2015/16 Ski Season Stands Out As Best on Record for Colorado
By Dan Greeson
Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) announced today at the association’s 53rd Annual Meeting that skier visits at its 21 member resorts totaled 7.4 million in 2015/16, up by nearly five percent compared to last year’s CSCUSA membership season total and a new record for visitation.
Additionally, the 2015/16 season skier visit total for CSCUSA members bested the five-year average by more than 10 percent, making it the third consecutive year skier visits have outpaced the five-year average.
“Seeing our members’ visitation overtake their previous record demonstrates the passion and dedication our guests have for Colorado’s signature sports” stated Melanie Mills, president & CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA. “It also makes clear the nonstop commitment our member resorts have to providing the best ski product in the world by setting the industry standard for guest service, skier safety and quality snow conditions.”
CSCUSA resorts’ 2015/16 skier visits outpaced the ski industry nationally, which saw gains in visitation by .05 percent despite weather challenges in the East and Midwest. CSCUSA resorts also supported strong percentage gains across the Rocky Mountain region, which enjoyed good snow conditions.
“Colorado’s reputation as the number one ski destination is evidenced by our ownership of 24 percent of the 2015/16 national skier market,” said Mills. “It’s a testament to our members’ dedication to provide a top-notch guest experience from friendly employees who offer a welcoming spirit to a consistent snow surface with plenty of powder days.”
Fall snowmaking conditions paired with ideally timed snow storms and blanketed resorts with copious amounts of early season snow. Loveland Ski Area and Arapahoe Basin both opened on October 29, 2015 and launched Colorado’s ski season.
“The season started with excellent conditions and resorts handedly delivered on skier demand fueled by buzz of a Godzilla El Nino,” said Mills. “Our savvy in-state skiers took advantage of the best early season conditions Colorado had in recent memory.”
More snow came in November and December which allowed resorts to open ample terrain during the holidays. A series of well-timed storms led to 100-inch milestones being met before the end of 2015 to the delight of holiday skiers and riders.
Despite spells of warm weather in January and February, typical of an El Nino weather pattern, CSCUSA resorts received more than enough early season snow to provide enjoyable mid-winter conditions complemented by sunny days and mild temperatures.
By spring, CSCUSA resorts exceeded expectations for popular ski weekends and spring breaks when skiers showed up in droves. Wintery weather returned with a vengeance in April adding powder days and snowpack. “In many ways it was a story of two springs with the latter half bringing a deluge of snow resulting in resort season extensions, re-openings and bonus weekends,” commented Mills.
During the course of the season, CSCUSA resorts highlighted the importance of skier safety in several ways including by participating in National Safety Awareness Month. Additionally, Aspen Snowmass was recognized with the 2015/16 National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) Safety Award for Best Employee Safety Program; and Copper Mountain was recognized with the 2015/16 NSAA Best Kids on Lifts Safety Campaign. CSCUSA will announce its industry award winners on Friday June 10.
Skier visits are the metric used to track participation in skiing and snowboarding. A skier visit represents a person participating in the sport of skiing or snowboarding for any part of one day at a mountain resort. These numbers are preliminary results and subject to final adjustments by CSCUSA members. The decision to release individual numbers is up to each individual resort.