No business like snow business: Colorado ski season a record-breaker

When the weather cooperates, there’s no business like snow business.

Case in point: Bolstered by snow that fell early and often, the 2013-2014 ski season was the best on record in Colorado with an estimated 12.6 million skier visits.

“Seeing our visitation punch through the 12.5 million level and best our prior mark demonstrates the vibrancy of Colorado’s ski industry and the passion of our resident and visiting skiers and snowboarders,” said Melanie Mills, president and chief executive officer of Colorado Ski Country USA, a trade association of 21 resorts.

 The association reported that its 21 member resorts hosted an estimated 7.1 million skier visits during the 2013-2014 season, while total skier visits for Colorado reached 12.6 million. A skier visit represents one person participating in skiing or snowboarding for any part of one day at a resort.

Total skier visits for Colorado constituted a 10 percent increase over the season before and an 8 percent increase over the five-year average.

Colorado resorts outperformed the national industry in capturing 22 percent of the market, Mills said.

A number of factors combined to bolster skier traffic, including more positive economic news and the Winter Olympics, Mills said. But snow, and plenty of it, was the primary factor.

Early season snowfalls and cold temperatures for snowmaking operations allowed some Colorado resorts to open earlier and offer more terrain than usual, Mills said.

“We got the word out that Colorado had snow and prime winter conditions, and that helped set up a robust holiday visitation period,” she said.

Storms continued to bring snow to the Colorado mountains in January and February and then well into spring, allowing some resorts to extend their seasons or add additional weekends to their operating schedules, she added.

“Overall, it was a very positive season. We’re encouraged by the numbers are hopeful this momentum continues,” Mills said.