Breck might have topped Vail |

Breck might have topped Vail

SUMMIT COUNTY – It’s happened twice in the past 10 years, and it might have happened again this ski season. According to preliminary skier numbers slipping out from ski officials, Breckenridge Ski Resort might have topped Vail Mountain.

At a charity hockey game last week, Vail Resorts chief operating officer Adam Aron said that Vail’s skier numbers hit “more than 1.4 million” this season.

At a town retreat Friday, Breckenridge Mayor Sam Mamula off-handedly mentioned the ski area logged 1.463 million skiers.

The official skier numbers are announced each year at the Colorado Ski Country USA annual conference. This year’s conference is scheduled for June 11-13 in Beaver Creek. Colorado Ski County USA spokeswoman Kristin Rust said “it takes some time to pull all of the numbers together – there’s always some changes – and there are still some resorts open.”

Vail Resorts spokeswoman Christina Schleicher said the company would not comment yet on skier numbers.

But the Breckenridge totals, if higher than Vail’s, would be a major coup based on previous reports. VR’s second-quarter financial report said Breckenridge’s skier visits were down .3 percent over the same period last year, while Vail had shown a 9.3 percent increase through Jan. 31.

The same financial report noted a 1.8 percent decrease in skier visits at Keystone compared to the second quarter the year before. Keystone recorded 1.069 million skiers in 2001-02, down 13.1 percent from the year before.

Breckenridge took the No. 1-spot from Vail in the 1998-99 and 1999-00 ski seasons.

Copper Mountain executive David Barry said at the same charity hockey event last week that the ski resort tallied 1.06 million visitors, a 5.4 percent increase over the previous ski season. Barry is vice president of Intrawest Colorado, overseeing Copper and Winter Park.

Figures for other ski areas are not yet available. In addition to gauging the popularity of resorts, the skier number figures are used to measure the success of marketing efforts and calculate spending amounts per visitor.

Arapahoe Basin will likely see the greatest improvement in skier numbers for Summit County-area resorts. A-Basin closed April 21 last year with 151,678 skier visits. Spokeswoman Leigh Hierholzer gave the ski area a 50-50 shot Tuesday for making it to July 4 and said A-Basin officials expect a significant increase in the skier total. She hopes employees can stay stress-free.

“Now that we’re the only ski area open, it’s kind of taxing,” Hierholzer said. “When you get a 40-inch day, the employees get a little stressed and it’s tough keeping motivation up. But I think we’ll make it.”

Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or

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