On a similarly high note, although total U.S. skier days were down 5.5 percent from last year¿coming in at 54.2-million visits¿it was actually the third-highest number ever overall. And considering the affects that the terrorist attacts of 9-11 had on the nation’s desire to travel, compounded by a bad snow year, the overall results point to a high level of resiliency on the part of the ski resort business. According to the report key programs and strategic initiatives put in place in by resorts such as pricing innovations and increased outreach to newcomers, likely helped the visitation numbers.
While this year’s total was down from last year, it ranked third-overall highest behind last year’s 57.3 million visits in 2000/01, and the 54.6 million in 1993/94.
All regions except for the Pacific West experienced a decline in visits this season. The Northeast was down 10.5 percent, and the Southest was down 9.5 percent.
Snowfall was one of the main contributing factors to the reduced visits. Average snowfall was down 10 percent across the country, with the Southeast seeing 61 percent less snowfall, and the Northeast seeing 46 percent less white stuff. The Pacific West was the only region to see increased snowfall over last year (31 percent). The average number of days a resort was open was also down nationally (-12 percent).
Not surprising, the Pacific West is still the stronghold of snowboarding, with 41.1 percent of all visitors riding snowboards now. Interestingly, the Midwest has the second highest concentration of snowboarders this season (32 percent), followed by the Southest (28.6 percent), Northeast (26.3 percent), and the Rocky Mountains (21.8 percent).
According to the report, the average age of a snowboarder is 23 years old, compared to an average alpine skier at 38 years old, and a telemarker who’s 34 years old.
In lessons across the country, snowboarding saw another increase (3.3 percent) while alpine skiing lessons decreased by 4.9 percent. However, alpine lessons still represent three quarters of all lessons being taken on the hill, compared to snowboarding lessons just making up a quarter.