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Aspen Skiing Co. has rejoined Colorado Ski Country USA, salving wounds opened 11 months ago when the resort defected from the trade association in a squabble over priorities.

Ski Country President John Frew said the organization will focus on marketing Colorado as "the greatest ski product on earth," increasing its marketing budget by half.

When it quit, Aspen was reportedly contributing $140,000, or 7.8%, to Ski Country's $1.8 million budget. Irked by Ski Country member Vail Associates, which independently placed ads in Aspen newspapers and hawked discount tickets at Snowmass Village Mall, Aspen executives said they preferred to spend the money on their own marketing, not the competition's.

"We hoped our withdrawal would act as a catalyst for a review by Colorado Ski Country of its priorities, and that's exactly what happened," Aspen Skiing Co. President Pat O'Donnell said.

Aspen's defection prompted such awkward gestures as Ski Country's 1995-96 media guide, which left Aspen off the map.

"Now we're not selling Colorado skiing with an asterisk," Mr. Frew said. "It's more meaningful to corporate sponsors."

The news came as Ski Country launched its first national advertising in two ski seasons. The half-page ads started running this month in The Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

"Since Jan. 1," said the ad, "Colorado has gotten more coverage than Whitewater."

Mother Nature dumped as much as 19 feet of snow on the Colorado Rockies in January. But the news was buried in coverage of East Coast blizzards.

"We decided that we had to get the message out about how good Colorado snow really is," said Ski Country spokeswoman Rachel Biederman.

The print campaign also will run in key markets, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta and Florida.

The Integer Group, Golden, Colo. handles.

One of Mr. Frew's pet projects, a 30-minute sports feature TV show, will air across the country March 15 after the Chicago Bulls-Denver Nuggets game on cable TV's Prime Sports Network. If the pilot attracts a corporate sponsor, it could be back as a series in 1996, said a Prime Sports spokesman.

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