Breckenridge Ski Area had a banner year in 2010-2011

Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) announced during its 48th Annual Meeting last week that its 22 member resorts hosted an estimated 6.9 million skier visits during the 2010-11 ski season. This represents an increase of 2.6 percent, or approximately 179,371 skier visits, compared to last season’s final numbers. “It’s gratifying to see skier visits where they are this year,” commented Melanie Mills, president and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA. “We’re reporting a very solid season in Colorado and visits are up for the second year in a row, which tells us that the ski industry here is healthy and moving in the right direction.”

CSCUSA’s membership saw an increase in visitation from in-state and international visitors. Domestic destination skiers saw good snowfall in all parts of the U.S. this season, so those visit numbers were down slightly.

CSCUSA’s numbers don’t include the four in-state ski areas — Vail Mountain, Beaver Creek, Keystone and Breckenridge — operated by Vail Resorts, which withdrew from membership in CSCUSA in 2007. These four resorts are among the state’s most popular. It is believed that Colorado statewide skier visits eclipsed the 12 million threshold, which would be only the fourth time skier visits have reached this mark. CSCUSA estimated that statewide skier visits broke the 12 million mark by assuming that visits to these four non-CSCUSA member resorts in Colorado were up by at least the percentage increase at CSCUSA resorts, which would bring statewide total skier visits for the 2010-11 season to 12.18 million or more. However, on Thursday Vail Resorts released financial results that showed skier visits at its Colorado resort held relatively flat for the three months ending April 30.

Most resorts saw above average amounts of snowfall during this La Nina season, in some cases resulting in earlier than planned terrain openings, and in some resorts extending their seasons. “At Thanksgiving, Colorado resorts had a great deal more terrain open for skiing and riding than they typically do at that point in the season,” commented Mills. “As the season went on, some parts of the state reported more robust snowfall amounts than others, with some resorts reporting higher base amounts at the end of the season than they had in January.”

A strong start to the season, including abundant early season snow, pushed early season skier visits up by 10 percent compared to the same period the prior year. Conditions during the holidays were colder and snowier than average.

“Unusually cold temperatures on key ski weekends, and certain travel challenges that included road closures, caused visitation to slip a bit in the middle of the season, but by the end of February we were able to maintain our strongest season-to-date of the last three years,” explained Mills. Wintery conditions prevailed through spring resulting in a season that is still going strong in June. “All numbers reported are preliminary estimates as the season is still happening. Two resorts have remained open on weekends as conditions permit, Arapahoe Basin and Aspen Mountain, and continue to add to this season’s positive numbers.”

Aspen Mountain, in fact, opted to end their season on June 6.

On a national level, skier visits overall are up less than one percent with the Rocky Mountain region seeing an increase of 1.7 percent. Skier visits are the metric used to track participation in skiing and snowboarding. A skier visit represents a person participating in the sport of skiing or snowboarding for any part of one day at a mountain resort.

By First Tracks!! Online Media

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