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.

While most resorts reported that they were busy during the holidays, in-state skiers who often take last-minute trips haven’t been skiing as much as usual.

“We had a promising start in October with several robust storms giving resorts a solid base and allowing some to open earlier than planned,” said Colorado Ski Country USA president and CEO Melanie Mills. “But we faced inconsistencies in weather patterns for most of November and December, leading to slower visitation especially by in-state skiers at some ski areas.”

The organization doesn’t include Keystone, Breckenridge, Vail and Beaver Creek. Vail Resorts reported earlier that its skier visits were down about 15 percent, including two California resorts.

Colorado is in better shape than other parts of the country this winter, with extensive snowmaking at all major resorts that enabled them to open at least a good chunk of intermediate terrain for the holidays. That may have helped prevented an even bigger drop.

According to a press release from CSCUSA, the organization’s 22 member areas have about 80 percent of their lifts open, serving about 17,609 acres of terrain with several resorts nearly 100 percent open.

Resorts were busy over the holidays. During Christmas and New Year’s, travelers visited Colorado resorts and diversified their ski vacations with other attractions resorts offer.

“Colorado is known for our world class resorts, and part of the reason is the wide range of off-snow and non-skiing activities they offer guests,” Mills said. “When comparing this year to last year, remember that last season was exceptional, with several of our resorts breaking the 500 inch mark for snowfall, and we were skiing until the 4th of July,” Mills said. “In our weather-dependent business, we feast in the big snow years and suffer a bit when it’s dry. But we’ve got lots of the season still ahead including a bonus leap year ski day on February 29.”




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