Colorado skier visits increase 10 percent through December |

Colorado skier visits increase 10 percent through December

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO Colorado
Jeremy Swanson/Aspen Skiing Co.Skier visits in Colorado were up 10 percent through December, according to Colorado Ski Country USA. Powder on Aspen Mountain in December helped boost local skier visits by 7 percent for the month.

ASPEN – The performance by the Colorado ski industry as a whole outpaced the Aspen Skiing Co. during the start of the season, a report released Wednesday shows.

Colorado Ski Country USA, an industry association, said skier visits for its 22 members were up 10 percent through December compared to the same period last season.

The Skico reported last week that its skier visits were up 7 percent through December compared to the prior season.

Abundant early season snow allowed many state resorts to open more terrain earlier than usual. The opening day for some resorts was Oct. 24. November brought more heavy snow, which enticed skiers and riders to hit the slopes.

“Consistent snow and reliable conditions contributed to a very positive start to the season,” Melanie Mills, president and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA, said in a statement. “There is a lot of ski season left but we’ve set a good pace, have great snow conditions and hope the momentum continues.”

Vail Resorts isn’t part of Colorado Ski Country, so its four ski areas aren’t factored in to Ski Country’s tabulations. The resort operator reported earlier this month that skier visits at Vail Mountain, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone – as well as two resorts outside the state – were up 10 percent through Jan. 6.

Skier visits are the industry’s metric used to track participation in skiing and snowboarding. A skier visit represents a person skiing or snowboarding for any part of one day at a mountain resort.

Colorado Ski Country officials said the good snow conditions helped generate strong business during Christmas. The growth over last season probably would have been even greater if not for bitterly cold temperatures rolling into the state on New Year’s Eve day, according to local and state ski industry officials. That was expected to be one of the busiest days of the holiday period, but many skiers and riders stayed off the mountains instead.

Lodging occupancy at 15 major mountain destination resorts in the western U.S. was up almost 9 percent in December compared to the previous year, according to Mountain Travel Research Program, or MTRiP. It was the fourth consecutive month with a year-over-year increase.

“Continued signs of strength in the economy, combined with good early snow, gave most of the ski and snowboard resorts a much happier holiday this year,” said Ralf Garrison, director of MTRiP. “Based on these positive trends from the past few months and the current pace of future reservations, the prospect of a happier New Year is considerably more promising than last year but is certainly not a guarantee.”

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