The march toward the century mark has been halted - at least for another ski season.
The nation’s most expensive lift tickets, which hovered just below $100 last year, have pretty much held steady for 2009-10. In New England, the trend is similar, with no resort daring to eclipse $90, and five of the top 10 most expensive mountains in the Northeast keeping price points at 2008-09 levels.
Colorado is once again home to the country’s seven most opulent adult, peak-period, single-day lift tickets: Vail and Beaver Creek are deadlocked at $97, with no price increase from last season (both are operated by Vail Resorts, Inc.). Aspen/Snowmass is next at $96, followed by Steamboat ($95), then Breckenridge, Keystone, and Telluride (all $92).
In New England, Vermont resorts have the top five priciest tickets: According to rates listed on their websites this week, Stowe remains the kingpin at $89, unchanged from last season. Killington holds steady at $82, but is now joined by Sugarbush (up from $75) and Stratton (up from $79). Okemo went up to $79 from $77.
Sunday River (up to $77 from $74), Sugarloaf (up to $75 from $72), Mount Snow (unchanged at $75), Bretton Woods (unchanged at $74), and Loon (unchanged at $73) round out the regional top 10.
Resort operators are not fond of “most expensive’’ price comparisons, and in fairness, improvements in snowmaking, grooming, and lift technology have vastly improved the experience compared to even a decade ago. Dynamic pricing and multiday discounts also sweeten the deal for the average skier.
New to the game
Novice skiers and boarders who got gear over the holidays will have plenty of opportunities to use it next week, when Learn A Snow Sport Month kicks off at participating resorts throughout New England. For mountain inclusion and online coupons, consult www.skimaine.com
, and www.skivermont.com
. In Massachusetts, Wachusett Mountain is listed as a participating site . . . College students with school ID can ski Black Mountain for $15 midweek and $25 weekends Jan. 4-15 . . . Pat’s Peak in central New Hampshire will launch a Saturday-only bus service from Boston starting Jan. 16. There will be three departure points running twice daily, serving both day and evening skiing. Details, pricing, and schedules available at www.patspeak.com
. . . Stratton will host its next full-moon snowshoe hike Saturday. The monthly treks depart from the golf course parking lot at 6 p.m., and the $15 advance registration fee includes a stop along the way for hot chocolate and a light snack. Rentals are available.
Hit the Trails
Winter Trails 2010, on Jan. 9, is a day to try cross-country skiing and snowshoeing largely for free at about 100 touring centers across the US and Canada. Participating areas are listed at www.wintertrails.org
. The closest to Boston is Weston Ski Track, which will offer free snowshoeing (no registration, limited demos) and free cross-country skiing lessons with preregistration and purchase of a trail pass. Other Bay State venues include Canterbury Farm Cross Country
Ski Center in Becket, Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center, Notchview Reservation in Windsor, and Stump Sprouts in Hawley . . . Among the areas planning New Year’s Eve celebrations tonight are Wachusett, Nashoba Valley, Jiminy Peak, Cranmore, Waterville Valley, King Pine, Granite Gorge, Pat’s Peak, Bolton Valley, Okemo, Stowe, Sugarloaf, Mt. Abram, and Saddleback . . . Shawnee Peak’s first online deal of 2010 is a $25 ticket to ski from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Bridgton, Maine, area Jan. 2.
Mount Snow’s superpipe opened Tuesday at Carinthia, measuring more than 400 feet long with 16-foot walls. The pipe will host the Winter Dew Tour-Toyota
Championships Feb. 4-7 . . . Saddleback opened a new yurt at the base of the Kennebago Quad with a deck offering lake and mountain views. The heated Kennebago Station offers light fare and beverages . . . Starting Monday, there are 2-for-1 lift tickets on non-holiday Mondays and Fridays at Waterville Valley. Be sure to spin the Wheel of Deals for a shot at $5 lift tickets. Beginning Jan. 7, every non-holiday Thursday is 2-for-1 cross-country passes at Waterville. US military, police, firefighters, and ambulance workers get half-price adult lift tickets (with ID) on Tuesdays and Thursdays in January at Okemo.
© Copyright 2009 Globe Newspaper Company.