Vail Resorts — the nation's largest ski area — is on track to far outpace the number of people prosecuted last season for using someone else's pass, stealing a lift ticket or hiking up the mountain to use upper lifts for free.

Thirty-two people there have been prosecuted so far this season for "deceptive use of a ski facility," according to Vail police. By this time last season, only three people had been prosecuted.

Police say most of the increase can be credited to added security measures, including improved employee training. Ticket-scanners are also being offered an undisclosed monetary incentive to peg violators, said Jen Brown, spokeswoman for Broomfield-based Vail Resorts Inc.

"We're also working on improved technology for the future," said Brown, who declined to discuss specifics.

To help Vail employees find scammers, this winter's season passes have bigger identification pictures, said Sgt. Craig Bettis.

"The face of the pass has changed. The picture is better," Bettis said. "We`ve set the bar high for employees to find deceptive use."

Common violations include "borrowing" another person`s pass; splitting a day ticket between two people by moving it from one person`s coat to another; and hiking up the mountain to a resort`s upper lifts — most of which don`t scan tickets.

Bettis said he recalls catching a Boulder couple doing just that.


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"They were skinning up on teleskis and using the trail lifts," he said.

Last season, 64 people were charged with "deceptive use" at Vail, Bettis said. But most of the infractions happened in the spring — especially during Spring Break.

"So I expect the numbers to double or triple by the end of this year," he said.

Bettis explained that Spring Break seems to bring more violations because some pass holders are done skiing for the season and give their passes away, vacationers come to Colorado shopping for cheap tickets and more of the risk-taking youth population hits the slopes.

The number of violators caught at resorts in neighboring Summit County this winter is much lower.

Keystone Ski Resort has ticketed four people, and Copper Mountain Resort has ticketed two, said Summit County sheriff`s spokeswoman Paulette Horr. No tickets have been issued this winter at Arapahoe Basin or Breckenridge, she said.

Katie Abraham, 20, of Boulder, is fully aware of the cost of lending out a season pass. The University of Colorado junior and her sister have both bought five-mountain passes for years, and her sister let a friend borrow it once.

"The lift person took it away," Abraham said.

That`s why she has always said "no" to pals who persist that nothing bad will happen if she lets them borrow her pass.

"It`s just out of fear," she said. "I have even had the ticket people question if my pass was me before."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Vanessa Miller at millerv@dailycamera.com or (303) 473-1329.

Archived comments

SLOW NEWS DAY

What is this? Ski area season pass puffery day? There's a similar story about Eldora today.

mondoboulder

2/9/2007 9:32:07 AM

"They were skinning up on teleskis and using the trail lifts," he said.

Oh, the nerve. I'll sleep much better tonight knowing Vail isn't loosing any money, thank goodness.

jackstraw

2/9/2007 12:31:21 PM

Yes, and 65 whole cases for the vast, Vail ski empire. Are our newspapers the willing tools of corporate greedheads, or are our newspapers the willing tools of corporate greedheads?

mondoboulder

2/9/2007 1:00:42 PM

I agree. Vail is a money hungry greed corp. If people want to skin up to the top of the mtn on their teleskis, that should be perfectly fine. Why does it matter?? I can't blame them either. Who wants to pay $75 for a stupid lift ticket when you can ski up and do some sweet carves down the slope.

bikerider07

2/9/2007 2:51:23 PM

To be fair, they were skinning up, then using the upper lifts, which is stealing services. But how the hell many people do this?

Vail could just blow this off a a minor inconvenience at worst, but they are just greedheads to the very marrow of their miserable bones. And since the papers will gladly pimp for them, why not zealously safeguard every last nickel?

mondoboulder

2/9/2007 3:05:29 PM

OK. so Vail could just blow this one off b/c all they were doing was using the upper lift. But, let's imaging "One of them falls and breaks something. Now they are using Vail staff to help them. And, believe me they would expect Vail staff to come to their rescue. Or how about this, these people who are just using the lift run into someone else hurting them. And of course, since they have demonstrated not to have any respect, they would probably leave the scene."

You want to ski without paying, guess what? This is Colorado. Have you looked out your window west recently? There is plenty of places to ski that are not part of a resort.

Are Vail or Eldora or any other resort over reacting? heck no. I say "go and keep doing it." You have the right and the law behind you.

thetruth1960@hotmail.com

2/12/2007 12:06:28 PM