Friday, May 18, 2012

Skier counts fell sharply last winter

Preliminary report shows 15 percent decrease from last season


While many ski resorts had shorter seasons because of a lack of snow, snowmaking at Sun Valley Resort allowed for a full-length season in 2011-12. Photo by Mountain Express

According to a survey commissioned by the National Ski Areas Association, the U.S. ski industry last winter experienced its lowest skier/snowboarder count since the winter of 1991-92.

The preliminary 2011-12 Kottke End of Season Survey showed that U.S. ski areas tallied 51 million skier and snowboarder visits. In 1991-92, 50.8 million visits were recorded.


The 2011-12 season was also marked by the lowest national average resort snowfall since 1991-92. According to the survey, 50 percent of responding ski areas opened late this season, and 48 percent closed early. Every region experienced a decrease in overall days of operation, with particularly significant declines in the Southeast, which was down 13.9 percent. The Northeast was down 13 percent, the Pacific Southwest 11.7 percent and the Midwest 10.6 percent. More modest declines in days of operation were experienced in the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Northwest regions, with each showing a 0.8 percent decrease.

However, the survey showed that the mild weather experienced this past season fostered an excellent ski and snowboard learning environment, as evidenced by increases in lesson participation rates.

Sun Valley Resort this winter opened and closed on schedule.

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