‘Tis the season for snow sports

Skiers and snowboarders can see one upside to the upcoming season of chilly, rainy days – however dreary it is on campus, it means it must be snowing somewhere. Luckily for Davis students, Lake Tahoe is roughly only a two-hour drive away, and with it, thousands of square miles of fluffy terrain to ski and ride. The only problem facing Tahoe addicts is deciding where to invest a few hundred dollars in a lift pass for the season.

Keeping in mind that students will likely want to coordinate with others when purchasing their passes, here are current season pass prices at some of Tahoe’s most popular resorts.

Vail Resorts, after purchasing Northstar-At-Tahoe last year, is offering a Tahoe Value pass that will allow college students restricted access – meaning passholders will pay an additional fee on certain “blackout” days – to both Northstar and Heavenly Lake Tahoe for $299. Unlike last season, Sierra-At-Tahoe will not be included in the deal, but offers unrestricted access to students for $279.

Alpine Meadows Resort, under the new ownership of KSL Capitol Partners, has partnered up with Squaw Valley U.S.A. to offer a combined student pass for $349. Alpine is also grouped with Homewood Mountain and Kirkwood resorts for the Unlimited Tripl3Threat pass, which allows unrestricted access for $329.

“There’s so much to do and see here. We’ve been selling passes pretty consistently,” said Megan Maracle, a resort associate at Northstar. “We have a wonderful, laid-back environment. The variety of trails lets the advanced people come to shred or do the terrain park, or just slide down the mountain like me.” Northstar has been a local favorite in past seasons, but its blacked-out Saturdays for college students this year have been a slight deterrent to some. “I didn’t know that Northstar had no Saturdays this year. That’s too bad,” said Jessie Adams, senior art history and international relations double major. “I’ve always loved Northstar for their trails and their terrain park. I can go off on the side on the jumps without getting intimidated.” Maracle did note that Northstar pairs well with Heavenly because it tends to be less crowded at Heavenly on Saturdays, when the college pass is blacked out at Northstar. Other resorts, such as Squaw Valley, have elected to allow access on Saturdays after seeing the reaction to Northstar’s restriction on their peak day of business. “We know college students can often only head to the snow on Saturdays,” said Julie Maurer, vice president of marketing and sales at Squaw Valley. “Our college pass has only 10 blackout days.” Maurer said that Alpine was right next door to Squaw Valley, making it a logical choice to partner with for a season pass deal. It offers two different but equally great resorts for a competitive price.

“It’s an incredible value to have access to that amount of acreage,” Maurer said. “Squaw and Alpine combined gives you 6,000 acres, 270 runs and 44 lifts, which is a really compelling ski offer. Also, both resorts have a great après-ski scene that I think will be very attractive to college students.”

On the other hand, the Tripl3Threat college pass gets students into three resorts: Kirkwood, Alpine and Homewood. Normally $329, but $255 if purchased through the Ski or Snowboard Club at UC Davis, students find that the Tripl3Threat pass offers them the best opportunities for riding even on the busiest days of the season.

“Options are always necessary with how crowded Tahoe can get,” said Allie van Dorn, a fifth-year senior community and regional development major. “$255 for three of the top resorts in Tahoe is virtually unheard of. Not to mention that Kirkwood doesn’t have any blackout dates. This pass will ensure that any day you want to ride, you will.”

Even after looking at the season pass deals at each resort and considering what they offer, there are still a myriad of things to take into account when making the decision.

“It definitely matters where my friends get their passes,” Adams said. “I’m most likely going to coordinate with my roommates.”

Also to consider is distance from Davis, where accommodations for the night will often be, and where the clutch friend with 4-wheel-drive wants to go. Additionally, many of the special college deals will expire in November, and most resorts are opening in less than a month.

Choosing where to ski and snowboard this winter will be different for everybody, but in any case, there will surely be sufficient Davis representation on Tahoe’s slopes.

LANI CHAN can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

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