Ski Utah says skier visits declined statewide
May 22, 2015
This winter was one of the worst in recent memory in Utah for snowfall. As a result, skiers didn’t head to the slopes like they normally do.
According to numbers Ski Utah released this week, the amount of skier visits statewide fell 4.9 percent this season. The 3,946,762 skier days were the second fewest in the last decade, exceeded by only the 2011-2012 season.
But Paul Marshall, director of communications for Ski Utah, said the drop was not disastrous, as resorts’ snowmaking systems mitigated Mother Nature’s blow. He said Utah experienced a similar winter in 1976-1977 in terms of snowfall — this year saw 41 percent of the average snowfall, according to the National Weather Service — but had a 53-percent decline in skiers because modern snowmaking technology wasn’t available.
"A 4.9-percent drop in an off snow year is not that concerning," Marshall said. "We really have to give credit to the investment and time the resorts put in to making the conditions as great as they possibly could be."
Emily Summers, senior communications manager for Deer Valley Resort, said in an email that the resort did not see much of a decline in visitors compared to last year, though exact numbers were not available. She said the resort’s snowmaking served as a good "insurance policy" against poor snow conditions.
"We were fairly even with last year and considering the type of winter we had, we do consider that as a success," she said. "It is a positive indication that the destination visitor is confident in our snowmaking abilities and that we can provide a good experience in a low snow year. Snowfall plays a big part in the (statewide) decline and we are optimistic that we will see an increase in visits in a bigger snow year."
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Summers added that, after a handful of lower-than-average snow years in a row, the volatility of snowfall is a concern for the coming seasons, leading the resort to continue to invest heavily in snowmaking.
"Guests will book holiday times early, and those are not as dependent on snow," she said. "However, snowfall is critical for the rest of season."
Margo Christiansen, senior manager of communications for Canyons Resort and Park City Mountain Resort, declined comment.
"Per company policy, we don’t publicly discuss skier visits or business metrics," she said.
Marshall said the ski industry is hopeful snowfall returns to normal next year.
"We think next year is going to be a big year and this this year could just be one of those off-years," he said.
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