The Mt. Ashland ski area has cut a big chunk out of the price of its season passes and knocked nearly 10 percent off its daily pass price.

The Mt. Ashland ski area has cut a big chunk out of the price of its season passes and knocked nearly 10 percent off its daily pass price.

Through Oct. 15, individual passes will be on sale for $349, which is $100 less than the sale price offered in 2009. Starting Oct. 16, season passes will be sold for $429, a $120 reduction from a year ago.

Rick Saul, marketing director for the ski area, said Mt. Ashland recognized that recreation dollars are tight and industry competition for the dollar has increased.

"It's a matter of responding to the economic situation," Saul said. "People are looking for value."

He said ski area managers made their decision after reviewing market indicators such as unemployment, the Consumer Confidence Index and competitors' rates.

"We are responding to the dynamics of the marketplace," Saul said.

That will translate into better deals for skiers and snowboarders. Even the price for daily lift tickets will roll back to $39, down from $43 the past two seasons. Youth season passes will be $139 during the sale — $21 less than last year's fall sale price — and $169 after Oct. 15.

Although last year's ski business was down from the previous year, Saul said the ski area did better economically. More guests visited the resort who purchased lift tickets and spent money on rental equipment, lessons and food and beverages.

"We had an upswing in that kind of visitor that helped our financial outlook for that season," he said.

Saul was also hopeful that the ski area will get good news on its request for expansion. The Forest Service is expected to release a record of decision this fall on a proposal to add a chairlift and increase intermediate terrain for the area. The proposal has been stalled by appeals and court actions for more than a decade. Once the decision is released, the ski area will wait to see if additional actions are taken by opponents.

"The Forest Service will prepare a decision for Mt. Ashland to move forward," Saul said. "It's definitely a very important step leading to a permanent decision, hopefully very soon, about the improvement project."

Despite legal difficulties and tough economic times, the ski area has thrived, Saul said, because "when times are hard, people look for experiences that make them feel better. We are close and pretty affordable."

For more details, visit www.mtashland.com or call 541-482-2897.

Mail Tribune intern Vera Westbrook can be reached at intern1@mailtribune.com.