Mt. Bachelor announces cuts in season-ticket prices

After tumbling from the summit of Oregon ski areas, Mt. Bachelor has lowered season ticket prices -- especially for teens and young adults -- joining a nationwide trend of appealing first to local skiers and snowboarders.

"The youth segment of the market is the future of the sport and our business," general manager Dave Rathbun said in a statement. "Making season passes affordable is a key step in our efforts to attract and retain the youth market by allowing them to visit frequently and develop deep and meaningful relationships with the mountain."

Amid grumbling about higher prices, broken-down lifts and declining service, Mt. Bachelor tumbled last winter from its longtime position as the most popular ski area in Oregon. It was eclipsed by Mt. Hood Meadows outside Portland.

Recognizing the problems, Mt. Bachelor named a new management team in May.

Mt. Bachelor cut the adult season pass from $929 to $799, the young adult pass from $699 to $349, the teen pass from $399 to $249, youth pass from $219 to $149, and the senior pass from $699 to $599.

The cuts come after two straight years when season pass prices went up.

Doug La Placa, president and CEO of Visit Bend, said the lower prices will go a long way toward repairing the rift between Mt. Bachelor and its customers.

"From an economic standpoint, the move to lower season pass prices will keep Bend and Mt. Bachelor competitive in the winter tourist industry," he added.

Nationwide, season pass prices have been dropping for about five years, though daily passes have been rising with inflation, said Michael Berry, president of the National Ski Areas Association.

Destination resorts in isolated locations have been less likely to cut prices, while ski areas with a large local population base have been more likely to cut, Berry said.

Mt. Bachelor falls between the two types.

"I think the industry realized, quite honestly, that our best customers were the season pass owners," Berry said. "Affordable season passes have proven to be very well received, both in terms of increased volume and increased frequency of the visit."

Pacific Northwest Ski Areas Association numbers showed Oregon was on track to set a record with 1.95 million skier visits last winter, but Mt. Bachelor saw a 7 percent drop to 472,784 and was passed by Mt. Hood Meadows with 509,001.