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Colorado's skiing numbers down after record-setting season last year

Joe Mueller

(The Center Square) – The number of people skiing and snowboarding in Colorado declined this season compared to last year’s record-setting numbers.

Colorado Ski Country USA reported approximately 14 million people participated in skiing or snowboarding during the 2023-24 season at its 21 member resorts. The organization reported approximately 14.8 million participated in 2022-23. A “skier visit” is counted as anyone participating in the snow sports for any part of one day at a resort. Colorado's population is approximately 5.8 million.

Research conducted for the organization found Colorado’s ski industry generates approximately $4.8 billion in annual economic output and $1.9 billion annually in labor income, including direct and secondary effects.

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Colorado Ski Country USA estimated 14.8 million skiers during the 2022-2023 season, an increase of almost 8 percent from the 2021-22 season.

“This season was a rollercoaster ride, starting off on the warm and dry side and ending with a notably snowy extended season that stretched deep into spring,” Melanie Mills, president and chief executive officer of Colorado Ski Country, said in a statement. “Our hats are off to the resorts who managed everything the season held, while providing an unparalleled guest experience every single day. Ski areas saw strong season pass sales and a robust economy, despite inflation, that buoyed visitation.”

The National Ski Areas Association reported a total of 60.4 million participated in skiing this season, the fifth-best total since the organization started tracking during the 1978-79 season. All six regions surveyed by the organization reported declines compared to last season.

The year before the COVID-19 pandemic led to widespread shutdowns, the National Ski Areas Association reported more than 59 million visits in 2018-19, almost 11 percent higher than the 2017-18 season. The organization stated a 31 percent increase in snowfall during 2018-19 and improvements to guest experiences led to increases in every region throughout the nation.

The Rocky Mountain region continues to attract the most skiers, with 28.1 million reported in 2022-23 by the National Ski Areas Association, followed by 13.2 million in the northeast region.

“Some ski area operators described the season as a roller coaster, and I applaud those same operators for being flexible, reopening to take advantage of a late season storm or making snow in late March to squeeze in one more week,” Kelly Pawlak, president and chief executive officer of the National Ski Areas Association, said in a statement. “Skiers are a hardy bunch and responded enthusiastically. The strong skier visits speak volumes to their passion for sliding on snow.”