No business like snow business: Ski resorts report record season

Melanie Mills

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

Colorado ski resorts that belong to a trade group reported a 13 percent increase in total skier visits during a season with plentiful snowfall statewide. The timing worked well given the new lifts and other facilities resorts opened.

“The 2018-2019 season was one for the history books,” said Melanie Mills, president and chief executive officer of Colorado Ski Country USA. “Not only did the industry set a new record for skier visits, but there were substantial investments in capital improvements across our member resorts and snowfall was plentiful across the entire state.”

The 23 member resorts of the trade group reported a 13 percent increase in total skier visits over last year and a nearly 12 percent increase over the five-year average. Using publicly available information, Colorado Ski Country USA projected a record 13.8 million skier visits statewide.

An industry metric used to track participation, a skier visits represents one person skiing or snowboarding for any part of one day.

The latest numbers bode well not only for the ski industry in Colorado, but also the economy. By one estimate, the ski industry contributes $4.8 billion annually to the economy and supports the equivalent of more than 46,000 year-round jobs.

Colorado received significant snowfall throughout the season with record or near record totals in February and March that enabled some resorts to extend the season.

Colorado ski resorts opened a total of six new chairlifts. Leitner-Poma, a cable transportation manufacturer based in Grand Junction, was involved with five of the lifts, including those at Copper Mountain and Winter Park.

Ski resorts also opened five new restaurants and a new hotel.

Powderhorn Mountain Resort on the Grand Mesa east of Grand Junction reported increased season pass sales under a discounted program branded “Mission: Affordable.”

“Colorado Ski Country member ski areas have shown a commitment to improving and enhancing the guest experience with new lifts, new restaurants, new lodging properties and new activities and offerings,” Mills said. “Combined with a long, strong season and geographically diverse snowfall, our members were able to deliver a record-setting year.”