Blame it on active lifestyle

Ski resort ups senior pass price

Seniors, there’s a downside to living longer: paying more to ski.

The increased number of people remaining healthy and active into their 60s and 70s prompted Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort to increase its season pass prices for that demographic.

“People are living longer, healthier lives and are more active later in life,” Oyler said. “We’ve analyzed historical data, and people in the age group 65 and older are using their passes more and more due to their healthy lifestyles.”

There is no longer a silver pass for ages 62 to 69 or a golden pass for those 70 and older.

Instead, there is now one senior pass, for those 65 and older, and it costs $399 if purchased by April 30.

The price is $509 through Sept. 15 and will be $609 starting Sept. 16 through the 2012-2013 season, ski area spokeswoman Kim Oyler said.

Previously, the silver pass was $349 at the early-bird pricing; the golden pass for ages 70 and older had cost only $149 at early-bird pricing.

Current silver pass holders ages 62 to 64 can be “grandfathered” into the senior pricing structure if they renew their season pass for the 2012-2013 season, Oyler said.

“They will receive the senior rate even if they aren’t over the age of 65 as long as they are a current silver pass holder for 2011-2012,” Oyler said.

The new pricing and pass structure will go into effect for the 2012-2013 ski season, Oyler said.

The adult season pass, valid for those ages 18 to 64, will be offered at $599 through April 30, for $819 between May 1 and Sept. 15 and $919 after Sept. 16.

Day passes sold at the window will be $75 for adults and $65 for seniors, Oyler said.

The prices are in line with what other Colorado ski areas are charging. An unlimited pass to Vail, Keystone, Breckenridge and Arapahoe Basin, known as the “Epic Pass,” can be purchased at the early-season price of $369 for seniors 65 and older.

At Wolf Creek, seniors 65 and older may take turns all season long for $246 if a season pass is purchased before Oct. 1.

Michael Berry, president of the National Ski Areas Association located in Lakewood, said: “From a national perspective, as we see the baby boomer generation begin to retire, we will see an increase in the number of people 65 and older who are skiing.”

“In fact, that demographic, who mostly ski, do so with the greatest frequency of any demographic,” Berry said.

Skiers ages 66 and older average between 10 and 11 days per year at ski resorts in Colorado.

The 56 to 65 demographic averages between eight and nine times a year, Berry said.

That compares with only five to six times a year average for all skiers 46 and younger, he said.

“It’s because younger age groups are limited to the times they can enjoy mountain recreation because of full-time jobs, children and school,” Berry said. “The older generation is steadfast in their activity – even those who have never tried, pick up skiing later in life because they have more time.”

Mountain grooming and new technology have allowed older skiers to enjoy the sport longer.

“We’re seeing people participate in the sport much later and longer then they did 25 years ago before the advent of shaped skis and good mountain grooming,” Berry said.

Despite the price increase, seniors who purchase and use season passes are getting a break from the regular prices, Oyler said.

“The senior pass is still the most economical way to go,” she said. “Pass holders will receive spring and summer benefits if they purchase before April 30.”

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