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Why skiers and snowboarders want to buy the Epic Pass early

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Ski season over? Not yet if you're skiing with the Epic Pass, which grants skiers and snowboarders access to resorts in Colorado (Arapahoe Basin, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Eldora, Keystone, Vail), Michigan (Mt. Brighton), Minnesota (Afton Alps), Utah (Canyons), and the Lake Tahoe region (Heavenly, Kirkwood, Northstar). There's still one week of full-on skiing--two if you're a Breckenridge or Kirkwood regular--to go at a majority of these Vail Resorts properties before the 2013-2014 season comes to an end.

But just because you can still make turns on those mountains next weekend--and enjoy another weekend of spring concerts--doesn't mean you can wait until then to buy next season's Epic Pass. Unlike previous years where you had until the final day of the ski season (give or take a day or two) to score the best deal and the best perks for the following season's pass by putting a $49 deposit down and paying the rest in the fall, that deadline is falling early this year.

Vail Resorts is encouraging its pass holders and prospective pass holders to purchase their 2014-2015 Epic Passes before the season is up to receive the best perks for next season. For weeks, Vail Resorts has been advertising that April 13 would be the last day to purchase 2014-2015 passes with perks for $49 down. According to an email that went out to Epic Pass Club members (pass holders are automatically enrolled in this community that gives you even more perks from your pass), that deadline was then extended by 24 hours where pass holders could renew their pass by 11:59 p.m. MST on April 14 and still receive six buddy tickets to use next season. Buy or renew later and you'll only receive two buddy tickets. Not good if you have more than two friends who want to ski with you next year but who don't want to pay the ticket window lift ticket price.

The Epic Pass perks include six buddy tickets (two if pass is purchased after April 14), six ski-with-a-friend tickets, and locking in the lowest pass price. Buddy tickets differ from the ski-with-a-friend (SWAF) tickets: They're lift tickets offered at a flat discounted rate that are less expensive than SWAF tickets. During the ski season, you can also flash your Epic Pass to receive discounts on on-mountain dining, rental equipment and more. And next year, if you have the Epic Pass with no restrictions, the pass option that costs $729 but offers unlimited skiing and riding at all the Vail Resorts with no black-out dates, you also receive ski days at Niseko in Japan, Verbier in Switzerland, and Les 3 Vallees in France.

Although you may have missed that April 13 deadline that Vail has been pushing since its 2014-2015 passes were available for purchase in mid-March, it doesn't mean missing out on an Epic Pass altogether. It simply means you don't get as many buddy tickets. But the longer you wait to buy, the more you potentially have to pay for the pass. The Epic Pass, in all its versions from value to local to what's simply called the Epic Pass (and you can read about all the different versions), only gets more expensive as next season draws closer.

For more details on Vail Resorts' Epic Pass and to purchase, visit epicpass.com.

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