Strong spring season boosts nation’s skier, boarder numbers

Skiers and boarders pack the Goronno Restaurant at Telluride Ski Resort on a sunny spring day. The National Ski Areas Association announced U.S. resorts enjoyed an 11 percent increase in skier visits this past season compared with the 2011-12 season.

The National Ski Areas Association announced last week that U.S. ski areas registered an 11 percent jump in attendance this season, the largest year-over-year gain in 30 years.

The ski industry trade association said an estimated 56.6 million skiers and snowboarders visited the nation’s resorts during the 2012-13 season.

Final numbers for Colorado ski resorts haven’t been released by Colorado Ski Country USA, the state’s ski industry trade association.

Vail Resorts, which isn’t a member of Colorado Ski Country, reported its mid-April year-to-date numbers were up 5.5 percent.

“As the 2012-2013 ski season comes to a close, we are very pleased with the strong results this season,” Vail Resorts Chief Executive Officer Rob Katz said. “The growth in skier visitation continued to accelerate through spring break and the Easter holiday, which contributed to our double-digit growth in lift ticket, dining and ski-school revenues compared to the same period last year.” 

The NSAA said while some parts of the country saw a slow start to the winter season, skier and boarder numbers were boosted by a strong showing during the Christmas holiday period and the President’s Day holiday period and throughout March.

The NSAA also announced Chris Diamond, chief operating officer for Steamboat Ski & Resort, has received the NSAA’s 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Since arriving at Steamboat in 1999, Diamond played a lead role in establishing the Yampa Valley Airport Commission, overseeing a $30 million expansion and renovation of the regional airport.

Diamond also led the formation of an Urban Renewal Authority for the resort’s base area that has invested more than $20 million in base-area development, transit improvements and a heated promenade with a permanent concert stage.

A native of Easthampton, Mass., Diamond has been involved in the ski business since his youth when “lift tickets were secured after an hour’s boot-packing,” he said.

His resort experience includes stints with Killington, Mount Snow and vice president of Vermont operations for S-K-I Ltd.

Diamond moved to the Steamboat Ski Resort in 1999, shortly after that resort was purchased by the American Skiing Company, which in 1996 had purchased S-K-I Ltd.

In 2006, Canadian resort operator Intrawest Corp. purchased Steamboat from American Skiing Co. for $265 million in cash.

Diamond is a past chair of the Steamboat Chamber Resort Association and serves as a trustee for the Yampa Valley Community foundation.

He also served as a director and chairman of Colorado Ski Country USA.

“The ski industry has provided me with a wealth of incredible experiences and the opportunity to work with so many talented individuals over the years from coast to coast,” Diamond said. “This business is more than just a career; it’s a passion and way of life that I truly appreciate each and every day.”

The award was presented May 2 at NSAA’s National Convention & Tradeshow in Palm Springs, Calif.


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