Senior: Skico broke free-skiing promise
The former coordinator of senior skiing activities in Pitkin County said Wednesday he believes the Aspen Skiing Co.’s top executive has violated a promise to let seniors cruise the slopes for free.
Aspen resident George Gleason said he met with Skico Chief Executive Officer Pat O’Donnell a few seasons ago and asked about the status of free skiing for seniors.
“He said, `We can’t change it. That’s just something we can’t change,’ ” said Gleason.
So it came as a surprise to Gleason when the Skico announced Monday that it was creating a new Silver Pass for skiers and riders ages 70 and older. That pass will cost $99.
Skiers in that age group got a season pass for a $39 processing fee last season or they could go to the ticket window and receive a free ticket for each outing.
O’Donnell said Wednesday that he didn’t recall meeting Gleason. “Maybe it happened, maybe it didn’t,” he said. “I just don’t recall.”
However, O’Donnell said he was certain that he made no promises about “never” charging seniors. You never say never in the business world, said O’Donnell.
“We don’t make promises like that,” he said.
When contacted again yesterday, Gleason insisted O’Donnell told him seniors would never be charged.
“I don’t want to make a big flap out of it, but he did say it,” said Gleason.
Gleason coordinated skiing activities for Pitkin County seniors for 11 years before handing over duties to Nancy Evseeff two seasons ago. Evseeff said she remembered Gleason recounting his conversation with O’Donnell for a group of seniors after it occurred a couple of years ago.
Gleason said he raised the topic of free skiing because there was a rumor the Skico would start charging seniors 70 and over.
O’Donnell said he may have denied that rumor for Gleason because the Skico staff has never considered implementing something like the Silver Pass until after this season.
O’Donnell said the company doesn’t have a written policy on free skiing for customers 70 and older. He doesn’t believe it’s ever been promised to anyone in writing.
He said he inherited the policy. His staff crunched numbers after this season and decided it’s time for a change due mainly to the increasing number of seniors on the slopes.
“It’s starting to be a significant number now – 5 percent of skier visits every day are comped,” he said. “That’s too much.”
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