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Colorado ski industry officials say slow start to season to blame for fewer visitors

January 22, 2017 Updated: January 22, 2017 at 3:39 pm
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Fewer skiers are hitting Colorado slopes at this point in the season compared to a year ago, and the industry is pointing the finger at the sky.

Less snow meant a slower start to business, officials say with the release of first period numbers. Colorado Ski Country reported a 8 percent decrease in visits to its 22 member resorts through the end of December, while Vail Resorts, with four resorts in the state, counted a 13 percent drop. (The industry does not report specific numbers until the end of the final third period).

More skiers and snowboarders than ever were counted in Colorado a season ago, with El Nino granting early snow conditions not seen in 2016.

"Five ski areas pushed back their opening dates," said Chris Linsmayer with Colorado Ski Country. "We had a really warm fall."

But the association as well as Vail Resorts cited big turnouts toward the end of December as Mother Nature opened her bag of powder.

"Additionally, recent snowstorms in January have created outstanding conditions," said Rob Katz, Vail's chief executive officer, in a release.

Of the company's four Colorado resorts, Breckenridge has measured the most snow to date, with 178 inches as of Friday. Recent closures across Colorado's ski country have come as a result of too much snow, with Monarch Mountain and Arapahoe Basin each closing for a day last week due to avalanche mitigation in the their respective areas. Crested Butte Mountain Resort, with 223 inches to date, closed for a day as rapid snowfall made safety a concern.

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