Some season ski passes still under $400 |

Some season ski passes still under $400

Robert Weller
Vail, CO Colorado

DENVER ” With the first dusting of snow already fallen, snow riders can get their best deals on Colorado lift tickets if they buy them within the next 10 days.

Even that could change. In the past, resorts have subsequently extended deadlines.

For those willing to shell out $999, Intrawest offers a pass to ski all season at Winter Park, Copper Mountain and Steamboat resorts. That’s a couple of hundred dollars less than a season pass cost for some of the state’s top resorts in the late 1990s.

Discount season passes were once scorned by some resort officials when they were first offered for about $250 because of fears they would besmirch the image of an elite sport. They now are credited with helping the state break skier numbers for the past two years.

Vail Resorts’ Summit Pass, good for Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin, will go for $379 for adults, $299 for teens and $189 for children. The Colorado Pass, good for the same resorts plus 10 days at Vail or Beaver Creek, go for $40 more.

The ski wars started in 1999 when Winter Park, the first major resort to offer deeply discounted passes, offered a season pass for $250. Many major Colorado resorts followed suit, and it spread to many other parts of the nation. It wasn’t uncommon for a Colorado skier to buy passes for more than one resort.

The idea was to get snow riders to buy the passes before the season, putting money in the bank for the resorts during their lean periods. Later, some resorts offered four-pack tickets for $75 for occasional skiers.

Although the fallout from 9/11 hit resorts hard, they came back strong, partly due to the building of dozens of new high-speed quads and the cheap tickets.

Keystone Resort and Arapahoe Basin are selling a ticket this year for four days for Keystone Resort or Arapahoe Basin for $129.

“If a season pass isn’t for you, then the 4-Pack is a steal at just $32.25 per day for skiing and riding at Keystone and Arapahoe Basin ” two of Summit County’s most accessible and on-the-move resorts this season,” said Chris Garnet, Vail Resorts’ senior vice president of marketing and sales.

“As with the Summit Pass, Colorado Pass and Colorado Pass PLUS, anyone interested in the 4-Pack should buy early to ensure they’re getting the absolute lowest prices of the season.”

A season pass is available for Winter Park and Copper for $489 for adults. For $389, snow riders can go to either Copper or Winter Park. And for $349, a pass is available for Winter Park-Mary Jane.

Smaller resorts have also joined the competition. Loveland’s 2007-2008 season passes are $319 for new ones and $287 for renewals. Ski Cooper will sell adult passes for $189 until Sept. 28.

Aspen, which once described itself as the Mercedes-Benz of resorts, wants $1,699 for a full season pass.

The National Weather Service winter forecast isn’t due out until Sept. 15, but earlier long-term forecasts call for it to be warmer and drier than normal in much of the West.

Although snowmaking makes it possible for resorts to open early, most wait at least until mid-October to avoid flooding the limited terrain with passholders.

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