SnowSports Industries America (SIA) released their yearly report that details the various trends observed within the ski industry over the past season. We all know that the 2011/2012 ski and snowboard season saw lackluster snowfall which led to a deficit of resort visitors, however, through this 2012 SIA Snow Sports Participation Report we can see that the situation is not as dire as one would expect.
Based on a survey of over 38,500 American households, the report covers key aspects of the snow sports industry to accurately characterize the state of sport and leisure activities. Thanks to a partnership with the Physical Activity Council, SIA’s report provides a comprehensive evaluation of participation, demographic profiles and the differences between skiers and snowboarders that would be considered core versus casual participants. The study also focused on each particular snow sport niche, including alpine, telemark, park and pipe (freestyle), snowboarder, cross country skiing, and snowshoe enthusiasts.
According to the report, this past season’s lack of snowfall diminished participation in all categories except snowshoeing and telemark skiing. Snow sports as a whole fell from 21M to 19.8M. Another 8.8M described themselves as skiers or snowboarders, however they have not participated in the last two seasons (with time constraints cited as the cause). Alpine ski participation fell 11% to 10.2M, snowboarding participation declined 8% to 7.6M and cross country skiing participation fell 5% to 4.3M participants.
Although the industry saw drop in 8-11% for skier and snowboarder visits, one could easily fall back upon the age-old saying, “it could have been worse”. For a winter season that saw roughly 41% of the typical snowfall needed for a fulfilling season — the decrease in visits and revenues should have been astronomically worse! Thanks to advancements in snowmaking technology, resort marketing initiatives focusing on season pass sales and a demographic that possesses burning passion for shredding — the industry managed to minimize its potential loses.
Furthermore, the optimism for the upcoming season and steadfast mentality exhibited by a wide majority of both industry members and participants is beyond impressive. SIA announced back in May that they had already reached capacity for booth space at next year’s Snow Show in Denver. To maintain such high level of enthusiasm in spite of such hardships is extremely telling of what the future holds for the industry.
Forecasts and Powderchasers have already begun calling for snowfall levels to return “back to normal” during the upcoming 2012/2013 season. Mountain resorts continue to make great strides implementing cutting edge technologies and improving facilities. Most importantly, after the snowfall drought during the 1980/1981 winter, we saw a 22% increase the very next season! Quite simply, there is a lot to look forward to.
We will persevere. Get excited. Let’s go skiing!