DENVER — Ski resorts will be offering discounted passes again this year even though skiers and boarders hit the slopes in record numbers last season.

In Utah, host of the 2002 Winter Olympics, resorts will be offering $20.02 off lift tickets for skiers staying in participating hotels. Kip Pitou, president of Ski Utah, said ski areas want to make sure the games don't drive away snow riders.

"We need to be pro-active. People think we will be too busy and too expensive during the games and that is not the case," Pitou said. He said the games only last 17 days, and only 2 percent of the trails and terrain will be tied up.

Colorado resorts, battling for riders from the growing population along the Front Range from Fort Collins to Pueblo, are leading the way as usual.

On Wednesday, Vail Resorts announced a "buddy pass" price of $249, good for unrestricted skiing at Keystone, Breckenridge and Arapahoe Basin. It requires four people to buy passes together.

On Thursday, Copper Mountain said it was selling an unrestricted season pass for $209 if purchased before Sept. 30.

On Friday, Vail Resorts replied by lowering its prices to $209 for its "Buddy Pass."

Vail said for $299 a rider can have 10 days on Vail Mountain itself as well as unrestricted skiing at the other three areas.

A pass sold for $379 allows adults to ski at both Copper and Winter Park. Winter Park has a weekday pass for $249 and an unrestricted pass for $299. Winter Park's "buddy pass," whose initial sale in 1998 triggered the ski-pass wars, brings the unrestricted pass down to $198 if four people buy passes together.

Last season, the ski industry rebounded from two below-average seasons to notch a record 57.3 million skier-boarder visits. A visit represents the purchase and use of a lift ticket.

Squaw Valley will have a frequent rider program. A $5 card can bring the daily cost of a lift ticket to $38 from $56 for midweek skiers. Last season the number of card holders increased 79 percent.

The "ME Ticket" at Killington, in Vermont, allows a rider to buy packages of tickets good at all resorts owned by American Skiing Co. A package for 12 days, for example, drops the price to $42 per day, compared with an average of $58 bought at the window. A free ticket is thrown in if the pass is bought online before Dec. 3.

A family of four could ski Spruce Peak at Stowe Mountain Resort, also in Vermont, for a season for $599. The $20 Stowe Card entitles users to 25 percent off lift tickets Sunday through Friday with the seventh day free.