Doling out cash for that season pass

Despite the tough economy, students are actually buying more ski and snowboard passes this season, and local mountains are saying that students are unwilling to give up their beloved winter activities.Will Curchin, vice president of the Ski and Snowboard Club (SSC), said that the club comprises roughly 2,000 students.  “The Ski and Snowboard Club offers passes to Stowe, Sugarbush and the Triple Major, which includes Jay Peak, Bolton Valley and Mad River Glen,” Curchin said.Curchin said that although season pass prices are the same this year as last year, the number of Stowe passes sold has gone up from 581 to 871, a 66 percent increase.He also said that Triple Major remained the same at 500 passes sold and Sugarbush increased from 30 passes sold last year to 90 passes sold this year, a 33 percent increase.SSC adviser John Abbott said UVM students remain passionate about skiing and riding, have and continued to buy passes, even in tough economic times. “It’s so cost beneficial to have a pass,” Abbott said. “If you were to go out and buy a day pass at $80 and ski for five days, that’s $400 right there.”Jeff Wise, communications director at Stowe Mountain Resort, said he has not seen a decline in snow sports participation in recent years.”Skiing and snowboarding is a lifestyle choice,” Wise said. “I also think the increase incollege pass sales is due to heavy word-of-mouth marketing for ski resorts.”According to Wise, it is more cost efficient for a college student to purchase a season pass than a non-student adult. Wise said Stowe offered a full-time college student, the discounted price before Oct. 30 of $399 while the price increased to $450 after Oct. 30. A non-student adult price before Oct. 30 was $1,452 and is now $1,815.Sophomore Maggie Druschel said that she thinks students are more reluctant to buy passes this year and was surprised to hear that passes are still so popular.”I bought my pass to Smuggler’s Notch because I have a lot of friends who ski there,” Druschel said. “It is also less expensive and has the best snow besides Stowe.” Even though Druschel thinks the economy will affect UVM students’ decisions to buy passes this year, senior Greg Blinn feels that the majority of the students that come to Vermont are attracted to the accessibility of the mountains.”The ski prices have remained relatively the same throughout the years and, if you look at the price of the non-student adult passes, they’re over $1,800,” Blinn said. Although the sale of season passes has not been affected by the economic recession, Curchin said the SSC has seen drawbacks in their large trip sign-ups and sponsorship-by-industry companies.”We have trips to various mountains around New England and Canada, including Jackson Hole, Mount Tremblant, Sugarloaf and Mount Snow,” Curchin said. “The sign-ups for these trips have been cut in half.”Seventy-four people signed up for the Jackson Hole trip two years ago, but this year only 50 people are scheduled to go, Abbott said.Abbott also said the price of the trip costs $1,084 and includes airfare, lodging, transportation and a five-day lift ticket. The price of the trip increased by about $80 since last year.”The big trend I’ve seen is that people would rather take small local trips rather than larger trips because it’s more economically efficient to buy a ski pass than spend over a thousand dollars on a five-day trip,” Curchin said.Curchin said that the lack of sponsorship is due to the fact that many companies that sponsor the club have closed due to the economy and are reluctant to give the Ski and Snowboard Club free goods.