Writing off this year's slumping snowfall as a fluke, ski resorts look to next season to boost sales

March Madness viewers bombarded with ski ads

DENVER -- Colorado's ski resorts could certainly use a blast of snow, with many local school districts, including Denver, on spring break this week.

Resorts are desperate for some good news, and one had to look no further than March Madness basketball this past weekend to see that desperation.

If you were watching the games, you undoubtedly noticed the onslaught of ski resort commercials.

Vail Resorts pushed out ads for Breckenridge, Beaver Creek and its Epic Pass, a pass that Coloradans are already intimately familiar with.

The pass has been around for more than a decade, but experts say there are likely two primary reasons for the new ad blitz.

The first – snow conditions have been uncharacteristically bad this ski season and overall sales are down.

The same is true for non-Vail resorts. Skier visits in Aspen alone were down 20 percent early in the season, with updated statistics due out soon.

“It’s hurting everyone,” said Dawn Gundersen. “Everyone I’ve talked to up here says It’s hurting the hotels, it’s hurting the restaurants. Oh yeah, it’s a major disappointment. So, hopefully this won’t happen again for a very long time.”

Secondly, the Epic Pass has some brand new competition next year.

It’s called the Ikon Pass and it’s on sale right now for the first time ever.

The Ikon Pass features all those non-Vail resorts, including Steamboat, Winter Park and Aspen - as well as resorts throughout the western U.S. and even some in the Northeast and Canada.

You get it all for less than $900 a season, and under $600 if you’re willing to live with some blackout dates around holidays.

Despite the conditions, resilient skiers and boarders are making the most of it.

“I would say today, the conditions are pretty squishy and slushy, but for us it was a great day. We had fun,” said one skier just coming off the slopes.

Bottom line – because of a tough year, the resorts are already pushing the next ski season. And they’re doing everything they can to get you to bite on deals now in hopes you’ll just write off this season as a fluke.

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