Despite dip in visits, Colorado ski resorts report strong year

2016-17 season likely second best on record

Durango Herald file
Colorado Ski Country USA reports a dip in skier visits after setting a record during the 2015-16 season. Enlarge photo

Durango Herald file Colorado Ski Country USA reports a dip in skier visits after setting a record during the 2015-16 season.

Visits to 22 ski areas across Colorado were down slightly during the 2016-17 season.

Purgatory Resort, Hesperus Ski Area and the 20 other members of Colorado Ski Country USA reported 7.3 million skier visits this winter. Last season, Colorado Ski Country reported about 7.4 million skier visits.

The Colorado Ski Country total does not include Vail Resorts – Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone.

The 2016-17 season is likely the second best year for skier visits, Colorado Ski Country estimates.

Accounting for Vail Resorts, Colorado set a record last year with more than 13 million visits, said Chris Linsmayer of Colorado Ski Country.

When someone skis or snowboards for any part of a day at a mountain resort, it is counted as a skier visit, according to a news release.

Snowfall in October and November 2015 allowed some resorts to open early and put the state ahead, he said.

During the 2016-17 season, the state did not see the same heavy early snow.

“We started in the hole and we were never able to catch up,” Linsmayer said.

This season, there was heavy snow in December and January and over the holidays the state set a few daily records for skier visits, he said.

Snow late in the season allowed for season extensions at four Colorado Ski Country resorts, including Purgatory, which extended its season through weekends in April.

Colorado is the No. 1 ski state in the country, drawing about 20 to 25 percent of skier visits, Linsmayer said.

Purgatory hit a 17-year high for skier visits last year. Requests for comment were not returned by Purgatory staff Friday.

mshinn@durangoherald.com

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