Every year is somewhat of a crap shoot for the ski industry depending on snow and snow conditions. There are winners and losers. The stars aligned for the U.S. west this past winter but other parts of North America fared relatively well and there are a number of improvement plans in the works at various resorts. More on that later.
The National Ski Areas Association announced recently that the 2022-23 season was a record. The association reported that resorts nationwide reached 64.7 million skier visits, an increase of 6% over the previous season. The western part of the U.S. can take credit for the bulging numbers.
For the fourth season in a row, season passes accounted for a greater share of visits than day tickets. Pass holders made up half of all visits to U.S. ski areas, while day tickets made up a third of the total.
According to Unofficial Networks, Colorado Ski Country USA announced that skier visits were up 8% compared to last season. The projected total for the 2023-23 season was 14.8 million people, which is a million more visits than the 2021-22 season. “This season exceeds their five-year average visitation by a staggering 18%”, noted Unofficial Networks.
One development that likely contributed to the record season, is the rise of the mega passes. Both Epic and Ikon have multiple major mountains in Colorado, leading to more people making trips to the state. In addition, the Indy Pass added multiple ski resorts in Colorado for the 2022-23 season, giving an incentive for their passholders to go there for a vacation.
Ski Utah announced recently that it estimates visitation to the state’s resorts during the 2022-23 season will reach 7.1 million. — a 22% increase over last year’s record. It won’t know for sure until the season officially ends, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Though currently closed, Snowbird has promised it will reopen Father’s Day weekend, and many skiers and snowboarders hope that the season will stretch the season through July 4. Most Utah resorts saw historical snowfall totals for the season. In fact, Alta surpassed 900″ and ended its season at 903″.
Thanks to all of the season pass programs, the industry has done a notable job of getting current skiers and snowboarders out on the hill but not such a great job attracting newcomers.
The industry is facing a number of persistent, hard-to-solve challenges. Getting newcomers into the sport is difficult. Few newbies are going to pay the asking price for the passes. Generally, they are more likely to purchase a day ticket/lesson package and day tickets have increased significantly at many resorts.
There’s a decline in younger folks going skiing. There’s a vexing dip in women going skiing. The industry is exploring ways to attract skiers who aren’t white.