themselves, the weather conditions are noted for their above-average annual precipitation. Ski resorts Ještěd, Bedřichov and Severák are the most established, and since this is where the university town of Liberec is located; there are many options for traveling to the resorts of Jizera without a car. In Liberec, ski school Sport Ještěd offers group and family lessons, plus a 10% discount if you become a Sport Ještěd member. Sport Ještěd (www.skijested.cz, 486 100 070-2)
Based in Jablonec nad Nisou, approximately 15 kilometers from Liberec, Ski Bižu Sport runs from three ski centers - Bedřichov, Severák and Tanvaldský Špičák. Bedřichov and Severák are specifically catered to family skiing, and Bižu SPORT offers a 5% online discount, as well as family ski lessons. Ski Bižu Sport: Tanvaldský Špičák (732 751 119); Severák (605 907 935); Bedřichov (604 581 037)
In the north of Moravia, along the Polish border, the Jeseníky Mountains (www.jeseniky.net) rise as the second highest mountains in the Czech Republic. Especially known for its kilometers of cross-country skiing, the region is also home to many ski resorts that boast some of the best snow in the country. Profi Ski & Board School services many mountain ranges, including the Krkonoše, Jeseníky and the Beskydys. Their website promises that on request, a special package of lessons and rental equipment can be designed to suit individual needs for a discounted price. Profi Ski & Board (www.profiski.cz, 584 414 051)
Also in the Jeseníky, Červenohorské Saddle is advertised as one of the best-known ski centers in Northern Moravia, with an altitude of 1013 m. Ski and Board School Loap gives lessons at this resort, as well as the resort of Klepáčov. Ski and Board School Loap (www.loap-ski.cz, 608 141 948)
At the Czech Republic´s southwest border with Germany and Austria is Šumava National Park and Reserve (www.info-sumava.cz). Šumava remains the most well-preserved wilderness in the Czech Republic, covered by pine forests and peat bogs. Ski slopes here are less steep than what you´d find in the Giant Mountains, but skiers of all levels will still have plenty to do. The gentle Šumava slopes of Lipno Ski Resort and School are best suited to beginners and families. Lipno also grooms 50 kilometers of cross-country ski trails. During the low season, they offer ski packages with a 5% discount, and rentals with a 10% discount. Lipno Ski School (www.lipnoservis.cz, 380 736 053)
On the other hand, Špičák Resort and Ski School has slopes for all abilities, from gentle practice meadows to downhill chutes for the brave of heart. This is the best choice for more advanced skiers on the Czech side of the Šumava range. Špičák Ski School (http://www.spicak.cz/, 376 397 167)
Rounding out the ski destination short list are the Beskydy Mountains (www.beskydy.cz) in Moravia, along the Polish and Slovakian border. A heavily wooded region with many streams, the Beskydy are quieter than some of the other more popular skiing destinations. Sun Ski and Board School services several locations here, including the resorts of Bílá, Dolní Lomná, Kohutá, Malenovice, Pustevny and Mosty u Jablůnkova. Sun Ski and Board School (www.sunski.cz/, 608 455 794)
Ski and Snowboard Rental in Prague
While it might seem like extra work to lug your skis to the mountains with you, the rental prices in the city are slightly cheaper than what you would pay mountainside. There are hundreds of places to rent in Prague, and many shops offer a set weekend price in which you pay the same for 2-4 day rentals. You are always asked to leave a deposit of up 3,000 CZK before you head for the slopes. Below is a quick list to get you started.
ABC-SPORT (www.abc-sport.cz, 777 105 522)
Weekend Ski Rental VIP (Rent for 2-4 days for the same price)
Kids Ski Rental (2-4 days)
Adult/Kids Weekend Snowboard Rental (2-4 days)
Ski Centrum Petřiny (www.skipetriny.cz, 733 348 700)
Weekend Ski and Snowboard Rental (2 days)
Kids Weekend Ski and Snowboard Rental (2 days)
JPK Praha (775 215 135)
Adult Ski Rental
1 day 190 CZK
Kids Ski Rental
1 day 160 CZK
Adult/Kids Snowboard Rental
SnowManie (www.snowmanie.cz, 261 264 262)
Adult Weekend ski rental (Rent for 2-4 days for the same price)
Kid weekend ski rental (2-4 days)
Adult Weekend Snowboard Rental (2-4 days)
Kid Weekend Snowboard Rental (2-4 days)
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