Ski Utah reports that skiers spent less time on slopes, more dollars in town |

Ski Utah reports that skiers spent less time on slopes, more dollars in town

Jeff Gellner helps his son Nicolas, 7, adjust his ski boots while Riley Gellner, 9, tends to his own boots before the family begins their morning of skiing on opening day at Park City Mountain on Thursday, November 23, 2017. The resort opened Homerun and Turtle Trail to the public.
(Tanzi Propst/Park Record)

During the 2016-17 ski season, the snow forecast website On the Snow reported that Park City received a total of 404 inches of powder. Last season, Park City received only 167 inches.

Snowfall was down throughout the state and the Mountain West region this past winter, resulting in a 9.6 percent decrease in statewide skier visits from the previous season’s record-setting numbers, according to a recent report from Ski Utah. There were roughly 4.1 million skier visits in Utah during the 2017-18 season, the sixth-best season on record and on par with the state’s 10-year average. But, Ski Utah also reported that total ski/snowboard-related spending in Utah remained high. There was a reported $1.322 billion in spending, compared to last year’s $1.431 billion.

Spokespersons from both Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort said that the low snowfall was a challenge for the resorts, yet guests still came and spent money. The Park City Chamber/Bureau reported that occupancy rates did not drop significantly from the prior season.

“Even though we saw a small dip in skier visits during the 17-18 season, other areas of the resort saw (a) very strong year, including lodging and ski school, with many ‘sold out’ days,” said Emily Summers, spokesperson for Deer Valley Resort.

She said that revenue was “on par with some of the recent record years.” She added that visitors who skied less participated in different activities at and around the resort.

Nathan Rafferty, president and chief executive officer of Ski Utah, agreed that the low amount of snow lured people from the slopes and toward town.

“They still went skiing, but then they spent a little bit more time on Main Street, at the (Utah) Olympic Park, just doing alternative activities,” he said. “Ironically, maybe that lower snow pushed spending a little higher.”

At Park City Mountain Resort, on-mountain events such as the Seven Summits Challenge and Pink Park City helped draw people to the resort, said spokesperson Jessica Miller.

Ski Utah reported that out-of-state skiers spent an average of $337 per day last season, a significant increase from the 2016-17 season’s $309. Per day spending of Utah residents was a relatively constant $107 compared to $106 during the previous season.

“Resorts are becoming really well rounded,” Rafferty said. “I think people are starting to learn that there is just so much more to a mountain vacation. While skiing is always going to be the prime reason to come out, there are so many things you can do.”

He also said that the investments in snowmaking technology at Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort paid off last season. Without it, he doubts that they would have been open during Christmas week.

Miller said that Park City Mountain Resort’s snowmaking and grooming teams worked hard to ensure quality terrain for a successful season.

Snowfall in Utah did increase in the late winter, early spring period, allowing resorts to rest easy and finish out the season strong. Summers said that ski lessons at Deer Valley Resort were especially popular in the month of March.

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