In an effort to bring more young skiers and riders to the mountains and keep them coming back Colorado Ski Country USA has expanded on the popular Fifth Grade Passport program that was first offered in 1996 with a new Graduate Pass for sixth graders in the state.
Under the original program, all the fifth graders in the state that applied for the program could obtain three free lift tickets for each of Colorados 23 resorts. They also received discounts on gear, rentals, lessons, food, and tickets for parents.
The plan was adopted in Canada a year later with the Grade 5 SnowPass. Last year 25,269 Grade 5 students participated in the program in Canada, up 21 per cent from the year before.
Colorado Ski Country has started the Graduate Pass program for Grade 6 students to further retain the interest of the Grade 5 students who took part in the Fifth Grade Passport program. To qualify, you have to have participated in the Grade 5 program.
The cost for the 2002-03 season is $49, and it includes three days at any of the 23 participating resorts in Colorado. Thats a total of 69 days of riding for less than $1.50 a visit.
The pass also includes special offers from member resorts and retail outlets for discounts on equipment, lessons and other activities.
"The Graduate Pass is another way for our industry to reach out to the youth in our state in order to continue their involvement and to keep them excited about our sports," said Rob Perlman, the president and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA.
"Research shows that the farther away the kids get from fifth grade the less they participate, so these two programs are one way we can help facilitate their experience."
The ski industry has actively been pursuing young riders, as demographic studies of skiers show that the average age on the slopes is getting older. In addition, the number of skier visits at resorts across North America has been roughly the same for the past decade, despite the fact that the population has grown. Per capita, participation in skiing and snowboarding is actually decreasing.
There is no word yet on whether the Canadian resorts are planning to follow suit with sixth grade passes of their own.