Skier visits down across Colorado |

Skier visits down across Colorado

Aspen Times Staff Report
Aspen, CO Colorado
Jordan Curet/The Aspen TimesSnowmass skier Dave Elkan launches off The Buckle, just below AMF at Snowmass, in mid-January. Skier numbers across the state were down through December, according to Colorado Ski Country USA.

DENVER ” The Colorado ski industry is off to a tough start this winter. Skier visits across the state were down 7.7 percent through December, Colorado Ski Country USA reported Friday.

The group but didn’t detail the number of people who hit the slopes.

The decrease, compared to last winter, reflects skier numbers at 22 Colorado ski resorts that are members of the statewide ski area trade organization, including the four resorts at Aspen-Snowmass, but the decline does not take into account skier visits at Vail Resorts’ four Colorado ski areas, including Vail and Beaver Creek. Vail Resorts pulled out of Colorado Ski Country last year.

The drop in the ski season’s early going was for the period from Oct. 15 through Dec. 31. The numbers don’t include the New Year’s holiday weekend, which began Thursday, Jan. 1, when some resorts experienced “high, and in some cases, record volumes of guests,” according to Ski Country.

However, Vail Resorts reported its skier visits were down 6 percent through Jan. 4.

The Aspen Skiing Co. reported its business was down 8 percent after New Year’s week and has projected its numbers will be down 5 to 15 percent by the end of the season, compared to last winter, given the state of the economy.

Though business was down through December, the skier visits posted in the first part of the ski season exceeded expectations, said Melanie Mills, president and CEO of Colorado Ski Country, in a press release.

And, first-period skier visit numbers do not necessarily predict skier visit totals for the season, the trade group noted. During the 2007-’08 season, for example, skier visits were down for the first period and the season total was the second best on record.

Snowfall continues to be a key factor affecting skier visits, according to Ski Country, though visits were down during a December that produced record snowfall at Silverton, Crested Butte and Telluride, the organization said.

Aspen and Snowmass, and resorts around the state, were blessed with copious snowfall last month. Aspen Mountain recorded 97 inches of snow in December 2008, compared to 98 inches in the same month in 2007.

Skier visits are the metric used to track participation in skiing and snowboarding. A skier visit represents one person skiing or snowboarding for any part of one day at a mountain resort.

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