Smaller, independent ski areas join forces in the shadow of Epic-v-Ikon season pass battle
The Denver Post
Independent ski resorts are laboring in the shadow of dueling giants to find their niche in an industry swiftly dividing into two distinct camps.
High-profile independent resorts like Jackson Hole, Crested Butte, Telluride, Alta and Snowbird have aligned with the brawling behemoths behind the Epic and Ikon season passes, which, at $899 each, offer access to more than 50 of North America’s 600-plus ski areas and host about a quarter of the continent’s skier visits.
Aaron Brill, whose frill-free Silverton Mountain ski area in southwest Colorado has not attracted partnership offers from either the Epic or Ikon, said the smaller, independent resorts unable to land a spot on the two dominant passes will suffer “devastating impacts.”
“Even for the small guys who manage to find their way onto a mega, big-box pass, they will experience problems with sustainability moving forward,” Brill said. “Small areas will have problems adapting to such large changes in the market. Areas that have run a certain way for decades don’t have a ton of options on how to pivot to adapt to lowering prices.”
Dozens of smaller resorts across the country are joining forces in a communal campaign to entice skiers away from the siren calls of the Epic and Ikon. Those independent hills are forging their own collectives, offering season passes priced well below their break-even point just to maintain relevancy in an industry where the volume of pass sales has become the new barometer for financial success.
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Colorado has been hit with a substantial spike in COVID-19 cases, with one in 41 residents believed to be contagious. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, warned during a virtual news conference that Colorado is not alone in seeing a spike in cases and pleaded with people not to travel or gather in large groups.