Buttermilk times lesson deal with X Games | AspenTimes.com

Buttermilk times lesson deal with X Games

Jon Maletz

A Buttermilk instructor and student ride the Panda Peak lift at Buttermilk as work crews build scaffolding for the Winter X Games. There are special ski lesson deals to be had at Buttermilk before, during and after the Games. (Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times)

Buttermilk has turned into something rather chaotic as Aspen prepares to host ESPN’s Winter X Games Ten. What better time to take a ski lesson?

The mountain’s ski and snowboard school has created a new promotion ” it began Jan. 9 and continues through Feb. 4 ” in an attempt to quell the misconception that the majority of the ski area is shut down during the construction and deconstruction phases for the X Games. It’s called the Buttermilk Deluxe lesson package.

The deal includes a six-hour private lesson by one of Buttermilk’s instructors for a group of one to five people, according to John Kneiper, new ski-snowboard school manager. It also includes one free lift ticket with rental equipment, and coupons good for 50 percent off one meal at either Bumps or the Cliff House, as well as one for any Mountain Photo product. The package, valued at $630, costs $250. The normal fee for a private lesson at any of the four local mountains is $515, Kneiper said.

“The community has somehow gotten the impression that Buttermilk as a ski area is closed because the X Games is so dominant. The rumor is out there,” Kneiper said. “I simply want to reverse the misconception and attract skiers and riders here.”

While the Winter X Games, Jan. 27-31, will command a lot of attention, it will affect only a small portion of the mountain. Close to 400 of Buttermilk’s 435 skiable acres will be open to skiers throughout January, Kneiper noted.

The mountain’s superpipe and main park ” closed to the public before and during the X Games, as well as during the cleanup afterward ” represent a large draw for local riders, who do choose to go elsewhere, said Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle.

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“All the kids that go there to the park will end up heading for Snowmass,” Hanle said. “That certainly affects the numbers [of skier visits at Buttermilk during January]. But there will still be a lot of opportunities for beginners and intermediates to play and have fun.”

Adding to the appeal of a lesson at Buttermilk is the mountain’s variety of terrain and the flexibility of its instructors, Kneiper said. Green, blue and black trails and terrain park features such as pipes, rails and boxes can challenge skiers of every level and age.

Instructors are able to accommodate skiers of all abilities during a single lesson, Kneiper said. Six hours offers enough flexibility to teach one level during the morning and another in the afternoon. A few of the mountain’s instructors are also crossovers, certified to teach alpine, snowboarding and even telemark skiing, so every member of the group will be included.

And for those skiers who are advanced, Kneiper pointed out that more challenging terrain is just five minutes away.

“I like to think Buttermilk’s double-diamond terrain is a five-minute shuttle ride away,” Kneiper said. “You can spend the morning with your pro, take advantage of the 50 percent off on food at one of Buttermilk’s restaurants, and hop the shuttle with your pro to [Aspen] Highlands.

“The skill one needs to be successful on a race course, the bumps on Bell [Mountain], or in the Highland Bowl is developed on terrain just like we have here.”

The idea for the package was first conceived at the end of last season and underwent extensive development over the summer, Kneiper said. The Skico also implemented a detailed and diverse marketing strategy.

There was an advertisement in a 2005-06 brochure for local schools. The Skico launched a direct e-mail campaign for its customers, and information is also accessible on its website by typing in “Buttermilk Deluxe” in the homepage search bar. Kneiper even made his television debut during a segment on Plum TV last month.

“I want to investigate avenues that allow us to promote on the Front Range and beyond, maybe even go to all four corners of the globe,” he said.

“This is an unbelievable investment for any skier to make,” Kneiper said. “I can’t imagine a reason why this wouldn’t be exciting.”

Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.com