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Skiing industry touts sport as affordable for those who use deals

The Associated Press

DENVER — In 2010, the price of a walk-up, single-day lift ticket at Vail and Beaver Creek ski resorts topped $100. Aspen quickly followed suit, and ticket prices at resorts across the country have consistently increased in the years since. The trend has raised a question that has dogged the ski industry for years: Is the sport becoming unaffordable for the middle class?

Industry leaders say that even though last-minute lift tickets at some resorts exceed $100, skiing has never been more affordable if you’re savvy about discounts.

But despite the availability of deals, a report commissioned in August by the National Ski Areas Association found that skiing in the United States has increasingly become a sport for the wealthy. The percentage of people who participate in snow sports with household incomes of more than $100,000 has risen over the past eight seasons from 45 percent of ski area visitors in the 2006-07 season to 56 percent of visitors in the 2013-14 season, according to the report.

Meanwhile, those with household incomes less than $50,000 dropped from 30 percent of ski area visitors to 19 percent in the same period. Visitors who make between $50,000 and $99,999 remained steady over the years at about 25 percent.

“Snow sports participants continue to skew significantly more affluent than the general U.S. population,” according to the report, which was based on surveys of skiers and snowboarders at 87 U.S. resorts. The resorts surveyed hosted 31.9 million of the nation’s 56.5 million skier and snowboarder visits last winter.

Michael Berry, president of the NSAA, said ski resorts are working to attract participants from all income brackets.

Evan Reece, co-founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Liftopia, an online marketplace for lift tickets, says buying early and booking multiple days goes a long way in lowering the price of getting on the mountain.


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