NSAA final figures: 54.4 million lift tix sold


Sept. 5, 2002

LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- Skier/snowboarder visits for the2001-2002 season achieved the third-best season in the ski industry's history,recording 54.4 million skier/snowboarder visits nationwide, according to final figures released today by the National Ski Areas Association. The study was conducted byRRC Associates, a research firm located in Boulder, Colo.

"The 2001-2002 ski season began under circumstances that were verycomplex," said NSAA President Michael Berry. "The enthusiasm generated by theprior season's all-time record came to a halt, following September 11. Inaddition, travel safety concerns and the slowing economy had the potential toseriously impact ski areas across the country. Poor snowfall and warmtemperatures, which occurred in much of the country, particularly in the earlyand late parts of the winter season, also caused a concern for the season'ssuccess.

"Despite these intense challenges, the U.S. ski resort industry performedsuperbly. I think it is due in part to the comfort that the mountainenvironment provides, along with some of the industry's key programs andstrategic initiatives that are in play -- such as pricing innovations, anincreased outreach to newcomers and many resort improvements," said Berry.

"Also, the success of the 2002 Olympics hosted in Salt Lake City onlyhelped to provide positive exposure and enthusiasm for the slopes," addedBerry.

The 2001-2002 season's total 54.4 million skier/snowboarder visitsdecreased 5.1 percent from the record-setting 2000-2001 season's reported57.3 million visits. However, compared to the ski industry's 10-year average,the national visits were up 1.1 percent.

A skier/snowboarder visit is defined as one person visiting a ski area forall or any part of a day or night and includes full-day, half-day, night,complimentary, adult, child, season and any other ticket types that gives onethe use of an area's facility.

In terms of projected numbers, all regions except for the Pacific Westexperienced a decline in visits this season. The Northeast experienced thegreatest decline (-11.0 percent), followed by the Southeast (-8.5 percent),Midwest (-7.9 percent) and Rocky Mountains (-6.2 percent). The Pacific West,the only region to experience improved snowfall this season, was up 7.5percent, enjoying its highest visitation in the history of the Kottke Survey,and possibly ever. While declines occurred in every region except for thePacific West, it should be noted that the declines were relative to therecord-setting 2000/01 season. When evaluated relative to longer-termaverages, most regions performed comparatively better.

One of the major growth segments of the ski industry continues to besnowboarding. Snowboarding increased to 29.2 percent of the total areavisits, up from 27.7 percent last season, a 5.3 percent rate of increase. Thecompound annual rate of snowboarding growth since 1998-1999 is a strong6.8 percent, although below the 20 percent annual rate of growth in themid-1990s. This has slowed in due part to an increasing base of participantsand because the sport is maturing and it's expected to level off at somepoint.

Obviously, snowboarding represents a significant segment of the skiindustry not only in visits generated, but in lesson participation andequipment rentals as well. During the past four seasons, the Midwest hasexperienced the largest absolute gains in snowboarding (7.3 percentagepoints), followed by the Southeast (6.5 percentage points), Northeast(6.2 percentage points), Pacific West (6.1 percentage points), and the RockyMountains (3.6 percentage points). The growth of snowboarding has occurredthe most at the smaller resorts.

Snowboarding implications for the industry remain powerful. Riderprofiles are becoming more diverse, reflecting the increasing tendency oftraditional alpine skiers to cross over and participate full-time or part ofthe time in snowboarding. As individuals, snowboarders continue to be moreactive participants, riiding more days per season at the resorts on averagethan their alpine skier counterparts. As baby boomer skiers begin to drop outof the sport and are replaced by younger adults or children who are much morelikely to be snowboarders, snowboarding is likely to continue to increase,perhaps for many years to come. Also, the explosion of other new specializedski technology such as fat skis, parabolics, supershort skis/snowskates, etc.,may also further diversify the snowsport population. The great variety of newskis available, in concert with continued growth in boarding, holds manyopportunities for the industry, according to the Kottke National End of SeasonSurvey.

225 of the nation's 493 operating ski resorts (45.6 percent)participated in this year's survey, accounting for about 44.4 millionvisits.