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Thursday, October 29,2009

Savvy skiers know to look for ticket deals now

Window-bought lift tickets in Colorado are notoriously expensive — more than $90 at some mountains. While some smaller ski areas, including Ski Cooper, Monarch and Wolf Creek, have already announced ticket prices will remain the same this year, many larger resorts have yet to reveal their prices.

But there are ways to ski much more cheaply.

One local favorite is the Colorado GEMS Card, offered by Colorado Ski Country USA. For $10, skiers get a free lift ticket (with restrictions) to Echo Mountain, Monarch, Ski Cooper and SolVista, two-for-one tickets at five resorts and discounts at nine. Numerous restrictions and blackout dates apply, so visit www.coloradoski.com/Resorts/Gems/ GemsCard/ for details and to buy one.

Many resorts also offer four-day passes, usually in the $130 to $140 range, available at the same locations season passes are sold. They are usually available only in the fall, like season passes.

For those who wait until the last minute, there are other options. Pass-holders usually get a few half-priced lift tickets, so find a friend to ski with. Or, as a last resort, you can usually get lift tickets about $10 cheaper than at the ticket window at local grocery stores.

Another popular promotion, Ski Free Colorado, will be back this year. Skiers who buy 10 gallons of gas at a Shell gas station — not Phillips 66 as in past years — can get a two-for-one lift ticket coupon for Monarch, Copper Mountain, Powderhorn and Winter Park. Visit www. skifreedeals.com for more information.

For those with kids, Ski Country USA will again be offering the popular 5th Grade Passport, which provides three days of skiing at all member resorts — that doesn’t include Vail Resorts’ four mountains — for 5th-graders, for free. The 6th Grade Passport includes four days at each for $99. Apply for both passes at www. passport.coloradoski.com.

Vail Resorts offers its own version, the School of Shred pass for 5th- and 6thgraders, good for four free days at Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breckenridge and Arapahoe Basin. They’re available where Vail Resorts passes are sold during the fall.

Rudolph said many resorts offer bundle deals, including lessons, lodging, travel or gear rentals with lift tickets to encourage visitors.

So when, exactly, will the ski season start?

It’s already underway. Loveland and Arapahoe Basin both have limited terrain open, with Wolf Creek scheduled to open on Halloween.

Via McClatchy-Tribune News Service.
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