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Colorado ski industry rebounds from pandemic season of 2019-20

Skier visits up 7.6% during 2020-21 winter, according to state trade industry report

Staff report
Skiers unload from the Ruthie’s Lift and traverse on the catwalk on Aspen Mountain on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

The ski areas that belong to a Colorado trade association reported Tuesday that their cumulative skier visits increased 7.6 percent in 2020-21 over the abbreviated prior season.

Despite the rebound, skier visits were down about 3.7 percent last winter from the five-year average, according to Colorado Ski Country USA. There was “record visitation from out-of-state visitors, modest increases in in-state visits and a sharp decline in international visits in 2020-21,” Colorado Ski County USA said in a news release.

Skiers make their way down to Ajax Express lift on Aspen Mountain on Sunday, March 21, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

While the 2019-20 season bore the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, it still impacted last winter. Ski areas operated with capacity limits. In addition, snow conditions were below normal in the early and middle season. Business picked up late as pandemic concerns eased and snow piled up.



“Despite the challenges our ski areas, our mountain communities, our employees and our guests faced throughout this COVID-impacted season, the industry is pleased with how this season turned out,” Colorado Ski Country USA President and CEO Melanie Mills said in a prepared statement.

Aspen Skiing Co. previously reported its skier visits were down between 3% and 4% from the prior season. It relies heavily on international business. Skico’s season was about 20% below its five-year average.



Colorado Ski Country doesn’t release skier visits for individual resorts. In addition, the trade association’s numbers present only a partial picture of the ski season because Vail Resorts doesn’t belong to the trade group.

When Vail’s ski areas are added to the mix, Colorado had total skier visits of about 12 million for 2020-21, Colorado Ski Country estimated. The trade association estimated business at a record 13.8 million visits in 2018-19.

Colorado Ski Country has 22 member ski areas, including the four from Aspen-Snowmass. Wolf Creek isn’t a member but reports skier visits to the association.

Skiers enjoy the warm weather on the top of Aspen Mountain on Monday morning, March 8, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

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