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Ray Grass: Strapped for cash, but want to ski? Here are some excellent tips to save for the slopes this winter

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 28 2013 12:05 p.m. MDT

Snow board instructor Oscar Marquina jumps while taking a run at Beaver Mountain Ski Resort in Logan Canyon Friday, March 22, 2013. The earlier patrons purchase equipment, the less expensive it will be.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Local skiers and snowboarders will be able to enjoy the 2013-14 winter season for a lot less money if they plan, shop and buy early. In some cases, they can save up to 45 percent of ticket-window lift prices.

This is especially true for families trying to beat the high cost of winter sports. There are big discounts for skiers and snowboarders of all ages, and in some cases even free passes.

This is the time to shop Labor Day sales for ski and snowboard gear and clothing. In many cases, prices are at least half what they were last season and sometimes less.

Skiers and snowboarders end up paying far less for passes when they buy early, and resorts get their money early and get people excited about the upcoming winter season while they are still golfing, gardening or gallivanting around the country on vacations.

This year, more than in past seasons, there are some real bargains, including partnerships with other resorts in Utah and in the Western United States, and even a couple of foreign resorts.

One of the unique and surprising programs is a partnership between four one-time competitors — Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley, Snowbird and Alta.

Buy a qualifying season pass at one and get free tickets to the other three.

It is, says Andy Miller, communications manager at Park City, “Another way for us to maximize the value to our season pass holders. … They can buy a season pass and ski and ride with us, but have the chance to try other world-class resorts.’’

Buy a qualifying pass at PCMR and add one of three customized options, such as night skiing or parking or fast-track access and receive three free passes at each of the participating resorts — Alta, Snowbird and Deer Valley. Eligible passes, he adds, are limited.

At Snowbird, reports Emily Moench, communications manager, buy one of the premier season passes and get the nine complementary passes. Similar programs are available at Alta and Deer Valley.

Susie English, director of communications at Ski Utah, said, “We’re excited about the new pass programs and the collaborations between resorts. What it means to Utahns is skiers and snowboarders will have more of an opportunity to explore resorts they may not have been able to experience in the past.’’

Some early pricing will close next week. In most cases, however, shoppers have time to plan, which simply means choosing their primary resort based on price and location, and then looking at other participating resorts and benefits.

Among the available partnerships is the Canyons’ Epic Local Pass for $529. Buyers get the season pass at the Canyons and skiing and/or snowboarding privileges at five of Colorado’s major resorts and with some restrictions at three Tahoe areas. A youth pass (5-12) is $269.

Buy a season pass at Snowbasin and get three days of free skiing at 11 other resorts in New Mexico, Arizona, Montana, Colorado, California, Oregon, Idaho and Washington, as well as other benefits. Price of a Snowbasin season pass for adults is $689 and for youths 7 to 12 it’s $189 if purchased before Sept. 2.

The locals-only programs at Deer Valley, notes Emily Summers, communications manager, can save buyers up to 45 percent on lift tickets. A book of 10 passes for adults is $680 and 10 for weekday skiing is $590. For kids 12 and under, the 10 coupon book is $410. Proof of Utah residency is required. The cutoff date is Oct. 31.

An adult pass at Alta, if purchased before Sept. 25, is $999, a student pass for those 7 to 12 is $159 and a child’s season pass for those 6 and under is $25. There is similar pricing at other age levels and for seniors.

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