Warm weather. A dry end to 2012. Later openings at ski resorts than sometimes seen (for example, Loveland was open by October 8 in 2009). Those are just some of the reasons that caused Colorado skier visits to be down at the start of the 2012/13 ski season.
Last week Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) reported that skier visits were down during the first period of the 2012/13 ski season, which is defined as opening day through December 31, 2012. When compared to the same period last year, total skier visits at CSCUSA's 21 member resorts decreased 11.5 percent.
Why the decline? Two reasons are most notable: the variable snow conditions and late openings, or later than skiers have sometimes seen at spots like Wolf Creek, Arapahoe Basin and Loveland. “First period is largely fueled by in-state visitors, and an unseasonably warm October and November kept many Coloradans from tallying lots of ski days,” said Melanie Mills, president and CEO of CSCUSA. “Snow did not arrive in earnest until mid-December, but when it came, it was in time for in-state and out-of-state guests to enjoy wonderful wintery holidays at resorts.”
And before those December snowfalls, the snowpack was really lagging across the West Slope of Colorado, according to this article in the Vail Daily.
But by the end of 2012, ski areas had conditions that were more like they are in an average year, which translated into a strong holiday period. Those storms also fueled some excitement about the rest of the Colorado ski season. Snowier months are still ahead, the next round of holidays--Carnival and Easter--happen to be well-timed with the ski visitation, and hotel bookings for February and March are up from last year.
“We’re optimistic that some of the best skiing of the season is still ahead of us,” commented Mills. “We are encouraged by early January numbers and spring bookings, and our resorts are looking forward to an exciting and busy rest of the season.”
As for us skiers, that can only mean one thing: Get out and ski.