Colorado ekes out new skier record |

Colorado ekes out new skier record

Dominique Taylor/Daily file photoAnnemarie Wall blasted through the powder after a spring storm on Vail Mountain in April. The state set a record for skier visits this season.

COPPER MOUNTAIN ” Bad snow in New England, California and Europe meant good business for Venture Sports in Avon this year, said owner Mike Brumbaugh

“One-hundred percent, for sure,” Brumbaugh said. “It sucks for them, but what can you do?”

Colorado saw record skier numbers for the second straight year with 12.56 million visits for the 2006-07 season, trade group Colorado Ski Country USA said Thursday.

Colorado’s 26 resorts captured almost a quarter of the ski business in the U.S. this year. The 23 percent market share is a new record.

Other areas of the country struggled with warm, dry weather this year.

“We benefited in Colorado from other regions not having a great start to the season,” said Bill Jensen, president of Vail Resorts’ mountain division and chairman of the National Ski Areas Association.

Jensen said he was encouraged that there was success across the board at Colorado’s resorts, including at its smaller “gems,” which include Ski Cooper, Sunlight and Monarch.

Another positive trend is more visitors from outside Colorado and outside of the country, Jensen said.

“That customer spends more money in our community, on travel and hotels and dining and retail and on the mountain in lift tickets and ski school,” Jensen said.

At the “Front Range destination” resorts, which include Vail, Beaver Creek, Copper, Breckenridge, Keystone and Winter Park, visitors were down 1.34 percent.

Heavy snowfall made it hard for Front Range visitors to drive up to Vail, Jensen said.

“It’s a reinforcement of the fact that heavy snowfall on the Front Range at Christmas and January tempered the enthusiasm of Front Range residents to travel through the snow to get to the mountains to ski,” Jensen said.

Plus, it was hard to measure up to 2005-06, when Vail and Beaver Creek had lots of snow, Jensen said.

Overall, Venture Sports had a good year, Brumbaugh said, but not as quite as good as they had hoped.

“If this is as bad as it ever gets, we won’t have it too bad,” he said.

Business in March wasn’t great, Brumbaugh said, citing the warm weather then. But the season got off to a really good start, he added.

“Early season was definitely off the hook,” he said.

Nationwide, ski areas got 54.8 million visitors last year, down 6.9 percent, according to the National Ski Areas Association.

Vail had 1,608,000 visitors last year, down 4.1 percent. Beaver Creek had a record-breaking year with 890,000 visits.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or

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