Ski pass deadline nears

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Powderhounds have a little more than two weeks to lock in the best prices on season passes and value passes for the coming 2004-05 ski and snowboard season at the Steamboat Ski Area.

Early season prices are in effect through Aug. 16. An unrestricted season pass is $899 through that date but goes up to $1,250 on Aug. 17 and bumps up again to $1,600 after Nov. 22.

The early season price for a full season pass is $14 more than it was last year. Ski area spokesman Mike Lane pointed out the price is $49 more than it was a decade ago in the 1994-95 season. A teen season pass goes up $10 to $485 this season (through Aug. 16).

Again this year, parents who purchase an unrestricted season pass may add on a child at no additional charge.

For each parent or legal guardian purchasing an adult season pass, one child 12 or younger, in the same family is entitled to a free season pass. Each additional child ages 6 to 12 in the same family may purchase a season pass for $205 (half price) per child ($35 for ages 5 and younger). The ski corp. also will offer discounts to teens whose parents purchase season passes. Lane said more than 1,000 youngsters skied and rode on the family pass program last winter.

The ski area has restructured its value pass program this year, dropping the price at several price points but also trimming the number of early and late season ski days that come with the pass.

"It's a more flexible product as people think about their skiing habits this August," ski corp. marketing executive Andy Wirth said of the new "Super Value Pass."

The changes mean that instead of last winter's 20 and 10 value pass, for example, purchasers will be offered a 20-day value pass that does not include an additional 10 days to be used in the value season Nov. 25 to Dec 19, and again April 3 to 10. Instead, they will see an $80 price reduction from last year's 20 and 10, for a 20-day value pass that includes five half-days of skiing on Friday afternoons in value season, plus the option of purchasing additional days in value season for $19 at the ticket window.

The 20-day pass will cost $639 (through Aug. 16) this year.

Early season powder days have become the rule the past four seasons, and Wirth thinks the restructured value passes give skiers and riders a choice of how they use their passes.

"If we get 3 feet of snow on Dec. 9 in early season, the customer has a choice of using one of their 20 days or walking up to the window and paying $19 to ski that day," Wirth said. He thinks the new policy accommodates two sets of philosophies. One set of customers comprises the value pass purchasers who expect they will need to ski almost every available day in their personal schedule to use up their allotted number of days. The second comprises those who want to stretch their value pass to include more skiing, albeit at $19 per additional value season day.

Ski season is scheduled to begin Nov. 24. Full details on the various ski pass programs are available at www.steamboat.com. Pass purchase may be made in person, by mail, fax or via the Internet.

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