pass prices 

Lift ticket prices increase, new mid-week pass available Discounts aimed at skiers who avoid the weekends By Andy Stonehouse Having those ski season dreams yet? If you're anxious to hit the slopes this season, you'd best be saving up the loonies, as ticket and pass prices at Whistler/Blackcomb have gone up. The news is not all bad, however, as the mountains have made additional efforts to offer some new discount passes for the season, including a new mid-week combo pass aimed at locals who are smart enough to avoid weekend skiing and riding altogether. Whistler/Blackcomb's single day adult lift ticket price has now topped out at $57 (GST not included), a two dollar increase from last season which makes the mountain one of the most expensive in Canada. Prices will now be even higher during the Christmas holiday and the February and March busy season, with day tickets increasing to $59. The premium prices will be in effect from Dec. 26 to Jan. 3 and Feb. 13 to March 21. This season, a regular priced adult ski pass will set you back $1,419 plus GST, while Ambassador Passes are available for $1,039. The Early Bird discount, to the end of September, will knock the price of an adult season pass down to $1,159. With a variety of special discount programs available, mountain staff argue that no self-respecting local should ever have to shell out the full price for a day ticket, while early bird season ticket prices also represent a way of saving significant cash. In a release, David Perry, vice president of marketing for Whistler/Blackcomb, said the day ticket price still represents a bargain for American and overseas skiers, with the weak loonie making lift tickets much cheaper than those found in most American and European resorts. Compared to Aspen ($59 U.S., or about $89 Canadian) or Vail and Sun Valley ($54 U.S./$82 Canadian), Perry said the lift ticket is still very reasonably priced. For Canadian skiers, however, Whistler/Blackcomb's ticket is still the high-end benchmark, especially compared to the area's Rocky Mountain competitors. Alberta's Sunshine Village will be charging $46 per day this year, with a season pass starting at $698, while Lake Louise's single adult day pass will cost skiers $49 (or $559 for a full-price season's pass). Day lift ticket prices at Lake Louise's sister operations, all owned by Albertan businessperson Charlie Locke, range from $43 for Fernie, $38 at Kimberley, $36 at Nakiska and $29 at Fortress Mountain. A nine-area ski pass is also available for $749. Whistler skiers looking to hit the slopes for less may be interested in Whistler/Blackcomb's mid-week combo pass, priced at $799 until Sept. 30. The pass gives skiers unlimited access to the slopes, Monday through Friday, with Express Card discount rates on weekends and holidays. The Express Card makes its return this season, offering a first day free and discounts from $8 to $24 per ticket throughout the season. The card will be available in town or at the Vancouver Snow Show for $57 per adult, $48 for youth or seniors, or $28 for children until Oct. 25. The card price raises to $73 for adults after that date. Also new for the season is a parent pass, a regularly priced dual mountain pass which can be transferred between parents of kids aged 12 and under who wish to share their time with the kids on the slopes. Only one parent can use the pass at a time, but if both wish to hit the hill with the kids on the same day, the pass allows a second lift ticket to be purchased for the Express Card price. Provided you've saved up your tips over the summer, the mountains' best deal is the early bird dual mountain pass, available for $1,159 for adults, $559 for seniors, $589 for youth and $349 for kids, if purchased before Sept. 30. Early bird single mountain passes start at $999 for adults. Those participating in the Chamber of Commerce's Whistler Spirit training course can also qualify for the Ambassador pass, which is $1,039 for a full season, $669 for a 15-day pass and $529 for a young at hear/youth Ambassador pass. A final cash-saving option will be available by purchasing tickets at Lower Mainland 7-11 convenience stores, where last year's Fast Tracks discount program will continue. Season passes go on sale Aug. 30

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