Season-Pass War Casualty

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In 1998, the year before Marise Cipriani bought Colorado's Berthoud Pass Ski Resort, the price of a season pass at neighboring Copper Mountain was $800. Four years later, it's as low as $209 (as of September '01). So Cipriani's decision to close Berthoud's lifts for the '01-'02 season and operate the small resort for guided cat-skiing only shouldn't be much of a surprise. She cited her inability to compete in the escalating season-pass price wars among Colorado's Front Range resorts -- including Copper, Winter Park, and Vail Resorts' Breckenridge and Keystone -- as the main reason for the shut-down.

"Since we cannot charge enough to cover our operating expenses and still compete with the steeply discounted ticket prices offered at the larger areas, we reinvented ourselves into an exciting new product that is at the heart of what Berthoud is all about," Cipriani said on Berthoud's website. She also sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, asking for an investigation into what she called "predatory pricing practices" by her Front Range competitors.

Legal debates aside, the cat-skiing idea may prove to be a popular alternative for Denverites, offering the closest kitty to the city. The cats will run six days a week; the cost, $185 a person, a day.