The number of visits to Colorado ski resorts during the 2012-13 season was up nearly 4 percent over last year, according to estimates released Thursday by Colorado Ski Country USA.
Statewide skier visits totaled an estimated 11,445,000, a Ski Country USA news release stated. The organization’s 21 member resorts, including nearby Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Loveland Ski Area, Winter Park Resort, Ski Cooper and Copper Mountain Resort, hosted 6.4 million skiers this year, which represented an increase of 3.8 percent, or approximately 235,000 more skier visits, than a season ago.
Although the state experienced an overall increase in skier traffic this year, variable early season snow conditions forced many resorts to open later than normal.
“In-state visitors tend to lead the charge in the beginning of the season, but an unusually warm fall kept local skiers and riders from logging in those early ski days,” said Melanie Mills, president and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA, in the release. “It wasn’t until mid-December that the snow really started to show up, but it showed up big time and made for a quintessential Colorado winter ski holiday at resorts.”
How the numbers break down for each individual resort is unavailable as officials from member mountains of both Colorado Ski Country USA and Vail Resorts declined to release visitor data citing the proprietary nature of the information.
However Kristen Petitt Stewart, senior communications manager at Breckenridge Ski Resort, echoed Mills’ comments, saying late storms provided the perfect cap to the season.
“The 2012-2013 season was a fun one — as we celebrated Ullr’s 50th Anniversary, a bigger and expanded Winter Dew Tour and saw the return of serious powder days during spring and the Spring Fever Festival,” Petitt said in an email to the Summit Daily. “It’s great to look back on this ski season and see how we provided many unique, fun guest experiences that you can only get in Breck. We are proud of our staff and the community for their part in this season’s success.”
In addition to releasing skier visitation numbers, Colorado Ski Country USA touted the safety initiatives implemented by many Colorado resorts. During its 50th annual meeting this week Ski Country USA recognized A-Basin and Copper Mountain, which received this year’s National Ski Areas Association safety awards for best helmet-safety program and best overall safety program, respectively.
Like many resorts around the country Copper Mountain participates in the NSAA’s National Safety Awareness Week, but it also hosts its own Safety Fest, which took place this season over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. During those weeks visitors learn about four unique safety initiatives that not only promote crucial parts of mountain safety, but also have fun names like “protect your grill, look uphill” and “practice bromance,” said Stephanie Sweeney, spokeswoman at Copper Mountain.
“During the 2012-2013 winter season, a practice chairlift also was installed in West Village, where most of the mountain’s beginner terrain is located and Copper’s Ski and Ride School,” Sweeney said in an email. “With this chair, skiers and riders can practice sitting down and standing up off the chair as well as lowering and lifting the safety bar before they take to the real thing.”
Because of Colorado’s dedication to skier safety and programs implemented at resorts like Copper Mountain the state experienced eight fatalities last season, a sharp downturn from the 2011-12 season, Colorado Ski Country USA reported.