local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page
 last week
 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info

 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 sv catalogs



Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of March 12 - 18, 2003


Skier numbers down slightly from last year

February decline accounts
for most of difference

Express Staff Writer

Skier numbers at Sun Valley Resort through the end of February are down slightly compared to those from the 2001-2002 ski season.

However, a solid turnout of skiers over the weekend—encouraged by significant accumulations of fresh powder on Bald Mountain—has provided some hope that a rebound could occur in late March and early April.

Skiers turned out in large numbers at Sun Valley Resort over the weekend, taking advantage of mild temperatures and several inches of fresh snow. Bald Mountain’s Warm Springs base area, above, was packed during the day Saturday when 4,041 skiers took to the slopes. On Sunday, 3,073 skiers visited Sun Valley’s ski areas. Express photo by Willy Cook

Jack Sibbach, director of marketing and public relations for Sun Valley Co., said the resort has recorded 262,619 skier days through the end of February. The figure is down from 277,903 at the same time the previous year.

Sibbach said skier numbers this season were generally on par with last year through January, but dropped by approximately 14,000 in February.

Sibbach said company officials believe that the drop can be attributed to several factors. "The economy of the Pacific Northwest has been hurt as much as any part of the country," he said. "And there is a perception that there is no snow (here)."

Despite the perception that drought has stricken the West‘s ski industry, skiers on Bald Mountain Saturday enjoyed exceptional conditions on a packed snow base of more than 60 inches.

Meanwhile, other economic indicators in Ketchum and Sun Valley have been mixed. January receipts from "local-option" sales taxes were down approximately 16 percent for the month in Ketchum compared to last year, but were up 8 percent in the city of Sun Valley.

The decline in skier days in February does not necessarily indicate an overall decline in visitors to Sun Valley, Sibbach noted. February "house counts" indicate that occupancy rates were up 2 percent over last year, he said.

Unusually cloudy, wet weather during mid-winter may have also been a factor in the drop in skier numbers during mid-winter, Sibbach added.

Overall, the various circumstances have resulted in a decline in advance reservations at Sun Valley Resort for March, Sibbach said. "We don’t anticipate a great March," he said.

Michael Berry, president of the Colorado-based National Ski Areas Association, said the ski industry overall experienced a lull in the middle of winter.

"We’re seeing a little softness as we head into the middle of March," he said, noting that some skiers may be hesitating to travel because of the possibility of war in the Middle East.

He said many major destination ski areas in the Rocky Mountains are having good years, but those in the Pacific Northwest are not faring as well. "This winter in the Pacific Northwest it’s been a tough year from a weather standpoint, so their numbers are down," he said.

Berry said the NSSA is expecting that skier numbers nationwide this season will reach—and perhaps surpass—the level they were at last year, when 54.4 million skier days were recorded.

Sun Valley recorded 405,700 skier days in the 2001-2002 season. (Skier days are calculated by adding up all skier visits to Sun Valley’s two ski mountains, including those that are made by season pass holders and skiers who use complimentary lift tickets.)

Sibbach said Sun Valley Co. is currently anticipating the skier-day total to reach 380,000 for the 2002-2003 season.

Resort officials are currently planning to offer skiing on Bald Mountain through Sunday, April 20, Sibbach said.


Ski Reports


Mountain Jobs

Formula Sports

Idaho Conservation League



Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.