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For skiers, the 'ridiculous' can turn out to be sublime
Monday, March 11, 2013
Peer pressure gets a bad rap.
Sometimes a friend’s nudge can lead to something positive.
Consider the case of the Ridiculous Pass.
The offer came as an email, and was so good it seemed fishy.
The deal was this: Buy a season pass for skiing at Snowshoe Resort and it would be good through the end of this season, plus all of next season.
The price was the kicker: $199.
A single day ski pass at Snowshoe is $79, during the week. A season pass regularly costs nearly $600.
What was the catch?
No skiing on weekends? No skiing on holidays? No skiing on days that ended in “y”?
There was no catch, except that the deal was being offered for just one week in late February.
Coming back from a recent ski trip to Beech Mountain Resort in North Carolina, buddies Kyle Green, Sam Dean and I talked about the pass, which Snowshoe itself had dubbed The Ridiculous Pass.
We all had periods of ski bumness in our histories. Back in those days it wouldn’t have been up for discussion.
But with busy lives, would we really get our money’s worth? Sure, the pass pays for itself in three days of skiing. But there was there was this little issue of our having, among us, gone skiing exactly once in the past three years.
We agreed to think about it.
The nudge came from another friend.
During a recent run I mentioned the deal to Steve Burtis.
“Oh, I got it,” he said. “It’s a no-brainer.”
I sent Kyle a text.
“I’m getting the pass.”
He replied, “Me, too.”
We let Sam know. He tried to log on to the Snowshoe web site the final night the offer was valid. He couldn’t even log on.
That should tell you something.
He eventually got the deal done.
Offers like this aren’t a completely novel idea.
Theme parks often will offer a season’s pass for about twice the cost of a single day’s admission.
The reality is that plenty of folks who spring for the deal won’t come back even a second time. Those who do will spend additional money on concessions and the like at the park and, of course, lodging in the area.
So an offer like that makes some sense for a place like Snowshoe, which is in Pocahontas County, W.Va., which also is known as the Middle of Nowhere.
Most skiers who go to the resort and its sister, Silver Creek, stay at least a night.
How does a frugal ski bum make the budget numbers work when the lodging at Snowshoe is, shall we say, not ridiculously inexpensive?
Well, you can rent a condo and sneak in eight or 10 buddies and split the costs. After all, ski bums are used to sleeping on the floor.
However, this is not ethical and I would never, ahem, condone this type of behavior.
You can sleep in your van or SUV, which can be a bit uncomfortable when temps are dipping into single digits at night.
Or you can do the trip in a day, which requires about six hours of driving for those of us living in the Roanoke Valley.
Kyle, Sam and I opted for option three on Friday, hitting the road about 8 a.m.
Our first step was to get our passes.
But there were no passes. As in, the permanent tags with our pictures on them.
Snowshoe had run out. Imagine that.
The guy behind the counter said the resort had sold “more than 15,000.”
So we got old-fashioned lift tickets and were assured we’d be able to get our passes upon our next visit.
Snowshoe got about 2 feet of snow from recent storms, and the conditions were bordering on epic.
The resort recently announced plans to stay open through March, which is later than normal. The conditions play just a small part of that.
Usually, skier visits plummet in March when temperatures warm up in lower elevations.
There should be more demand this March, due at least in part to the Ridiculous Pass, which Kyle deemed at the end of our marathon ski session “The greatest deal in the history of the world.”
It’s probably a bit early to come to that conclusion.
But, unless the Ridiculous Pass leads to unbearable slope crowding, it seems to be a pretty sweet deal.
Another question is, what impact might this have on skier visits to other ski areas?
Will those resorts offer their own version of the Ridiculous Pass?
Or will they stick to the traditional model?
If there is one certainty it’s that this offer has created a bunch of buzz and excitement, both among serious skiers and those hoping to become more serious.
It’s hard to find anything wrong with that.
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