State’s skier numbers down |

State’s skier numbers down

Jane Reuter

DENVER – Colorado skier visits were down during the 2001-02 season 4.3 percent – a figure

industry experts say is cause for celebration in a year of national travel fears, a weakened economy and poor snow conditions. Throughout Colorado, 11.1 million skier visits were recorded during the recently completed season, according to Colorado Ski Country USA.

While Vail was still No. 1 in total skier visits, Breckenridge actually outperformed its sister resort, recording its best year ever.

For the second year running, Vail brought in the most skiers of any resort in the United States. Breckenridge came in at No. 2. The two have swapped places for top honors four years in a row.

“The gap between Breckenridge and Vail was not as big this year,” said Vail Resorts’ CEO Adam Aron, whose company owns the Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Vail ski resorts. “Vail’s (numbers) decreased while Breckenridge’s increased. You know the saying – you love all your children equally.”

Breckenridge posted an increase in skier visits of 4.7 percent, while Keystone recorded a 12 percent decline. Poor snowfall went hand-in-hand with Keystone’s lackluster showing. At Keystone, snowfall was about 50 percent of normal throughout the season. Elsewhere in the county, snowfall was about 75 percent of normal.

Copper Mountain Resort owner Intrawest will not release resort-specific numbers.

Despite the drop in skier visits, Aron said he’s not worried about Keystone.

“If snowfall is 50 percent of normal, you can expect that some skiers aren’t going to go to that place, especially when there are so many great resorts nearby,” he said. “We think some of that growth at Breckenridge is because some Keystone skiers went other places. I would expect given Keystone has normal snowfall next year, it would recover some of its natural skiers.”

He also said much of a ski area’s profit comes off the ski slopes, in shops, restaurants and hotels.

Copper Mountain Resort COO Dave Barry said Intrawest will talk more about its end-of-season performance later this summer. Meanwhile, he’s happy with the resort’s skier numbers.

“There’s much to be thankful for,” he said. “When you consider the events of September and the potential that could have had on all of our worlds, these are very strong results.”

Aron maintains Summit and Eagle county resorts hold onto a strong market share because of their proximity to Denver International Airport and Interstate 70. He also credits “fabulous sales and marketing.”

“We have very good access compared to all those other ski resorts, which are hours and hours away from a major airport and then on winding mountain roads,” he said.

Jane Reuter can be reached at 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at

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