NEWRY, Maine, Jan. 3 /PRNewswire/ — With the return to normal winter weather patterns over most of ski country, skiers and snowboarders flocked to American Skiing Company (NYSE: SKI) resorts over the Christmas holiday period.

For the seven-day period ending December 31, total system-wide skier visits were up approximately 16 percent over the comparable period in the prior year. American Skiing Company officials also said total revenues for the week were up approximately 24 percent, giving the Company the single largest week of revenue in its history.

“We view that as a promising recovery after two disappointing Christmas holiday seasons,” said American Skiing Company chairman Leslie B. Otten. “We believe that it demonstrates the resilience of the market.”

Normal snowmaking temperatures helped New England resorts to open all mountain areas and provide quality conditions. Many resorts, including Sunday River and Mount Snow, completed trail openings on snowmaking trails ahead of schedule.

Killington, VT, boosted its snowmaking capacity by 30 percent this year, allowing it to open trails faster. It entered the holiday period with nearly twice the open terrain of any other resort in New England.

As expected, The Canyons in Utah also posted solid gains. As a result of last March’s opening of the resort village at the base of the mountain, the addition of “Dreamscape,” its eighth mountain peak and a new “Cabriolet” gondola lift, which transports day visitors to the village core, The Canyons shattered its previous Christmas attendance record.

Heavenly saw solid gains year-over-year. The resort improved performance due to the largest snowmaking system in the western United States and its new gondola, which transports guests in the downtown South Lake Tahoe, CA/Stateline, NV community directly to the slopes.

“Heavenly’s gondola has already served approximately 21,000 visitors since it opened two weeks ago,” said Otten. “More than 10,000 non-skiing sightseers bought tickets to ride the new lift during the holidays. Access to the mountain from downtown has had a positive impact on both visits and the pace at the existing base lodges. In the long term, we believe the gondola will play a significant role in the resort’s growth.”

On the real estate front, Steamboat, Heavenly and The Canyons all saw strong interest from prospective vacation home purchasers over the holiday week.

“It’s important to remember that this information is a snapshot of the Christmas holiday period,” said Otten. “We still have part of the second fiscal quarter to go. Still, we believe that the Company’s performance during the Christmas holiday week bodes well. We’ve got our first major milestone successfully behind us, and the rest of the season looks promising. Reservations for the remainder of the season are up significantly, real estate projects are showing solid interest and ski conditions at our resorts are outstanding.”

American Skiing Company’s second fiscal quarter of 2001 closes on January 28, 2001.