Plentiful snow helps boost early skier numbers

Colorado’s ski resorts are reporting double digit snowfalls, which has help[ed boost skier vists in the early part of the season. Here, a skier takes off into some of the 200-plus inches of snow that has fallen at Steamboat.

It’s really no mystery why Colorado ski areas are reporting positive numbers for the early part of the 2013-14 ski season.

According to Colorado Ski Country USA, every resort in the state can boast of new snow, with several resorts already reporting 200 or more inches of snow for the season.

Among the resorts reporting snow in the triple digits are Steamboat Ski Resort with 225 inches as of Wednesday, followed by Wolf Creek and Vail, both at 167 inches, and 131 inches reported at Telluride and Crested Butte.

That’s the topper on an early season (mid-October through Dec. 31) that saw skier and rider visits jump 22 percent over the previous year and exceeded the five-year average by 6.7 percent, according to Colorado Ski Country, a ski-industry trade association representing 21 Colorado resorts.

“Riding momentum from last spring and buoyed by early-season snow this fall, the season got off to a very positive start,” said Melanie Mills, Colorado Ski Country president and CEO. “While we’ve set a brisk pace, there is still a lot of ski season left. With such wonderful conditions we’re optimistic that the momentum will continue.”

Vail Resorts, which isn’t a member of Colorado Ski Country, is reporting early skier visits as up 7.4 percent at its five Colorado and Utah mountain resorts. Tellingly, total skier visits overall at Vail Resorts was down 0.7 percent because of a 23.4 percent drop in visits at the snow-starved Tahoe resorts.

“Unfortunately, conditions in Tahoe have been very poor with snowfall down approximately 85 percent,” said Rob Katz, CEO for Vail Resorts.

Colorado’s overall early success was predicated on a “deluge of early season snow (that) allowed several resorts to open early and open more terrain and lifts than is typically available in the beginning of the season,” Colorado Ski Country reported.

Powderhorn Mountain Resort was able to capitalize on the preseason excitement by opening a week early, a key move in capturing local skiers and riders eager for the new ski season.

“Those early snow conditions helped us open early, and we have been able to maintain those great conditions,” said Dave H. Smith, marketing manager for Powderhorn Resort. “We haven’t been getting the big storms, but instead we’re getting a few inches every couple of days, which keeps the conditions in great shape.”

The resort received 16 inches of snow from the last storm cycle, and Wednesday it was reporting a 50-inch midway base.

Erica Mueller, spokeswoman for Crested Butte Mountain Resort, said that resort saw an increase of 14 percent from last year in both lodging and ticket sales in the period just before Christmas to just after New Year’s.


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