Early ski season pass sales jump

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— Officials of the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. say early season pass sales rose again this year, but not as rapidly as they did last summer.

The deadline for people purchasing season passes and value passes at the lowest available prices for the upcoming ski season passed on Aug. 15. The ticket office was a busy place on Wednesday, but Steamboat Vice President of Marketing Andy Wirth said he thinks the ski area's ability to serve its early-season customers has improved. The ski area began online sales as well as season pass sales through Steamboat Central Reservations this summer.

Last summer, early pass sales for the 2000-2001 ski season were up 15 percent over the previous summer's sales for ski season 1999-2000. Wirth said the sales were up again this year, but said he was not free to give a percentage amount. Wirth would say only that growth wasn't as dramatic as last year.

Adults who purchased season passes by Aug. 15 were able to purchase them for $865. Today, the price is $1,075 and will remain at that level through Dec. 1 when the price goes up to $1,205. Similarly, the early season price for a 20 and 10 value pass, entitling the owner to 30 days of skiing, was $645 through Aug. 15. The current price is $750 and it will go up again to $810 on Dec. 2.

Wirth said historically, the ski area sells 70 to 80 percent of its annual season passes before the early season cutoff. So, 20 to 30 percent of those sales probably remain to be made for this ski season.

Aug. 15 was also a key date for the joint efforts of the ski area and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association to recruit local businesses to contribute $850,000 toward this year's budget of $2.9 million for the ski season jet program. The ski corp. is supplying $1.55 million of that amount.

As an incentive to encourage businesses to make a contribution, the ski corp. offered a $225 reduction in the amount of the deposit needed to reserve season passes for winter employees.

The deposit is $425 per pass, but for those employers making an airline contribution based on a percentage of gross sales, the deposit was reduced to $200 through Aug. 15.

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