Free Falling 

It's your lucky year if you're in fifth grade. The Fifth Grade Free Pass Program, created by the non-profit Inland NW Ski Association, offers free skiing and snowboarding to every single fifth-grader in Idaho.

Now that you've mastered the ins and outs of Idaho history in grade four, get to know just the outs of Idaho's terrain this year. The idea behind this most excellent program is that youngsters who are developing an interest in outdoor activities can try out the best winter activities the state has to offer risk free--only "risk free" in that it costs nothing monetarily. Risks to bones and ligaments are not covered.

Each mountain and resort offers a slightly different kind of discount. To get started, kids just have to download an application at, fill it out and send in the application with a photo and a $10 processing fee. The passport arrives in the mail in about two weeks. Kids can then take the passport to the different participating ski areas and get a free lift ticket up to three times at each mountain. Maybe being held back a few grades doesn't sound that bad after all.

Also in free ski news

Are you ready to rumble? If you're not sure, hit up the free ski and snowshoe workshops at Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy. Experts will offer the secrets of preparing your body for the upcoming winter sports season--and this preseason conditioning is good for everyone who wants to avoid day-after soreness, even lifelong skiers. Workshops are held regularly through December at one of the PT group's two branches (415 E. ParkCenter Blvd., Suite 114, and at 1520 W. State St.). Each session will include work on core stability, lower extremity agility, balance and overall endurance. There's a suggested $10 donation that would go to Recreation Unlimited, an adaptive ski school for disabled athletes. Call 443-9211 or 336-8433 for dates and times.

Big toys for big boys

Leave it to the Canadians to come up with the newest awesome export just in time for the holiday gift season. The Skybridge system is a building block set and architecture game for adults that uses specific building codes and strict color regulations for erecting towers, bridges and roofs. It's the fun of being a structural engineer all wrapped up in a game of strategy. Skybridge is even better than real life, because there are no zoning regulations or height restrictions with the game. The inventor is Family Games Inc., a multi-award-winning manufacturer and distributor of strategy games and puzzles.

--Jennifer Gelband

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