U.S. ski resorts rack up 53.9 million skier and snowboarder visits

Staff report
U.S. Ski Team athlete Sam Morse decends Face of Bell on Aspen Mountain in March. The Aspen-Snowmass slopes received snow before spring break to create a strong end to the season.
Aspen Times file photo |

The U.S. ski industry eked out an increase in skier and snowboarder visits during the 2015-16 season despite poor snow conditions in the eastern half of the country.

Ski areas generated an estimated 53.9 million visits, up from 53.6 million the prior season, according to the National Ski Areas Association, an industry trade group. The estimate was based on the annual Kottke Survey commissioned by the organization.

Skier and snowboarder visits are a basic metric used to gauge ski-industry business.

The record season was 2010-11, when 60.5 million visits were recorded. The low was 51 million visits in 2011-12.

This season’s tally was 4.6 percent below the 10-year industry average of 56.5 million.

Even though this year wasn’t a record overall, it was a record for the Rocky Mountain Region, which includes Aspen and the other Colorado resorts. The region was up 8 percent over last season, the ski association reported. The Rocky Mountain Region includes Utah, Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico and Idaho in addition to Colorado.

“Even more impressive was the amazing rebound on the West Coast,” NSAA said in a statement. “The Pacific Northwest Region (Alaska, Washington, Oregon) saw a stunning increase of 142 percent in skier visits over the drought-plagued season last year, more than doubling from 2 million visits in 2014-15 to almost 5 million visits this season.” It was the best season in the 38 years of the Kottke Survey.

The Pacific Southwest Region of California, Arizona and Nevada increased 53 percent over last season.

Resort regions in the Northeast, Midwest and Southeast were all down from the prior season.

Aspen Skiing Co. reported a 7.5 percent jump in skier and snowboarder visits through February. Full-season statistics will be released when Colorado Ski Country USA, a state ski-industry trade association, holds its annual conference in June.


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