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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of October 2 - 8, 2002


Sun Valley sets 
new lift rates

Season passes to cost $1,795, 
day tickets $65

Sun Valley 2002-2003 lift rates (peak season)

Season Pass: $1,795 (discounted $100 prior to Oct. 20)
Alpine/Nordic pass: $1,950 (discounted $100 prior to Oct. 20)
Student season pass: $340
20/20 pass: $795 (discounted $100 prior to Oct. 20)
Dollar adult season pass: $150
Dollar child season pass: $75
Season discount card: $150 (not available after Dec. 22)
Weekend discount card: $55 (first), $25 (second in family), $15 (third in family)
One day discount: $45
Half day discount: $35
Student discount card: $10
Student day discount: $20
Student half day discount: $15
One peak season day: $65 (adult) $36 (child)
Half peak season day: $48 (adult) $29 (child)

Express Staff Writer

A dusting of snow in the mountains last weekend coincided fittingly with the release of Sun Valley’s 2002-2003 lift ticket rates, which are continuing to march to the beat of inflation.

This winter, season passes will cost $1,795, $45 more than last winter, and full-day, peak-season lift tickets will cost $65, $2 more than last year.

Last year’s new and more affordable alternative, the 20/20 pass, which offers 20 days of skiing during the winter peak season and 20 days during the early and late off-seasons, will cost $795, $100 more than last year, which is a 12.6 percent jump.

However, those who purchase season passes or 20/20 passes before Oct. 20 will receive $100 discounts.

Despite the big increase, the 20/20 is a remarkably good deal compared with Sun Valley’s other offerings. For someone skiing 40 days at $795, the per-day price is $19.88. That price drops to $17.38 per day if a 20/20 is purchased prior to Oct. 20.

With a full-priced season pass, a person must ski 100 days to bring the per-day cost down to $17.95.

But Sun Valley marketing and public relations manager Jack Sibbach pointed out that many season pass holders are actually paying for the flexibility a season pass offers.

"It’s just as much the convenience as it is the skier days for most people," he said. "One person skied last year every single day. Some season pass people go up there 20 or 30 days. Some people go up for an hour or two over lunchtime. I think a real selling point is the convenience."

But, for the sake of comparison, consider that a season pass in 1980 cost $650. A 60-day season would translate to $10.83 per day of skiing. This winter, a 60-day season will cost $29.92 per day.

But season pass inflation has been very consistent, averaging 4.8 percent per year over the last 26 seasons. During those 26 years, the inflation peaked at 11.5 percent in 1982 and bottomed out at zero percent for two seasons in a row in 1986 and 1987.

Full day lift ticket prices rose at an average of 6.7 percent during the same time, peaking at 20 percent in 1979, and bottoming out at zero percent in 2000.

Sibbach said all the number crunching and figure balancing is a process he is not privy to, but he added that one of the concerns this year is to maintain season pass numbers while selling more 20/20 passes.

Last year, about 1,100 people purchased 20/20 passes.

"It did seem to take away about 300 season pass holders," Sibbach said. "Season pass numbers had held steady in years prior. But, yea, we feel like it is still worth doing this program.

"We’re trying to balance it, so it doesn’t take away from another program and is still attractive for someone to buy."

Industry-wide, ski ticket prices generally match general cost-of-living inflation at about 3 percent annually, National Ski Areas Association communications director Stacy Stoutenberg said.

She pointed out some exceptions, however, where ski areas are offering relatively affordable pass options.

"The new trend of the last four or five years is this thing where you can get these buddy passes or pre-season passes for about $300," she said.

Boise’s Bogus Basin is an example. There, skiers can take advantage of a variety of ski packages, ranging from $199 to $299, and early season pass purchases cost $199.

Stoutenberg also pointed out that the NSAA has created a model with which to promote growth in an industry that has stagnated. One key component is to attract and retain young skiers and snowboarders.

Sun Valley’s rates mirror this movement. Blaine County students can obtain season passes for $340, and a special promotion good from Nov. 27 through Dec. 17, Jan. 4 through Jan. 31 and March 15 through the end of the season allows one child per parent under the age of 15 to stay and ski for free, so long as mom and dad are renting a room or condominium.

But, Stoutenberg said, the ski industry still faces a lot of obstacles.

"Unfortunately, the conversion rate of people who go from never-evers to continuing with the sport is about 15 percent," she said.



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