State’s skier numbers are still down |

State’s skier numbers are still down

Colorado’s ski resorts haven’t been able to bounce back from adreadful start to the season. The 25 members of Colorado Ski Country USA, a state trade association,posted a 5 1/2 percent decrease in customer visits through Februarycompared to the same point last season, the organization announcedThursday. Skier and snowboard rider visits were estimated at 7.29 millionthrough the end of last month. That’s about 420,000 fewer customersthan at the same point last season. The performance improved since the end of December. Business wasdown about 11 percent at that time, according to Colorado SkiCountry. Last year, Colorado’s resorts logged a record of nearly 12 millioncustomer visits throughout the season. “We certainly don’t expect to top that number,” said Ski Countryspokeswoman Barbara Jennings. “You can’t set a record every year.”Business is down this season for all three classifications ofColorado resorts: Front Range, Front Range destination, and destination.The Aspen Skiing Co. mountains are among the destination resorts.Collectively, they have been among the hardest hit this season,according to Jennings. Colorado Ski Country declined to release statistics for individualresorts. It won’t do so until its annual convention in June. Aspen Skiing Co. Senior Vice President John Norton disclosed Wednesdaythat overall business was down 12 percent at the company’s fourmountains and tourist visits were off 14 1/2 percent. Vail Resorts spokesman Paul Witt declined to disclose figuresfor the company’s four mountains: Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridgeand Keystone. Collectively they were down 3 percent at the end of January, accordingto the publicly traded firm’s quarterly report. However, skiervisits may have been boosted by the sale of cheap season passesand at the expense of profits. Breckenridge and Keystone were among the resorts that got intoa price war at the start of the season. Resorts sold “buddy passes”for as low as $200 per person. Although Vail Resort’s collective skier visits were down only3 percent at the end January, earnings were down 36 percent, accordingto The Associated Press. Improving snow conditions in January and February were creditedwith drawing Front Range residents who bought buddy passes outto the slopes.

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