May 12, 2011
12:00 PMGetting Out & About
U.S. skier visits climb to 2d-best total on record
Solid snowfall helped bring skier U.S. visits up to near record levels for the 2010-2011 season.
SUMMIT COUNTY — Good snowfall and a long season helped boost skier visits nationwide to 60.1 million, the second-highest total ever behind the record-breaking 2007-2008 season.
It’s only the second time that the total has passed the 60-million mark, according to a press release from the National Ski Areas Association. The preliminary tally represents a 0.6 percent increase from last season’s 59.8 million skier visits.
Solid snowfall throughout the season may have been a big factor, the trade group said. snowfall was up 27 percent on average around the country, with only the southeast region seeing a drop in precipitation.
The biggest snowfall increases came in the Pacific Southwest region (43 percent), the Northeast (37 percent) and the Rockies (31 percent). Snowfall was up 26 percent over last year in the Midwest, and 9 percent in the Pacific Northwest, but down by 42 percent in the Southeast, reflecting a typical La Niña weather pattern.
Skier visits grew 4 percent in the Northeast, 1.7 percent in the Rockies, 1 percent in the Midwest and 0.3 percent in the Pacific Northwest. Skier visits dropped by 5 percent in the Pacific Southwest region and 3.6 percent in the Southeast.
The season totals were about 4 percent above industry’s 10-year average. Similar increases were reported in Colorado, where Vail Resorts recently announced that its skier visits (including two resorts in California) were up 3.9 percent over last winter.
Colorado Ski Country USA, the trade group that represents the rest of the state’s resorts, reported a mixed season, with an increase early in the winter, then a slight drop in the middle of the season that was attributed to weather and transportation issues.
The organization’s 22 member resorts have seen skier visits range from about 6.4 million in 2001-2002 to as high as 7.3 million in 2007-2008. The past two seasons, skier visits held steady at about 6.7 million.