Colorado skier visits continue rise in ‘14

Colorado ski resorts continued a strong upward trend in skier visits in the first two months of 2014, according to Colorado Ski Country USA, a ski-industry trade group.

The group’s 21 member resorts reported skier visits were up 8.6 percent from Jan. 1 through Feb. 28 as compared with the same period last year.

“Following a strong start to the season, momentum carried through the first of the year as skiers and riders took advantage of our snowy conditions here in Colorado,” said Melanie Mills, president and CEO of Colorado Ski Country.

Vail Resorts, which is not a member of Colorado Ski Country, earlier reported a jump of 11.9 percent in skier visits at its four ski areas in Colorado — Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone — in the three months ending Jan. 31.

Mills pointed to several key factors, including the 2014 Winter Olympics, as contributing to a 13 percent boost in overall visitations over last year.

“Several factors contributed to the season-to-date bump, including incredible conditions, consistent snowfall, enjoyable winter temperatures and positive economic news,” she said. “Also, an Olympic year always tends to generate excitement around skiing and snowboarding, Colorado’s signature sports.”

Powderhorn Mountain Resort marketing manager Dave H. Smith said local skiers took advantage of bountiful snow and moderate temperatures to boost that resort’s skier numbers in January and February.

“The skiing has been great, and we certainly are up over last year,” Smith said during a telephone conversation Monday. “The snow cover has been wonderfully consistent, and right now we’re sitting on a 70-inch base, almost 6 feet of snow.”

Helping those numbers was the response to the resort’s popular $15 Friday, when lift tickets go for $15 from 3 to 6 p.m.

Smith said the reception was so positive the offer has been extended to include Saturdays for the rest of the season.

The special $15 ticket will be in effect from 3 to 6 p.m. both days.

With spring officially one day away, Smith said there still is plenty of skiing ahead.

“I urge people to come up and take advantage of the great conditions. There is plenty of time later for mountain biking,” he said. “Wait until it’s really hot this summer, and people will be saying, ‘I wish I had spent more time skiing.’ “

Smith said the resort is slated to close March 30 but may delay that a few days. A decision is expected this week, he said.

This weekend, Powderhorn Resort will host the USSA Rocky Mountain Division U-12 championships with more than 200 athletes participating.

Saturday will feature a giant slalom, with races at 9:15 and 10:30 a.m. and 1:15 and 2:40 p.m.; and Sunday features a slalom with races at the same times.

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