Skiing on record pace, but Skico isn’t |

Skiing on record pace, but Skico isn’t

Scott Condon

Aspen, CO ColoradoASPEN The Colorado ski industry is on a record-setting pace so far this season, while the Aspen Skiing Co. is in position for good, but not record, numbers, according to statistics released Tuesday.The state’s 26 ski resorts logged nearly a 7 percent increase in skier and snowboarder visits between Oct. 13 and Dec. 31 compared to the same period last year, according to Colorado Ski Country USA, a state trade association. The resorts hosted 3.29 million visits during the opening months of this season. That is an increase of 207-533 visits.Destination resorts such as Aspen and Snowmass – places that depend primarily on tourists on overnight stays – recorded a 12 percent gain in visits compared to this time last winter, according to Colorado Ski Country.The Aspen Skiing Co.’s four resorts didn’t fare as well as destination resorts as a whole. The Skico was essentially dead even with last season through Dec. 31, according to spokesman Jeff Hanle. However, that’s not bad, he said, because last season was strong for the company.”We had a strong start last year; we had a strong start this year,” Hanle said.He noted that some destination resorts that tanked it at the start of last season because of poor snow conditions have enjoyed a much wetter winter so far this year. That drove the numbers up in places like Telluride and Durango. The destination resorts include Steamboat, Crested Butte, Silverton and Wolf Creek in addition to Telluride and Durango.Hanle said the Skico’s early-season numbers would have been stronger if not for a blizzard that whacked Denver and temporarily closed Denver International Airport right before Christmas. That delayed some Aspen tourists’ arrival and, in some cases, forced cancellations of trips.Colorado resorts set a record last season with 12.53 million skier and rider visits. Colorado Ski Country President and Chief Executive Officer Rob Perlman said the resorts are in position for another banner year. February and March are typically the snowiest months, and Colorado has already mined nationwide publicity for an active winter.”We are extremely pleased with our results so far, however we do have a long way to go,” Perlman said in a prepared statement.In addition to the 12 percent increase by destination resorts, Front Range destination resorts logged a 3.5 percent increase while small ski areas in the state combined to post a 10.75 percent gain over the opening third of last season, according to Colorado Ski Country.Front Range Destination resorts are Vail and Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Keystone and Winter Park. The state’s smaller resorts, which market themselves as Gems, include Arapahoe Basin, Echo Mountain, Eldora, Loveland, Monarch, Powderhorn, Ski Cooper, SolVista Basin and Sunlight.Colorado Ski Country churned out numerous statistics to gauge the opening performance this season. Among the numbers was this: The resorts as a whole are running 16 percent above the five-year average for the opening of the season through Dec. 31.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is