A-Basin scores second best season ever | SummitDaily.com
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A-Basin scores second best season ever

KIM MARQUIS

ARAPAHOE BASIN – With its new snowmaking system fully operational for the first full season, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area logged the second-highest number of skier visits in its 58-year history.The 2003-2004 season brought 275,429 skiers to A-Basin’s slopes, a 13-percent decrease over the 2002-2003 season, which was by far the area’s best season on record.With 435 inches of snow during the 2002-2003 season, the ski area logged 317,000 skier visits. That season, it fired up its snow guns for the first time, but could make snow for only about a month.This year, only 236 inches of snow fell on A-Basin’s slopes – 70 percent of its average snowfall.A skier visit is represented by one skier or snowboarder using a pass to ski or ride any part of one day.Ski area spokeswoman Leigh Hierholzer attributed this season’s skier numbers to the fully operational snowmaking system.”We had a stellar year considering we had 200 inches less snow this year than last year,” she said. “The (manmade) base allowed us to stay open later, as well.” A-Basin opened on Oct. 30, its earliest start in history. With warm spring temperatures and few May snowstorms, it closed with an 18-inch base June 13. Ski areas across the state logged a 3-percent decline in skier visits this season compared with last.Front Range/Gem resorts, which include A-Basin and six other areas, logged a 12-percent decline in skier visits, while Front Range/Destination ski resorts, which include Summit County’s three other areas, logged a 4-percent decline. Warm March temperatures were blamed for the declines, but Hierholzer said A-Basin saw steady business that month.”We had good March. I think because of our elevation we weren’t affected as much,” she said. The area’s base elevation is at 10,780 feet.”The snow was great (in March),” Hierholzer said. “It was nice warm weather and a good time to ski.”During the 2002-2003 season three years ago, the ski area logged only 151,000 skier visits.”(That year) we had no snowmaking and we didn’t have any snow,” she said. “The snowmaking is proving to be a good investment.”Breckenridge Ski Resort and Keystone Resort, Vail Resorts’ two Summit County areas, hosted 2.346 million skiers during the ski season – a 5-percent decrease over the previous year.Vail again held the top spot for skier visits, with 1.556 million skiers days. Breckenridge followed with 1.402 million. Keystone, however, took an almost 10 percent hit, with 944,000 skiers.For Vail Resorts’ Summit County areas, the numbers represent the third consecutive year of declining skier visits. Copper Mountain Resort has not yet reported skier visits.Kim Marquis can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 249, or at kmarquis@summitdaily.com.


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