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Cancer patient too sick to ski still must pay season pass bill, Vail Resorts says

Posted: 9:44 PM, Jul 30, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-31 00:25:10-04

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ARVADA, Colo. -- Many Coloradans have already paid or put down a deposit for season passes. But one man just diagnosed with cancer says buying the extra insurance would've protected him against what he calls the "petty and greedy" behavior of Vail Resorts.

Arvada resident Michael Cookson's favorite place to be is on a mountain skiing.

"That feeling when you’re skiing, you’re not thinking about work. You make that next turn, that's what you’re thinking about,” said Cookson. "The rush, the powder."

For a man who skied more than fifty times last year, the Epic Pass deal made sense. At a pricey $899, skiers and snowboarders can go to resorts worldwide. But it pays for itself in just four visits, according to the Vail Resort’s press release announcing the Epic Pass last year. Michael's account auto-renews every season, but things changed in June. Cookson said doctors diagnosed him with prostate cancer that metastasized into bone cancer this past spring.

"My energy level will certainly decline," said Cookson. "Am I gonna die? Am I circling the drain. What does that mean?"

Doctors told him his chemotherapy treatments will last for 18 weeks.

"Hopefully, I will not have to go through radiation but that would be the next step," said Cookson.

He realized there's no way he would have the strength or be in a state of health to ski this season during his treatments. So he called Vail Resorts to cancel his Epic Pass before he's charged for the full amount, but the staff wouldn’t budge.

"They said that it’s our policy. We will charge the credit card account in September for the 2018-2019 pass," said Cookson.

Vail Resorts will charge $899 no matter what to his card in the fall.

"Kind of petty and greedy," said Cookson.

Denver7 reached out to Vail Resorts about Michael’s situation. They responded with the following statement:

In spite of best intentions, unforeseen things can sometimes happen that prevent us from participating in the sport we love. Like other companies in the travel industry, we strongly encourage our guests to purchase pass insurance to protect themselves from unexpected events that they can't predict such as illness, injury or job loss. Our pass products are non-refundable and non-transferrable, and pass insurance is available at the point of sale for a modest cost of $10 to $25 per adult pass and $5 to $15 per child pass.

Liz Biebl

Director, Brand Communications

Cookson didn’t purchase the $25 insurance and wants others to learn from his ordeal.

"I want people to know it’s important to buy the insurance on your season pass. Whether you're gonna break your leg, hopefully not. Transfer jobs, family health crisis," Cookson said.

The Director of Brand Communications plans to get in touch with Cookson to discuss his situation.