Freshman packed the lobby of the Student Union Building Sept. 25 awaiting their free Purgatory Resort ski passes given as part of a marketing partnership between Fort Lewis College and Mountain Capital Partners.
An estimated 250 freshman students stood in line to pick up passes, Lindsay Nyquist, the director of marketing and communications for FLC, said.
The program began conception in Fall 2018 when James Coleman, the owner of Mountain Capital Partners which owns Purgatory Resort, had the idea and launched it at the beginning of the 2019-2020 academic year, Keith Guyet, chief marketing officer for Mountain Capital Partners said.
FLC does pay money to MCP for the marketing partnership, Nyquist said. The money has been used for advertisements on shuttle buses at Purgatory Resort in previous years.
The money is not being used for the program. MCP is funding it entirely with the commitment to continue giving passes to freshman students until Spring 2021, Nyquist and Guyet said.
Both organizations hope to continue the offer, which currently is just a test program, after 2021 and extend the offer to other universities and their local mountains, Theresa Graven, public relations specialist at Purgatory said.
“We were interested in offering it to transfer students and we would love to offer it to all students, but that was a big commitment to ask of them,” Nyquist said.
The free pass is for new students in the middle of a major transition in life, Guyet said explaining why the passes were only given to Freshman students.
“It is giving somebody at that stage of their life a little boost, and a helping hand,” Graven said.
The program was started to help FLC recruit and to improve FLC retention rates, Guyet said.
It is also intended to get students vested in the sport and community to encourage them to stay in the mountains, to enter the workforce and to grow the sport, Guyet said.
The free passes are offering new students the opportunity to learn how to ski or snowboard, including Kayla Wadsworth and Matthew Shaffer.
Both students haven't skied or snowboarded in the past, and the free passes were not a factor in them deciding to come to FLC for school, they said.
Wadsworth said that she had not heard about the program until after attending FLCl.
Students who were unable to pick up a pass at the booth can still receive one at the Purgatory store in town or at the ticket office at the resort.