Skier visits dip in Aspen, Colorado in 2014-15 |

Skier visits dip in Aspen, Colorado in 2014-15

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times

The 21 ski resorts that belong to the state trade group Colorado Ski Country USA reported Thursday that their skier visits for 2014-15 were down less than one-half percent from the prior season’s record.

Skier and snowboarder visits totaled 7.1 million, the association reported. That is up about 6.5 percent from the five-year average for Colorado Ski Country members.

“We’re thrilled with this year’s numbers, especially in a season that saw snow totals that were 36 percent below the 10-year average during the core of the ski season,” said Colorado Ski Country President and CEO Melanie Mills in a statement.

The trade group’s statement said the state’s total skier visits weren’t available because non-member resorts didn’t release their numbers. Vail Resorts doesn’t belong to Colorado Ski Country because of a disagreement over marketing strategies. Therefore, the numbers don’t include Vail Mountain, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone.

Aspen Skiing Co. reported that skier visits at Snowmass — which logs the most business of its four ski areas — were down 3 percent. Snowfall was down 20 percent at Snowmass.

Overall, Skico’s visits were down 2 percent from the prior season, according to spokesman Jeff Hanle. He noted that Skico opened some slopes early and closed later than scheduled the prior season because of above average snowfall.

“We had a good season despite some challenging weather,” Hanle said. “Destination visits were strong, but we saw less pass usage this year, likely due to perceived conditions. Our destination guests enjoyed the sunshine and great coverage, but our locals like to get out in force on powder days, and those were not as plentiful as they could have been.”

Destination business comes from travelers who stay overnight. They are the bread-and-butter customers for Skico.

Skico’s business pattern is consistent with Colorado Ski Country USA’s findings. In-state skiers didn’t hit the slopes in the usual strong numbers early in the season because of unseasonably warm temperatures.

“Not surprisingly, we saw an increase in the destination visitor sector, a reduction in in-state visits and widespread gains in skier spending across all categories,” Mills said in her statement.

Nationally, the ski industry took its lumps in 2014-15. Ski areas tallied an estimated 53.6 million skier and snowboarder visits. That was down 5 percent from the prior season and down 3.8 percent from the five-season industry average of 55.7 million.

Low snowfall in parts of the country, particularly in California, received part of the blame.


See more