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Skier-day analysis

As the saying goes, if you choose the right data set and analyze it over the right time frame, you can prove almost anything.

There has been discussion in our valley in recent weeks about the down trend in the skier-day count, with emphasis on Snowmass. Often the great snow and business year of 1997-1998 is used for comparison. Perhaps in a pessimistic mood, one compares the best year with the worst year and one finds a decline of 23 per cent, making Snowmass look bad. That is inappropriate analysis.

Here is a better way, avoiding comparisons with single years, using averages instead. The trick is which group of years you place the big 1997-1998 year into for comparison. So, let us do it both ways. The basic data is from Skico, and the analysis spreadsheet is on the Website http://www.snowmasscitizens.com. First compare 1993 through 1997 to 1997 through 2003. Snowmass is down 2.3 percent, the other three area mountains together are down 3.3 percent. Then compare 1993 through 1998 to 1998 through 2003. Snowmass is down 8.7 percent, the other three are down 5.6 per cent.

Now if one defines an industry narrowly as Aspen-Snowmass plus Beaver Creek, Copper, Breckenridge, and Whistler, the industry is up 10 percent to 12 percent on the same basis as the above calculations. So Aspen-Snowmass looks bad on that comparison. It would be much better to have full industry numbers, as otherwise this comparison may not be appropriate. I understand that the entire destination ski industry is down, and the nearby, less expensive industry is up, but complete figures have not been provided by Skico or Snowmass Town Council.

Now looking just at Aspen and Snowmass, Snowmass’ decline is slightly worse, but not dramatic compared to Aspen. Both need help. The range of solutions is: better product, better pricing, better marketing, great snow, no recession, no terrorists, no war and no airline bankruptcies. Let us go for all eight.

Jim Heywood

Snowmass Village


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