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Best time to buy ski gear

Not surprisingly, the best time to gear up to hit the slopes is long before you buy your lift ticket. Great deals can be found both at the end of the ski season (late spring) and before it begins. At the end of the season, stores are anxious to clear the way to make room for next year's merchandise. Most likely, they have already placed orders and have an idea of how much inventory they'll have on stock. Prices are slashed even further in the fall, when the new merchandise is about to arrive. At this point, you can find last year's models of skis, boots, jackets, pants and accessories at deep discounts, generally 40 to 90 percent off original retail price.

Denver's Sports Authority (formerly Gart Brothers) famously has hosted "sniagrab" over Labor Day weekend, which is B-A-R-G-A-I-N-S spelled backwards! Held at the "Sports Castle," in an old building with an interesting facade on 11th and Broadway near downtown Denver, Sniagrab has a festive atmosphere, with resort companies hawking season passes, usually some food vendors selling grub to keep your stomach full, and various vendors giving away prizes. In years past, people have even camped out and lined up outside to get priority on getting the best deals!

Not to be outdone, Colorado Ski and Golf holds their Ski Rex sale on Labor Day weekend, too. Advertisements indicate that gear will be up to 75% off last year's prices. Both Colorado Ski and Golf and Sports Authority have expanded their Labor Day bonanza sales to locations across the Front Range. Sniagrab is held at the Sports Authority stores at the SportsCastle, Park Meadows, Littleton, 28th Street in Boulder, on North Academy in Colorado Springs, and College Drive in Ft. Collins. Ski Rex is held at Colorado Ski and Golf locations in Arvada, Aurora, Colorado Springs, Littleton, and Park Meadows.

Of course, if you miss out on the Labor Day sales, you can still purchase ski gear and apparel during the rest of the calendar year, but you might have to search a little harder for bargains.