Janet Urquhart: My premiere as a Premier skier
August 2, 2002
I’m coming up on my seventh winter season in Aspen. Seems like it’s time I go for broke, or at least go broke, and purchase a full ski pass.
That’s right, the Big Kahuna, the Premier Pass, the I-can-go-skiing-as-often-as-I-want-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah pass. It’s the one several of my co-workers buy, the one that allows them to show up late for work with frost on their eyelashes and hat hair several times a week.
This will be a substantial change from the past couple of seasons, when I didn’t have a pass at all. One longtime Aspenite informed me last winter that I had entered the ranks of the true local when I gave up skiing. Now there’s a philosophy they probably don’t endorse at the Aspen Skiing Co.
Of course, if you work for the Skico, you get a free ski pass. I’m wondering how many of them would ski if they had to shell out $1,000 by the end of August for the early-bird special. OK, technically it’s $999, but who are they kidding? It’s a grand. I’ll bet the difference between $999 and $1,000 won’t buy a single item in the lunch line at the Sundeck.
Still, the difference between the price of a full pass and the escalating cost of a two-day-a-week pass is $280. It’s getting to the point where the savings aren’t really worth going for the cheaper option. Clearly, my first big tumble of the ski season was falling for the Skico pricing strategy.
And you know you’ve been living in Aspen too long when you scoff at $280 like it was pocket change.
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I had occasion to see some old friends in Buena Vista last weekend. They of course quizzed me about skiing here and what kind of deal a local resident gets on a ski pass. Needless to say, they were incredulous when I told them a season pass costs a grand. Then I endured the inevitable “Well-I-ski-at-Copper/Breck/Whatever-for-(enter paltry sum here)” tale.
It was not the first time I’d been cast as a bonehead for what I pay to go skiing. I had the same conversation with some Crested Butteans at Conundrum Hot Springs, of all places. Of course, when I’m sitting somewhere naked with strangers, having some tidbit with which to distract them can come in handy.
At that awkward moment when I get out of the hot spring, completely exposing myself in all my fleshiness, I just shout out: “I pay a thousand bucks for a ski pass” and everyone gasps at something other than my physique.
Now, I know I can boast about value – four mountains, uncrowded slopes, the unmatched terrain of Highland Bowl, yada, yada, yada. But I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that a dearth of skiers is no longer considered a good thing, and I’d have to be feeling seriously suicidal to venture into the vaunted Bowl.
In the past, I’ve purchased a one- or two-day ski pass. That was just enough skiing to get really frustrated with the sport, rather than really good.
For the past couple of years, I’ve coughed up the cash for a two-day pass in August, and then along about December, I’ve turned in the voucher for a full refund instead of a ski pass. The first time, I got a round-trip ticket to Europe with the money instead and had a couple of hundred bucks left over, which I thought was a much better deal than going out and freezing my butt a couple of times a week.
Last year’s impetus to cash out was – well, it’s difficult to talk about, even now.
I yanked my ski boots out of the closet and tried them on the night before I was going to collect my pass and hit the slopes, only to discover I couldn’t get them buckled over my calves. I’d like to think muscles rather than muffins were to blame, but I don’t.
This time, I’m aware of the boot problem well enough in advance to do something about it. (No, not buy new boots).
Either that or I’ll be a thousand bucks richer in December.
[Janet Urquhart has heard rumors about the return of El Nino. Her column appears on Fridays.]
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