National skier visits fell 5% in 2014-15

Staff report


2014-15: 53.60 million

2013-14: 56.49 million

2-12-13: 56.90 million

2011-12: 50.97 million

2010-11: 60.54 million

The U.S. ski industry estimates that this winter was its second worst since 2000-01, according to the National Ski Areas Association, a trade group.

Ski areas tallied an estimated 53.6 million skier and snowboarder visits during the 2014-15 season. That is down 5 percent from the prior season and down 3.8 percent from the five-season industry average of 55.7 million. A skier visit is counted when a lift ticket or season pass is scanned. It counts one visit for the day regardless of how many times the pass or ticket is scanned. This method is the industry’s standard measurement.

The only year that was worst than this winter over the past 15 seasons was 2011-12 with 50.97 million skier and snowboarder visits. The ski industry set a record just the season before with 60.54 million visits in 2010-11.

This season’s business was harmed by weather challenges, the association said in a statement. Snowfall was 28 percent below average nationally and even more on the West Coast. The Northeast got clobbered by numerous snowstorms that prevented city dwellers from making it to the slopes. The Midwest and East experienced frigid temperatures.

The association’s 24 years of data show this winter had the lowest snowfall on record for half the country — the Pacific Southwest, Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountains — and the second lowest overall during that period.

The season was mixed for Rocky Mountain resorts. They trailed last season’s visits but were ahead of the five-year average, according to the association.

Colorado Ski Country USA, a state ski-industry trade association, will release figures for its members at its annual June meeting. Aspen Skiing Co. releases its figures at that time. Colorado resorts set a record last season.

The National Ski Areas Association reported the Northeast and Southeast regions trailed the prior season but also paced ahead of the five-year average.

Season-pass sales were up 6.2 percent across the country compared with the previous season, according to the ski areas association. International visits were up by “double digits,” the association said in its statement.

“This was especially encouraging, because this growth occurred against the backdrop of a strong dollar, which often translates into fewer international visits,” the trade group said. “In 2014-15, international visits accounted for 6 percent of all skier visits to American ski areas, up from 5.6 percent (the prior season).”


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