Colorado resorts feel the pain of low-snow year

Powder days were few and far between at Colorado ski areas. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

Visits at Colorado Ski Country USA resorts drop by 790,000 from last season during dry winter

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Skier visits at Colorado Ski Country USA resorts dropped by about 790,000 from last year, mainly because of sparse and inconsistent snowfall, according to industry leaders gathered for the trade group’s annual meeting.

Early snow helped some resorts open ahead of schedule, but the heart of the winter was dry, and visitation dwindled, especially during the crucial spring season, when March was reported as one of the driest winter months on record.

“Fortunately, seasons such as the one just ended have proved to be historically rare and the ski industry has exhibited a remarkable ability to bounce back after poor snow years in the past,” said CSCUSA president and CEO Melanie Mills. Continue reading

Colorado early season skier visits down 10 percent

Low snow keeps local skiers home

A season that started with a lot of promise early has experienced some low-snow hiccups.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Early season skier visits in Colorado are down about 10 percent from last winter, the state’s 22-member trade association reported this week, attributing the drop to variable snow conditions.

The early season period covers opening day through Dec. 31. Skier visits are the metric used to track participation in skiing and snowboarding. A skier visit represents a person participating in the sport of skiing or snowboarding for any part of one day at a mountain resort. Continue reading

Colorado: Powderhorn ski area to be sold at auction

Small area near Grand Junction has seen its share of financial ups and downs

Powderhorn Ski Area is located on the Grand Mesa, near Grand Junction, Colorado.

Powderhorn trail map.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — It’s not every day that a ski area goes up for sale, but Powderhorn, a small family oriented area on the Grand Mesa, near Grand Junction, is heading to the auction block August 4.

The property for sale includes four ski lifts, about 750 acres of real estate, a lodge with 16 guest rooms, as well as the mountain operations building, equipment maintenance facility, dry storage building and an administrative building. The ski area includes 600 acres of maintained terrain spread over 44 trails on national forest lands. Continue reading

Colorado skier visits up a hair from last winter

A snowboarder at Arapahoe Basin, Summit County, Colorado.

A snowboarder launches off The Nose at Arapahoe Basin. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

Spring surge helps bolster up and down season

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —  Colorado’s ski areas saw a slight uptick in skier visits for the season, Colorado Ski Country USA, the state’s ski industry trade group announced at its annual meeting in Denver, reporting an estimated 6.74 million skier visits during the 2009-10 ski season.

That’s up about .4 percent, or 29,000 skier visits from a year ago, an increase that’s equivalent to about one-and-a-half busy days at Vail, a ski area that is not a member of Colorado Ski Country USA.

“We’re pleased visitation is up even if only by a nose,” said Melanie Mills, president and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA. “We held our own in attracting the destination skier, and even with the challenges the travel industry still faces, we found that several indicators are moving in the right direction.” Continue reading

Vail Resorts says ski biz bounced back in spring

Vail Resorts numbers bounced-back to pre-recession levels during the spring season.

Skier visits up, spring Epic Pass sales down and slow real estate sales mark VR’s third-quarter earnings report

By Summit Voice


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SUMMIT COUNTY — Skier visits and revenue during the 2010 spring break and Easter holiday periods rebounded to pre-recession levels at Vail Resorts’ four Colorado ski areas, company chairman and CEO Rob Katz said Wednesday in a press release, adding that the uptick gives some confidence that consumer trends are improving as ski resorts start planning for next season.

Vail released the numbers as part of its fiscal year 2010 third-quarter earning report. Destination visitation was up by 7.9 percent, while ski school, rental and retail revenue also showed double-digit increases. Heavenly Valley saw the biggest jump in skier visits, jumping 98.8 percent from the previous poor-snow season. Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone combined saw skier visits climb 3.7 percent from the previous year. Continue reading

USFS denies Crested Butte expansion appeal

Trail map of Crested Butte Mountain Resort

A bid to expand Crested Butte was denied by the U.S. Forest Service, but the Forest Supervisor could overturn the decision. The undersecretary in charge of the Forest Service is Harris Sherman, an attorney who favored expansions at Vail Resorts when he worked in the private sector in Colorado.

Controversial plan reached top levels of Forest Service, ski industry and Congress

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service is sticking with its decision to deny an expansion of Crested Butte Mountain Resort on to nearby Snodgrass Mountain.

Deputy Regional Forester James M. Peña announced his decision in a May 6 letter to the resort owners, saying the record is full of contradictory evidence regarding the merits of the plan, and said that Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnision National Forest Supervisor Charlie Richmond, who initially denied the expansion plan, “(D)id not violate law, regulation, or agency policy nor was it arbitrary or capricious, and was fully within his broad discretionary authority.”

See the entire letter in a Scribd.com window at the end of the story.

Peña also said he is requiring Richmond to provide guidance on how Crested Butte “should submit a proposal to provide downhill skiing in the context of (forest plan) direction that the authorized officer would find acceptable,” or to initiate a revision of the plan to modify the ski area zoning for the area. Continue reading

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