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Nominal increase’ for early bird unlimited two-mountain pass

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Seventy-eight days and counting.

And it’s snowing up top – just look at Wedge.

And it was -1 in the alpine on Wednesday morning.

And the prices for the 2002/03 season passes have just been released.

Without a doubt, it’s getting closer and early birds can now buy their season pass as their first step towards the coming season.

The unlimited two mountain pass at Whistler-Blackcomb is $1,289 plus GST this year. That’s up $20 from last season and $50 from the 2000/01 season.

"Its a very, very nominal increase over two years," said Stuart Rempel, vice president of marketing and sales for Whistler-Blackcomb.

"It represents a four per cent increase over two years. Not much. That’s not even the cost of living increase for inflation."

By comparison, the full four-mountain early bird season pass price in Aspen will remain the same as last year at $999 US.

But the Aspen Skiing Co. has raised the prices on 31 of the 41 different types of passes for the coming season. Most of the price increases range from $20 to $40 (US).

The Aspen Times also reported the unrestricted early bird pass prices for other US resorts.

Jackson Hole comes in at $1,495, Telluride at $945 and Snowbird at $899 – all prices in US dollars.

Rempel said they look at the US prices but added that they’re not really relevant to a regional or local skier.

"When you compare apples to apples, an unlimited season pass full year (then) we’re extremely competitive with any of the major US counterparts that have a resort offering that’s even close to ours."

Passholders get unlimited skiing from the end of November until early June as well as free access to sightseeing on the mountain in the summer and a discounted access to the bike park in the summer.

Rempel said there are also a number of passholder perks and benefits.

"We think it’s one of the best season pass values in the nation considering 7,000 acres, 33 lifts and the length of our season and the facilities that we provide. It’s a great deal."

The deadline for the early bird pass is on Oct. 14, Thanksgiving Monday. That weekend is also Whistler-Blackcomb’s annual Turkey Sale from Oct. 11 to 14.

"We’re tying in the purchase process of the early bird price to the Turkey Sale," said Rempel.

After that the cost of the pass goes up roughly 20 per cent, when the price jumps to $1,594 plus GST.

That’s up $38 from last season and up $75 from the year before.

"The prices are not going up nearly as fast as a lot of other things," said Rempel.

As for the Spirit Pass, Rempel said the Whistler Chamber of Commerce will release the price details at the end of September. Those passes will go on sale on Oct. 15.

Other deals for different 2002/03 passes can be found at www.whistler-blackcomb.com.

Meanwhile everyone must bide their time until Nov. 23, Blackcomb’s first official day, followed by Nov. 28, Whistler’s first official day.

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