Summit County cross-country skiers 70 and older frustrated with Nordic centers’ price hike | SummitDaily.com

Summit County cross-country skiers 70 and older frustrated with Nordic centers’ price hike

Nordic skiers speed along a track during a past race in Summit County.

Some local Summit County Nordic skiers 70 and older are frustrated with a steep hike in season pass costs at three local Nordic ski centers.

A representative for the Nordic centers themselves, however, says the cost increase was a long-time coming and will help pay for improved conditions and offerings.

For the first time this winter, the Breckenridge, Gold Run and Frisco Nordic centers will not offer what's been known as a joint pass for an age category previously known as super seniors, or those aged 70 and above. As recently as last year, Frisco and Breckenridge resident super seniors could sign up for season-long skiing at all three centers for just $65 via an early bird joint pass. The pass is offered through a letter of understanding between the three centers.

But this year, the centers have done away with the super senior age group, instead reclassifying the senior age group as anyone 65 or older. The change effectively means that skiers between the ages of 65 and 69 will have a reduced, resident early bird rate from last year, from $230 to $195. That said, that same price tag for those above 70 means a year-over-year tripling of their joint pass price.

In explaining the steep hike for the eldest skiers, the town of Breckenridge open space and trails manager, Anne Murphy, said this year's price increase was something the centers hinted at to its customers in recent years. Murphy said it's the first price hike in a decade.

"We've taken a really long look at pricing and age categories," Murphy said. "It's been 10 years since we upped prices. During the economic downturn we wanted to make sure everyone had a break to do as much Nordic skiing as possible given the fiscal crisis everyone was in."

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Murphy added that the Nordic centers decided to pull the trigger on a new pricing structure this year because all three centers have recently undertaken, or are currently undertaking, facility improvements. These include the Gold Run Nordic Center making snow for the first time this year, greater investments in snowmaking and grooming equipment at the three centers, and the addition of new trails. To boot, the Frisco Nordic Center has undergone several changes in recent years, namely the town taking over its management.

"I think this is more accurately reflecting our operational expenses," Murphy said, "and trying to match past (pricing) structures across the state. It's a happy medium between decreasing rates for the 65-69-year-old crowd and combining it with 70 and older."

A couple of members of that 70-and-older crowd certainly don't see it that way. Rather, Breckenridge resident Pat Kopystianskyj feels the price increase unjustly gouges those former super seniors.

"I just feel like they are picking on the super senior group unfairly," Kopystianskyj said. "There's nothing modest about that increase. And they are just eliminating it. You know, you finally make it to be a super senior and, not for nothing, you don't get too many perks for being 70.

"If they wanted to raise my rate from $65 to $75," Kopystianskyj continued, "I mean, percentage wise, that's still a pretty good percentage."

Kopystianskyj's neighbor, Karen Kistler, 72, is another concerned former super senior. With the price increase, Kistler said she'd most likely opt for what's known as a punch pass rather than a full-season pass, to ski a handful of days at all three centers. Murphy said this winter all three centers will jointly offer three-, six- and 10-day punch passes for $50, $90 and $145, respectively.

On the opposite end of the age spectrum, Murphy said, for the first time this season all three centers will offer free season-long Nordic skiing to anyone 12 or younger. That's a change from last year's deal of free skiing for anyone 6 or younger. As for the adult Nordic skiers, ages 13-64, the cost for an early bird, resident joint pass to all three centers is currently $275. Early bird rates will increase to regular-season rates on Nov. 15.

Murphy also added that if any Nordic skiers of any age are particularly pinched financially, they can inquire about receiving scholarship money by approaching the Breckenridge Recreation Department.

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