Ikon Pass finally goes on sale, but there are some drawbacks for skiers, boarders | SkyHiNews.com

Ikon Pass finally goes on sale, but there are some drawbacks for skiers, boarders

Just how iconic will the new Ikon Pass become?

Winter Park Resort's parent company, the Alterra Mountain Co., officially launched their new flagship ski passes, the Ikon Pass and the Ikon Base Pass, earlier this week.

The passes are extensive, bringing together more than 63,000 acres of skiable terrain across 26 resorts in nine states and four Canadian provinces, including Winter Park Resort, Steamboat, Copper, Mammoth Mountain, Jackson Hole, Deer Valley and more. But what do Grand County residents think?

"I think it's going to work out pretty well for me," said Ian Murray of Fraser. "The fact that it comes with Steamboat, Jackson Hole, Big Sky and Snowbird makes it really exciting for me. They're resorts that I wanted to ski for a while, and obviously pretty big name, impressive, top-notch, world-class terrain."

The only thing I don’t like are the blackout dates. They’re hitting the week after Christmas, Presidents’ Day weekend, and MLK weekend. Those are the weekends that the kids are out of school, and if you’re traveling you’re more likely to go on those weekends because you’ve got an extra day.

Not everyone shares Murray's enthusiasm, though the consensus seems to be that the pass is fairly desirable for Colorado skiers and boarders.

In a Sky-Hi News online poll taken this week, just 38 percent of the 64 respondents expressed an interest in purchasing one of the two passes.

Interested parties are pointing to Jackson Hole, Aspen Snowmass, AltaSnowbird and Steamboat as some of the primary reasons for purchasing the pass. Others say the range of resorts gives them the opportunity to find and explore new mountains.

"I've skied Snowmass in the past, so I'm interested in maybe getting a weekend in there next year," said Mairead Scannell Nagle, a Granby resident. "But I'm also excited that they've got some Utah destinations, and I'm already scheming a trip up to Canada. … So I think it works. If you get access to these resorts and you try them, you might really like them."

Critics of the pass are disappointed that Crested Butte, a popular resort included in the Rocky Mountain Super Pass, which also includes Winter Park Resort, wasn't included with the Ikon packages. Blackout dates are also drawing ire from skiers and boarders.

Under the Ikon Base Pass, there are blackout dates on restricted mountains during popular holiday times such as Dec. 26 to 31, Jan. 19 and 20 and Feb. 16 and 17.

"The only thing I don't like are the blackout dates," admitted Nagle. "They're hitting the week after Christmas, Presidents' Day weekend, and MLK weekend. Those are the weekends that the kids are out of school, and if you're traveling you're more likely to go on those weekends because you've got an extra day."

Another concern was that Winter Park Resort would discontinue its season pass option, though that's not the case. Winter Park Resort's exclusive season pass continues to be on sale, now for $429.

For Winter Park Resort, the name of the game is spreading brand awareness, and attempting to recruit new skiers to the mountain from all over the United States and Canada. That effort has been successful thus far.

Since the pass was announced, more than 1.2 million visitors have been to the Ikon Pass website, and almost 2 million emails have been sent to customers about the pass, according to Steve Hurlbert, director of communications for Winter Park Resort.

"I think it's going to elevate Winter Park's general national exposure," said Hurlbert. "When you're mentioned in the same breath as Aspen, Mammoth, Squaw Valley, Jackson Hole, Deer Valley and others, I think it's going to really raise people's awareness about Winter Park Resort. Especially exposure to skiers that maybe we haven't reached before like those in California and the east coast."

The pass will compete directly with Vail Resort's Epic Pass, which features more than 60 resorts across the United States, Canada, Australia, Austria, France and Italy. Both the Ikon Pass and Epic Pass are selling for $899, while the Ikon Base Pass and Epic Local Pass are selling for $599 and $669, respectively.

Hurlbert said he doesn't know how the Ikon Pass will ultimately stack up to the Epic Pass — sales figures for the Ikon Pass have yet to be released by Alterra — but said, as far as skiers and boarders are concerned, they can't lose.

"I think only time will tell," said Hurlbert. "The bottom line though is that whatever way you go, Ikon or Epic, the skier wins really. When you've got two major passes that are competing for skiers, the skiers are going to win every single time."

IKON PASS OFFERINGS

Unlimited skiing — Steamboat, Winter Park, Copper Mountain, Eldora, Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows, Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain, Big Bear, Stratton, Snowshoe, Tremblant and Blue Mountain.

Seven days — Jackson Hole, Big Sky, Killington, Sugarbush, Revelstoke and Deer Valley.

Seven days at each resort operator with multiple ski areas — Aspen-Snowmass’ four mountains, AltaSnowbird, Loon Mountain/Sunday River/Sugarloaf, and Banff Sunshine/Lake Louise/Mount Norquay.

Perks include early booking privileges at CMH Heli-Skiing in British Columbia.

Price $899