OUT: Good snow draws skiers in spite of downhill economy

SARAH ALLEN, Powderhorn Resort communications director, enjoys a view of the resort from midway down Tenderfoot. The resort offers two new expert-level trails, part of a master plan approved 10 years ago.

In the winter of 2007-2008, skiers and snowboarders piled onto the nation’s ski slopes in record numbers. More than 60.5 million visits were recorded, thanks in great part to a
bountiful snow year and an equally bountiful economy.

According to the National Ski Areas Association, an industry trade group, the Rocky Mountian Region last winter saw a 45 percent increase in skier visits, a trend that continued this fall thanks to early snow.

While this year the snow and the money might be a bit less abundant, skier visits are still strong. December snowstorms lured skiers and boarders to ski resorts big and small, and nearly every resort, with an eye to the sagging economy, made bargains and offered deals to make sure their guests found something they could afford.

But even deals come second to Mother Nature.

“Our numbers were really strong for December,” said Sarah Allen, Powderhorn communications director. “Snow trumps everything, even the economy.”

There’s no reason not to expect skier numbers to stay strong, said Michael Berry, president of the Lakewood-based National Ski Areas Association, a ski industry trade group.

“Last year was an all-time record and we’ve been up 15 percent over the last six, seven or eight years,” Berry said. “We probably won’t set a record this year, but the impacts from the economy won’t be nearly as much as everybody thinks.

“It’s been a great winter all over the country and great snow trumps the economy,” he said, echoing Sarah Allen’s words. “People will find a way to take their vacations.”

Skier and boarder numbers also are being boosted by the 70-million strong Millennial Generation, the oldest of whom just turned 30.

“The demographics are working well for us right now,” Berry said. “We’re hanging on the Baby Boom generation and their kids and now we have their grandkids, a three-generation skier base. If you look back to 1980, it was all one generation, now it’s three.”


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