Our Northwest

Modest wage-earners skiing less than ever

Friday, December 5, 2014by  Jon Osterberg

Skiing and snowboarding has become a sport for the wealthy, based on an August ski industry report.
   The National Ski Areas Association found that with rising lift prices, income correlates with who is and isn’t skiing. Those earning $100,000+ now ski 11% more than in 2006 and account for 56% of all skiers. Middle wage-earners remained steady at 25%.
   Those earning $50,000 or less have dropped from 30% to 19% of all skiers.
   Lower-income skiers find it tough to afford daily lift prices, which first topped $100 in 2010 at big-name resorts. This winter, adults will pay $118 to ski for a day at Vail, $115 at Jackson Hole, and $108 at Alta/Snowbird.
   Premier Northwest resorts are comparable, with Whistler/Blackcomb and Sun Valley at $109 per day. In comparison, adult daily lift tickets at other popular Northwest areas are near-bargains:

  • Crystal Mountain, $68
  • Mission Ridge, $55
  • Mt. Bachelor, $79
  • Mt. Baker, $57
  • Mt. Hood Meadows, $74
  • Mt. Spokane, $52
  • Schweitzer, $72
  • Ski Bluewood, $44
  • Stevens Pass, $69
  • Summit at Snoqualmie, $64
  • Timberline, $70
  • White Pass, $62

   I can appreciate how costly skiing has become. High school is when I became a decent skier. In particular, my friends and I went night skiing on Tuesdays at Hyak, now called Summit East. The lure: discounted lift tickets provided by Ernst Hardware for a measly $2.
   Two bucks! Even today, that’s just $11.73 when adjusted for inflation. Night skiing at Summit East in 2015 costs $41, nearly $30 more than the comparable cost for January 1971.
   Inflation, indeed.

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