Breck breaks skier number record |

Breck breaks skier number record

summit daily news

SUMMIT COUNTY ” Breckenridge Ski Resort reached an all-time high in skier visits this season, posting 1.471 million visits ” a 4.9 percent increase over the previous year.

Keystone Resort broke 1 million and saw an 8.2 percent increase in skier visits over the 2003-2004 season. Keystone logged 1.021 million visitors this year.

Both resorts are owned by Vail Resorts, which announced the numbers during an earnings call Thursday, when company chairman and chief executive officer Adam Aron said in terms of financial performance, the numbers “speak for themselves.”

The numbers also speak to a successful season statewide for the industry.

Also on Thursday, Colorado Ski Country USA announced that ski resorts statewide posted the third busiest season with an estimated 11.81 million visits.

The weak dollar combined with marketing efforts to propel growth in the international destination market by 28 percent over last season, Colorado Ski Country president and chief executive officer Rob Perlman said.

Front Range Destination Resorts, which includes Copper Mountain, Keystone and Breckenridge in Summit County, posted the largest year-over-year growth with an increase of more than 350,000 visits.

Copper Mountain Resort has yet to release skier numbers, but director of marketing Ben Friedland said the feeling is positive.

“It was certainly one of our best years ever,” Friedland said.

He attributed the numbers to better marketing.

“Colorado Ski Country was really aggressive in focusing on key core markets they’ve identified. That’s been positive,” he said. “Coupled with the individual efforts of the resorts, there’s a lot of marketing going out and people are definitely recognizing it.”

International travel had dropped significantly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but Colorado Ski Country noted that those visits increased by more than 200,000 since the 2002-2003 season.

The United Kingdom remains Colorado’s largest international market with a 31 percent increase in visits over last season. Visits from Australia and Latin America grew 25 percent and 16 percent respectively.

Overall, destination visits from areas outside Colorado increased 6 percent statewide while the remainder of the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Northwest regions saw an estimated 4 percent drop, Colorado Ski Country reported. Colorado this season accounted for 55 percent of the Western U.S. destination skier market.

The Gems resorts, which includes Arapahoe Basin in Summit County and seven other small ski areas across the state, saw a 5 percent increase in skier numbers over the prior year.

A-Basin might post a record year, director of mountain operations Alan Henceroth said Thursday. The ski area closed Sunday.

“What was great about this year is we were steady throughout the year, which is the way we like it,” Henceroth said. He attributed increased skier numbers to a longer early season made possible by a new snowmaking system.

Destination Resorts, which are more than a two-hour drive from Denver such as Aspen Mountain and Telluride, ended the year with a 3 percent increase in skier visits over last season.

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