State, Aspen skier visits dip slightly during second period |

State, Aspen skier visits dip slightly during second period

ASPEN – Business went slightly downhill for the Aspen Skiing Co. and members of a Colorado ski industry trade group during January and February, the organizations said Friday.

Colorado Ski Country USA said skier visits at its 22 members resorts were down by almost 1 percent in January and February compared to last season. The Aspen Skiing Co. also said its business was “down slightly” during those two months.

Colorado Ski Country reports its members collective gains or losses three times per season: once after December, once after February and at season’s end. Skico follows suit. Neither release actual numbers, just percentages. Colorado Ski Country USA leaves it up to individual members whether or not they release their business numbers.

Despite the losses in January and February, the season-to-date performance through February was better than last season thanks to a strong December. “We are still up for the season by approximately 2 percent,” Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle said.

The Skico was sitting on a 7 percent increase in skier visits as of the end of December. A calendar shift moved big ski days, like Mardi Gras and Carnival, from February to March this season, Hanle noted. That meant some of the business the company reaped during the second reporting period last season will be reflected in March’s numbers this season.

“So far March is looking strong and we are making slow but steady gains,” Hanle said.

Colorado Ski Country’s members remained 3.4 percent ahead of last season’s pace through February. The season-to-date performance is the strongest its been for members of the trade association since the 2007-08 season, according to Melanie Mills, president and CEO of Colorado Ski County USA.

After the strong start to the season, some challenges during the second period ate into the gains, the trade association reported. “During certain peak ski weekends, including the New Year’s weekend, Colorado experienced unusually cold temperatures,” the organization said in a press release. “Also during key ski holidays and weekends, visitors were faced with trying travel situations including a rock slide that blocked Highway 50 for extended periods of time, pass closures and ongoing congestion and delays on I-70.”

In addition, good snow conditions at resorts throughout the country translated into fewer travelers taking destination trips to Colorado, the organization said.

Colorado Ski Country USA’s report didn’t include Vail Resorts’ four ski areas in the state. Vail Resorts doesn’t belong to the trade association.

Vail Resorts reported earlier this month that its season-to-date skier visits at its six resorts were up 4.4 percent through March 6. That includes Vail Mountain, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado plus Heavenly and Northstar-at-Tahoe, which it acquired in October. The comparison was adjusted as if Northstar-at-Tahoe was owned in both periods.

Vail Resorts reported its lift ticket revenue was up 7.5 percent. Revenues from ski school shot up 10.4 percent.

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