Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) announced today at the association’s 51st Annual Meeting that statewide skier visits totaled an estimated 12.6 million for the 2013/14 ski season, thereby making it the best season on record in the state. This estimation shows Colorado being up more than 10 percent compared to last season and more than 8 percent compared to the five-year-average.
“Seeing our visitation punch through the 12.5 million level and best our prior mark demonstrates the vibrancy of Colorado’s ski industry and the passion of our resident and visiting skiers and snowboarders,” stated Melanie Mills, president & CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA. “With two consecutive years of growth, momentum is certainly in our favor as our resorts continue to set the industry standard in terms of snow quality, skier safety and guest service.”
Colorado resorts outperformed the ski industry nationally, which saw the Pacific regions heavily impacted by drought. Colorado resorts also bested the growth rate of 6.4 percent in the Rocky Mountain region of the U.S. where snow conditions were more comparably favorable.
“Owning 22 percent of the national skier market speaks volumes to the reputation of our state as the top ski destination. Visitors choose to come here because of what our resorts have to offer; superior skiing, easy access, resorts of every variety, and resort staff who provide unparalleled guest service,” said Mills.
CSCUSA’s 21 member resorts hosted an estimated 7.1 million skier visits during the 2013/14 ski season despite having faced challenges with skier traffic on state roadways and sensationalized media hype surrounding the new recreational marijuana law.
“From the start of the season Colorado was in the national spotlight as media focused on the snow and the legalization of marijuana. All eyes were on the ski industry as the two stories unfolded during the ski season,” explained Mills.
Abundant early season snowfall and ideal snowmaking conditions in the fall prompted an October 13, 2013 opening for Colorado’s ski season. As snowfall continued, some resorts opened earlier than planned and opened more terrain earlier than usual.
“By Thanksgiving the ski season was off on a brisk pace backed by excellent early season conditions,” said Mills. “We got the word out that Colorado had snow and prime winter conditions, and that helped set up a robust holiday visitation period.”
In January and February, snow storms continued and were widespread across the state. During this time several factors kept visitors engaged in skiing and snowboarding: ideal snow conditions, enjoyable winter temperatures, positive economic news and the Winter Olympics.
“A variety of things came together to fuel mid-season visits and the results had major ski weekends bustling with guests, particularly Martin Luther King and President’s Day,” commented Mills.
Snowfall continued well into spring and bolstered Easter visitation despite the unfavorable late calendar date of the holiday. Healthy conditions allowed many resorts to extend their season or add additional weekends to their operating schedule.
“Overall it was a very positive season, we’re encouraged by the numbers and are hopeful this momentum continues,” said Mills.
During the course of the 2013/14 season Colorado resorts highlighted the importance of skier safety, resorts’ top priority, in several ways including by participating in National Safety Awareness Month. Additionally, several CSCUSA resorts were recognized for their safety programs as recipients of the 2013/14 National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) Safety Awards including: Steamboat Ski Resort for Best Use of New/Social Media and Copper Mountain for Best Terrain Park Safety Program.
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. These numbers are preliminary results and subject to final adjustments by CSCUSA members. The decision to release individual numbers is up to each individual resort.