Trade group: Ski season off to good start

Heavy snowfalls attracted more skiers and snowboarders to Colorado resorts during the early part of the latest season, including the Wolf Creek Ski Area near Pagosa Springs. (Photo courtesy Colorado Ski Country USA)
Heavy snowfalls attracted more skiers and snowboarders to Colorado resorts during the early part of the latest season, including the Wolf Creek Ski Area near Pagosa Springs. (Photo courtesy Colorado Ski Country USA)

The ski season is off to a comparatively good start in Colorado thanks to early season snowstorms and strong holiday bookings, a trade association reports.

Combined skier visits to resorts that belong to Colorado Ski Country USA were up 10 percent for the period between Oct. 29 and Dec. 31 compared to the same period in 2014.

Skier visits during the first period of the latest ski season also topped the five-year average by 13 percent, making it the third consecutive year early season visitation has exceeded the five-year average.

Colorado Ski Country USA represents 21 resorts, including Powderhorn Mountain Resort east of Grand Junction. One skier visit represents a person participating in skiing or snowboarding for any part of one day.

Melanie Mills, president and chief executive officer of Colorado Ski Country USA, attributed the increase in skier visits to good conditions and expectations related to so-called El Nino weather conditions that tend to bring above average snowfall to Colorado.

“Before ski season even started there was a lot of talk about this being a Godzilla El Nino year and what that would look like for Colorado,” Mills said. “As resorts opened and ski season got underway, many skiers and snowboarders, particularly our savvy in-state riders, took advantage of some of the best early season conditions we’ve had in recent memory.”

Abundant snow also helped to increase bookings for the holiday season and enable resorts to open more terrain, Mills said. “Thanks to some well-timed storms, resorts were able to offer amazing conditions during the holidays and many resorts reached the 100-inch milestone before the end of the year. Even a couple very cold days between Christmas and New Year’s didn’t keep folks from taking advantage of the powder conditions.”

Hospitality also attracts skiers and snowboarders to Colorado, Mills said. “Travelers know that when they visit a Colorado Ski Country resort they’ll be met with friendly employees, personal interactions and a welcoming spirit, and that goes a long way with our guests.”

Family activities, international competitions and various promotions should help to continue to bolster skier visits, Mills said “CSCUSA is nicely positioned for mid-season business as resorts prepare to host events and welcome visitors for popular ski weekends.”