Aspen Skiing Co. managed to salvage the season after a poor start and ended up down only 7 percent in skier visits compared with the prior winter, the company announced Thursday, reports the Aspen Times.
Skico was down almost 20 percent at the end of December, so company officials were relieved and pleased with the outcome, according to Jeff Hanle, Skico vice president of communications.
“That’s a strong number. We were happy to have clawed our way back into it,” Hanle said. “I think it surprised us.”
Meanwhile, the 24 member resorts of Colorado Ski Country USA finished the season 2 percent down compared with the prior season, the trade association announced at its annual meeting in Denver on Thursday. The resorts combined for 7.1 million skier visits.
“These end-of-season numbers are impressive when looking back over the entire season,” Colorado Ski Country USA president and CEO Melanie Mills said in a prepared statement. “We faced historically low snowfall in the early part of the season and resort operations crews deserve credit for their tireless work to get slopes open and operating during an extended period of early-season conditions.”
March was a strong season for Skico and for Colorado overall:
“There was exuberant pent-up demand and skiers and snowboarders flocked to the slopes in the latter half of the season, allowing resorts to finish on a strong note,” Mills said.
The 7.1 million visits don’t include numbers at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone. The ski areas operated by Vail Resorts aren’t members of the state trade association.
Colorado Ski Country’s member results were slightly ahead of the five-year average for skier visits.
On the national level, skier visits were down an estimated 1.5 million, or nearly 3 percent, in 2017-18 from the prior season, according to National Ski Areas Association. A preliminary study released in May estimated ski areas tallied 53.3 million visits this winter compared with 54.8 million the winter before.
Although skier numbers were down across the country, revenue was up year over year, so even if visitors weren’t hitting the slopes as often, they were sleeping in lodges, eating at restaurants and shopping. Aspen’s retail sales tax revenue climbed 4 percent during January through April, according to the city of Aspen and Vail Resorts reported a similar trend.
Oh, and maybe increased lift ticket prices played a part?