Colorado ski resorts report dip in business

Melanie Mills
Melanie Mills

Colorado ski resorts that belong to a trade group reported a slight decline in business that corresponded with less snowfall early in the season. But the latest total for skier visits still tops the five-year average.

“These end of season numbers are impressive when looking back over the entire season,” said Melanie Mills, president and chief executive officer of Colorado Ski Country USA. “We faced historically low snowfall in the early part of the season, and resort operations crews deserve credit for their tireless work to get slopes open and operating during an extended period of early season conditions.”

The 24 resorts of the trade group reported a total of 7.1 million skier visits during the 2017-2018 ski season. A skier visit represents one person skiing or snowboarding for any part of one day. Powderhorn Mountain Resort on the Grand Mesa east of Grand Junction is among the member resorts.

The latest total falls 2 percent short of the 7.3 million skier visits recorded during the 2016-2017 season, but also comes in 5 percent higher than the five-year average.

A good season is important not only for the ski industry in Colorado, but also the economy. According to a study conducted in 2015, the industry contributes $4.8 billion annually to the state economy and supports the equivalent of more than 46,000 year-round jobs.

Mills said timely storms during the December holiday period and significant snow totals in advance of both the Martin Luther King and President’s Day weekends improved skiing conditions. Many resorts experienced their best snow conditions in late March and early April and welcomed more guests over the Easter holiday.

“Timely storms before the busy holiday weekends marked the middle of the season before the snow switch turned fully to on in February,” Mills said. “There was exuberant pent-up demand and skiers and snowboarders flocked to the slopes in the latter half of the season, allowing resorts to finish on a strong note.”

“This year’s season won’t be remembered as the state’s snowiest, but it is a testament to the resiliency of Colorado’s ski industry and our employees’ commitment to providing the highest guest service and best overall ski experience that keeps visitors coming back to Colorado Ski Country resorts every year,” Mills said.