Aspen misses out on Ski top 10 |

Aspen misses out on Ski top 10

Steve Benson

While Snowmass retained its No. 4 slot in SKI Magazine’s annual resort rankings, Aspen Mountain fell out of the top 10.

Vail was ranked No. 1 for the second consecutive year, with Whistler/Blackcomb in British Columbia, Deer Valley, Utah, Snowmass and Steamboat Springs rounding out the top five.

The rankings were compiled through a survey of more than 20,000 skiers, and will be included in the magazine’s October issue.

Aspen Mountain fell to 11th, continuing a slide that began last year, when it dropped from fourth to eighth. Aspen Highlands came in at No. 14. Snowmass, however, has held steady, holding onto its No. 4 ranking for the second consecutive year.

“They have really secured themselves a spot in the elite rankings of ski resorts,” said Greg Ditrinco, the executive editor of SKI Magazine. “I think people are discovering Snowmass has an outstanding mountain, and if you can throw a base village in there, the sky’s the limit.”

According to Ditrinco, the two most common complaints about Snowmass were a lagging base area and no gondola. Snowmass Village is currently considering the construction of a new base village, which, among other amenities, would include additional commercial space, lodging and a gondola.

Ditrinco also attributes Snowmass Village’s high ranking to the demographics of his readers.

“Our survey is a reflection of the readers, and our reader’s average age is 37,” he said. “A lot of them have families, and Snowmass caters to our readers because it’s a family resort.”

Aspen’s slide is curious, but David Perry, senior vice president of the Aspen Skiing Co., isn’t too concerned.

“I always try to take a bit of a step back and view [the rankings] philosophically,” he said. “When it moves a few spots I don’t become alarmed, there are always inexplicable fluctuations.”

Last year, Aspen Mountain was ranked ranked 14th in scenery, this year it fell to 25th in the same category.

“What happened to Aspen’s scenery that changed it 11 points in one year?” Perry joked. “That’s just an example of some of the things that are difficult to explain.”

Furthermore, he said Aspen Mountain attracts a unique skier core that would not necessarily be represented in a SKI Magazine survey.

“I think we have the highest returning customer percentage in the business. We have a very high return rate,” Perry said.

And in the broad scheme of things, the Aspen Skiing Co. scored pretty high.

“If you add up the scores of our three resorts that are ranked, you’ve got three in the top 14, so we have a lot to be happy about,” Perry said.

Ditrinco thinks it’s important to keep things in perspective.

“Emotionally you want to be in the top 10 – it’s a popularity contest,” Ditrinco said. “It’s a wonderful snapshot of the ski industry, but it is only that.”

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