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Research on declining skier visits

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
A quick search here didn't really turn up what I was looking for: Can anybody point me towards some good research/articles on the trend towards declining skier (and boarder) visits in the US?
I see some good reports from Utah and other places reporting record skier visit numbers in recent years, yet I'm also aware a lot of anecdotal info about how numbers are flat overall around the country for the last couple decades. I have a poor grasp of the mechanics of this trend, but apparently a key factor is that the average age of the skier/boarder population is rising while there is a decline in the growth rate of the general younger population, as well as a change in the demographics and ethnic make-up of the younger population. I guess this means theoretically that there is a decline in the growth of new snow sport enthusiasts to replace aging skiers/boarders?
If you know of data showing the opposite, that is, a trend towards growth in overall skier visits, I'm interested in that too.
Thanks.
post #2 of 23
Actually annual visits set an overall record for the 2005/2006 ski season. Skier visits have been very strong in recent years, with a record set back in 2002/2003 as well.

There is a report published by RRC called the Kottke Report. It is presented each year to the NSAA.

Here is a link to the current estimates for 05/06 and previous years:

http://www.skipressworld.com/MT/mt-search.cgi?Template=skipressworld_canada&IncludeBl ogs=2&IncludeBlogs=3&IncludeBlogs=4&IncludeBlogs=9 &IncludeBlogs=13&IncludeBlogs=12&IncludeBlogs=18&s earch=Kottke

It loads a little slow.
post #3 of 23
I was going to say the same as migibs. "Declining' skier visits is actually not true. US skier visits has been on the rise during the 2000s at somewhere around 3% per year.

Powdr
post #4 of 23
I think what you want is the actual number of skiers. Or at least new skiers. The number of skier visits may indicate the same number of individuals going sliding more frequently either because they have more enthusiasm or because they have more time/funding for the activity (such as recent retirees with healthy pensions). The slow growth in the number of skier visits may be good for destination resorts, but usually means fewer visits to little local ski hills.
post #5 of 23
NSAA has a stats page that may help.

As I understand it, skier visits stats include snowboard visits. The "participants stats" look interesting. Starting in 2003, the number of skier participants started dropping noticeably and was not made up for by increases in snowboard participants. However, this is only a 2 year trend. Later years are not published here yet.
post #6 of 23
Figures never lie, but liars can figure.
If you are asking for a raise the boss is gonna tell you that skier visits are dropping. When they are asking the BoD for more $$ for that new high speed quad, then they bring out the graphs that show tremendous increase and that is why they need the new lift for all those new sliders.
post #7 of 23
I believe the overview of the stats are number of snowboader daily visitshave leveled off after years of increasing. Number of skiers that ski are decreasing as the have been year after year. The good news is the baby boomers that are still skiing are visiting the slopes more days per year.

My personal observations on the slopes on the east coast. Less teenagers on snowboards and more teenagers on twin tip skis. While at Jackson Hole this year, I noticed more snowboaders this year than in the previous 4 years at JH. None of this is scientific and its based on a limited number of east coast areas.

The real problem is important small feeder hills would make it possible for local schools to send a few bus loads of kids every week to ski and snowboard. Now with local small feeder ski areas closed, these same grade schools are lucky they send one bus load of kids for one day of skiing per year. The closing of small feeder hills next to metroplotan cities , significantly impacts the long term skier/snowboarder visits.
post #8 of 23

Top Ski Destination States?

: So let me get this straight: the top three ski states by number of resorts are New York, Michigan, and Wisconsin???? The things that the NSAA statistics will show you.....

Actually when I take a look at the stats on incomes for skiers, it sort of explains the results of the poll in another thread...
post #9 of 23
Those ski area by state stats probably are including cross country tracks. Yahoo reports 24 downhill and 14 XC resorts in Michigan vs the 44 reported by NSAA.
post #10 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by gnjantzie
: So let me get this straight: the top three ski states by number of resorts are New York, Michigan, and Wisconsin???? The things that the NSAA statistics will show you.....

Actually when I take a look at the stats on incomes for skiers, it sort of explains the results of the poll in another thread...
It's not saying they're the top destination states, like your title says, it's just saying they have the most number of ski areas (not skier visits)... that doesn't surprise me at all, small hills can survive in places like NY and PA, only a handful have been able to survive in destination states like CO and UT.
post #11 of 23
As others have noted, statistics can be tricky.

Part of the trickiness in "skier visits" is how you count season passes. Traditionally (to my limited knowledge), areas have counted a season pass as 20 skier visits. I think some (maybe most or all) still count season passes that way, despite the advent of "cheapy" season passes that probably get used a lot less than that (and certainly generate less revenue to the area).
post #12 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by catskills
The real problem is important small feeder hills would make it possible for local schools to send a few bus loads of kids every week to ski and snowboard. Now with local small feeder ski areas closed, these same grade schools are lucky they send one bus load of kids for one day of skiing per year. The closing of small feeder hills next to metroplotan cities , significantly impacts the long term skier/snowboarder visits.
An important insight is worth repeating.
post #13 of 23
Six percent growth in my valley. Why? Because it snowed here.
post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by justanotherskipro
Six percent growth in my valley. Why? Because it snowed here.
That's great but that 6 percent was not because you had 6 percent more new skiers and snowboarders. It was because the skiers and riders that have being doing this for years have more time (more vacation days or retired) and/or decided to spend more days out on the hill because of better snow conditions.

Long term ski industry growth should be measured in how many people and in what age group participate in the sport and not how many skier visits there are. If the number of people skiing and riding is declining with the population increasing, just maybe something is very wrong in the industry.

Personally I think it has a lot to do with economics. The rich are getting significantly richer and the poor are getting less and less. The middle class is getting hit with higher income tax brackets (e.g. AMT). The minimum wage is another excellent example. How many raises has congress given themselves since the last federal increase of minimum wage. :

On the other hand its not about skiing and riding is it. Its about selling real estate next to the ski areas. I almost forgot.
post #15 of 23
Why all the negative stuff? More skier visits means more people are buying our products. Those repeat guests liked what they did enough to come back and purchase more of our products. They are also the most likely source of new skiers.
post #16 of 23
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Edited by tam - 6/14/16 at 5:42pm
post #17 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by tam
Actually many resorts have the ability to count actual season pass usage (due mainly to new scanning and reporting technology), so larger resorts typically report actual season pass usage.
Many resorts (most, I suspect) do not have that ability.

The methodology used in what gets reported to the outside world may depend on what impression the reporter is trying to create. That often is, "We had more skier-days than our competitors."
post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by sjjohnston
Many resorts (most, I suspect) do not have that ability.

The methodology used in what gets reported to the outside world may depend on what impression the reporter is trying to create. That often is, "We had more skier-days than our competitors."
the last resort I visited that didn't have that capability had 2 lifts, and everyone working there was related to everyone else.
post #19 of 23
It seems to me there are getting to be fewer small independent areas at least around NE. Then again the need for snowmaking is causing prices to rise a lot. Take a look at nelsap.org to find all the old lost ski areas that don't exist anymore.

It's seem that at ski only places like Deer Valley and Alta the age is higher because of no boarders. I have to admit I like ski only but there's no way most of the resorts could do this.

So if you include boarding I bet overall things could be growing. Whatever keeps the mountains open and operating (and less expensive if possible) is good by me.
post #20 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty
Those ski area by state stats probably are including cross country tracks. Yahoo reports 24 downhill and 14 XC resorts in Michigan vs the 44 reported by NSAA.
That 44 ski areas in Michigan should all be done hill. Take a look at: http://www.skitown.com/resortguide/statemap.cfm/mi and you see 40 down hill areas listed. There are a few other real small ski areas that are not on that site. Michigan might lack in mountain size, but there is a lot of fun in the snow including skiing. Even the ski hall of fame is there.
post #21 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by tam
Actually many resorts have the ability to count actual season pass usage (due mainly to new scanning and reporting technology)...
It produces inexact information, however. There are "scanner dudes" who can capture the barcode just about every time, and then there are those who can't get the equipment read more than 25% of the passes they try to capture. For skier visits, as long as at least one liftie catches you during the day, you count. Trying to capture and mange mountain traffic flow has a ways to go.
post #22 of 23
Many of the big areas are as concerned with selling real estate these days - perceived to be a more stable revenue stream than weather-dependent snow sports.
post #23 of 23
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Edited by tam - 6/14/16 at 5:39pm
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