“Lift tickets are our bread and butter”
It has been nearly two months since CBMR’s Ski Free promotion ended, but as the resort learned last weekend some skiers are still skiing the mountain for free. More than 20 people were caught skiing without passes or lift tickets during a multi-day ticket sting operation.
“Lift tickets are our bread and butter. We take it seriously,” says CBMR general manager Randy Barrett.
Barrett says the resort has conducted ticket sting operations before, but with a growing number of roads and driveways stretching up the backside of the mountain, the problem of skiers who don’t pay to use the resort facilities is getting worse.
“We’ve always been aware of the access points on the mountain. What’s going to change things this year is the maintaining of the new Prospect Road… All of a sudden it’s being used quite frequently,” Barrett says.
The new road for the Prospect subdivision, an extension of Prospect Drive, climbs above the Prospect lift on the back side of the mountain, and ends between the Prospect and Teocalli lifts near a ski trail called Gus’s Way. Barrett says another access point is the overhead bridge on Prospect Drive. From either access point, he says, skiers have been able to access the lifts on the backside of the mountain, such as Paradise and East River, and ski for free because tickets are not regularly checked at those lifts.
To combat the problem, CBMR public relations director April Prout says the resort will begin checking tickets and passes at the alternative lifts, including Prospect, Gold Link, Teocalli, East River and occasionally Paradise Express.
“We started checking last week to see how bad it was getting and it was like ‘Whoa, there is a lot of this going on,’” Prout says.
CBMR vice president and chief marketing officer Ken Stone says, “In the first day of checking we had over a dozen people that were caught in a two-hour period.”
CBMR tickets and season pass office manager Rebecca Bell says more than 20 people intentionally trying to ski or board for free were caught last weekend without tickets and were given an interesting choice—buy their freedom for the price of two regular tickets, or talk it over with the police and potentially face more serious consequences.
Prout says the penalty for deceptive use of ski facilities is up to a $1,000 fine and jail time. “It’s a great snow year and everyone wants to get up here, but we don’t want to have to send people to court,” Prout says.
Barrett says the resort doesn’t want to send the wrong message to the homeowners who actually use the roads to access their property. The ticket checking efforts are focused on those people intentionally trying to ski the mountain for free. Homeowners who accidentally ski away from their residence without their pass or ticket are considered “unintentional,” and are not the real problem, Barrett says.
In addition to skiers without tickets, Stone says another issue is the number of skiers using a pass or ticket that is not theirs. “We know there are people sharing passes, but that is also theft of services,” Stone says. “We want to let people know there is going to be a lot of scrutiny from here on out. We may be asking at the main lifts for people to pull up their goggles so we can identify them on their pass.”
“It’s sad,” Stone adds. “If there are a number of people involved in fraud it raises the price for everyone. Those people who actually have passes or tickets should feel offended.”