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Skiing can be a slippery slope for your budget

Taking up skiing can be an expensive hobby—but saving is no Black Diamond trail.

The ski market is shifting toward consumers with a high net worth. In 2012, 54 percent of ski and snowboard visits came from households earning more than $100,000, according to the National Ski Areas Association. Five years ago, that demographic accounted for 48 percent of visits.

It's not all that surprising when you consider the potential costs of skiing or snowboarding. Retail sales for snow sports tallied $3.4 billion during the winter of 2012-13. Even if you're not in the market for new equipment, a one-day lift ticket costs an average $85.52, per the NSAA.

One of the easiest ways for avid skiers to cut costs this time of year is to buy lift tickets online at the resort's site, or on discounters such as There, one-day lift tickets for Crested Butte in Colorado can be as much as 60 percent off the regular $93.10 price at the window on the day of.

(Read more: Middle class getting priced out of ski trips)

But to make it work, you will need to plan ahead. Some resorts require a seven-day advance purchase for online discounts; at Liftopia, the discounts for a particular day last only so long as its inventory holds out.

—By CNBC's Kelli B. Grant. Follow her on Twitter @Kelligrant and on Google.


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