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Colorado sees skier visits up during early season

Skiers take turns at Loveland Ski Area in Colorado in December 2013.
Skiers take turns at Loveland Ski Area in Colorado in December 2013.
Loveland Ski Area/Dustin Schaefer

Freshies at Winter Park, Steamboat, Loveland and Arapahoe Basin to kick off the week. Twenty-two inches of snow at Breckenridge in two days. Fifty-eight inches of snow at Vail since January 1. Several Snow Pass-worthy days at Copper in the last week, including the last 48 hours. Just call the 2013-2014 ski season the season of snow--and the season skiers are getting out there and making turns. And not just now, but since October when Arapahoe Basin opened operations and kicked off the season.

On Monday, Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) announced that its 21 member resorts reported an increase in skier visitation for the beginning of the 2013-14 ski season. Skier visits at CSCUSA resorts were up by 22 percent during the first period of this season, which was defined October 13, opening day, through December 31, compared to the same period of the prior year. What might be more impressive is that this season’s skier visits during that first period also exceeded the five-year first period average by approximately 6.7 percent.

“Riding momentum from last spring and buoyed by early season snow this fall, the season got off to a very positive start,” commented Melanie Mills, president & CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA. “While we’ve set a brisk pace there is still a lot of ski season left. With such wonderful conditions we’re optimistic that the momentum will continue.”

A deluge of early season snow across much of the state allowed several resorts to open early and open more terrain and lifts than is typically available in the beginning of the season. The heavy snow helped get the word out about ski conditions in Colorado and drove visitation around the holidays.

If you're a Colorado skier who thought it was a little tougher to find lodging on those weekends you had no problem booking in previous seasons, you'd be correct. These early-season skiers boosted occupancy at Colorado mountain resort lodging properties. According to a CSCUSA report, in partnership with DestiMetrics, occupancy at Colorado resort lodging properties increased 11.6 percent during the October through December period of the 2013-14 ski season compared to the same time last season. And as of December 31, the booking pace for January and February 2014 was ahead of last year’s pace by 1.8 percent for the same time period. No wonder it was hard to find a place to stay last weekend--it's like skiers knew powder was coming before it actually arrived.

In addition to January being Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, it's also National Ski Safety Month in Colorado. Skiers and snowboarders are encouraged to know and follow Your Responsibility Code, which is widely regarded as the key to skier and snowboarder safety on the slopes. Comprised of seven principles that collectively outline on-mountain skier etiquette and safe skiing practices, you can read more about The Code and how resorts are recognizing ski safety month at the Club Colorado blog.

What's a skier visit you ask? It's 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.

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