October 19, 2001 Features & Images » Feature Story

The numbers game - part 1 

Page 2 of 3

But overall skier and snowboarder numbers fell last year despite growth in skier/rider visits.

According to the CSC, 3.6 million Canadians took to the slopes last year – a 15 per cent drop from the previous season.

Skier/rider numbers fluctuated between 4.7 million and 4.9 million in Canada during the mid-90s and have steadily decreased every year since.

But those numbers vary quite drastically from another indicator – the number of active skiers and snowboarders.

The CSC defines an active skier or snowboarder as someone who skis or rides more than four times per month.

Only 641,000 Canadians were active skiers and 354,000 were active snowboarders last year, down from the previous season's respective totals of 738,000 and 412,000. There were more 2.1 million active skiers in 1988.

The decrease in active skier numbers is, according to the CSC, partly due to skiers who have switched to snowboarding.

But the combined totals of active skiers and boarders (995,000 last year) shows a 53 per cent decrease since 1988.

Meanwhile, statistics from south of the border show a picture of the ski and snowboard industry that is just as unclear.

U.S. ski resorts saw 57.3 million skier/rider visits last season, a new national record, according to the Loveland, Colo.-based National Ski Areas Association.

The previous record of 54.6 million skier/rider visits was set during the winter of 1993-94. Skier/rider visits in the U.S. have hovered around the 53-million mark for the past decade.

According to the NSAA, strong early-season snowfall in all parts of the U.S. was a major contributing factor, especially in the Northeast, Southeast and Midwest regions where snowfall totals ranged from 61 to 78 per cent above normal.

The Midwest region – there is skiing in the Midwest – had its best season in 20 years, logging 7.5 million skier/rider visits. (The flat U.S. Midwest saw 35 per cent more skier/rider visits than mountainous B.C. did last year.)

And despite experiencing average snowfall, the Rocky Mountain area – which includes the majority of U.S. ski resorts in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming – recorded its best season ever with 19.3 million skier/rider visits.

Whistler-Blackcomb's arch-rival, Colorado's Vail, led the way in the U.S. with 1.65 million skier/rider visits.

Vail Resorts' three other areas – Breckenridge, Beaver Creek and Keystone – accounted for another 3.3 million visits.

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