Aspen Skiing Co. has started the season with a pow — as in powder.
Skico’s skier visits are up 20 percent through Dec. 31 compared to last season, spokesman Jeff Hanle said Monday.
“It was a good early start,” Hanle said. “This is great news.”
Excellent snow conditions from storms in October and November allowed Skico to open Aspen Mountain and Snowmass earlier than scheduled. That helped the company get a jump on last season.
“We saw a huge surge in passholder business,” said Hanle. Skiers and snowboarders from the Roaring Fork Valley took advantage of the frequent powder days in late November and December and hit the slopes often. Last season, the opposite was true. Snowfall was sparse until February.
Skico recorded increased skier visits at each of its four ski areas — Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk — during the first reporting period, Hanle said.
Colorado Ski Country USA, a state trade association, reported Monday that skier visits were up 22 percent so far this season for its 21 member resorts. Skier visits were measured from Oct. 13 through Dec. 31.
This year’s start exceeded Colorado Ski Country member resorts’ five-year first reporting period average by about 6.7 percent, the association said.
Vail Resorts doesn’t belong to Colorado Ski Country USA, so the figures don’t include the performances of Vail Mountain, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge or Keystone.
However, the strong start doesn’t guarantee a record season for Skico or Colorado Ski Country members. Because the period being examined is so short, a strong performance can skew the percentage increase. A more accurate gauge of the season will come at the end of February.
A skier visit is defined as a paid visit to a resort for a full or half day.
Hanle said Skico also recorded a single-digit percentage increase in business during the Christmas and New Year’s Day period. That’s impressive, he said, because the holidays are generally busy, so any gain one season to the next is difficult. Skico logged close to 20,000 skier visits on its four ski areas for four days during the holidays, Hanle said in a previous interview.
“We saw a huge surge in passholder business.”
Jeff Hanle, Aspen Skiing Co.