In new efforts to attract cash-conscious skiers, Winter Park, Colo., Killington, Vt., and Waterville Valley, N.H., are among major ski resorts that will let you ski significant portions of their mountains for less than the cost of an all-area, all-day lift ticket. Winter Park's "mini-ticket," for example, offers the lower half of its expanse for $15 this season. Morning tickets (especially Sundays) and other short-time tickets are also growing in number.
But the innovation with the largest promise for change is computerized flexible ticketing. Mont Ste. Anne in Quebec introduced a $1-million system last season that allows skiers to pay only for the vertical feet they actually ski. Magnetized "point tickets" automatically deduct points as skiers use various lifts (gondola, 30 points; T-bar, 5 points, etc.). Point tickets are not only interchangeable between skiers, but are good for three years. Other tickets allow skiers to buy a three-hour block of time.
Traditional day and multi-day tickets continue to be used by committed skiers and vacationers. But point tickets, popular with casual and budget-watching skiers, comprise about a fourth of Mont Ste. Anne's ticket sales.
This season, Mt. Bachelor, Ore., has become the first ski area in the United States to adopt the computerized ticketing system. Similar systems are in use in Europe and Japan.