(Courtesy Ski Utah)

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - The Utah ski and snowboard industry announced a preliminary estimate of 4.2 million skier day visits during the 2010-11 winter season. Thirteen of fourteen Utah ski and snowboard resorts have concluded their seasons with Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort’s closing date still pending at press time. This estimate suggests the 2010-11 winter season was up four percent from the previous year making 2010-11 the industry’s second best season on record. The National Ski Areas Association defines ‘skier days’ as one person visiting a ski area for all or any part of a day or night for the purpose of skiing/snowboarding. Abundant early season and record snowfall, and a boost in consumer confidence are credited with contributing to the increase.

“We are thrilled to see such significant growth from this season,” remarked Ski Utah President Nathan Rafferty. “Although Utah is famous for the quality and quantity of its snow, this season may have actually delivered too much of a good thing.” Rafferty noted that heavy snowfall and other weather related issues adversely affected resort operations and transportation around key holiday periods deterring many skier visits.

Other important factors contributing to the season’s success include a steady stream of industry improvements, collaborative industry marketing efforts and the number of resulting accolades earned by Utah resorts. The Utah ski and snowboard industry contributes over $1 billion dollars to Utah’s economy each year and creates more than 20,000 jobs. The 2011-12 winter season will mark the ten year anniversary of the Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games. Utah has seen a 41 percent increase in skier day visits since hosting the Winter Games.

Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort has received a record 760 inches of snowfall this season and currently plans to remain open on weekends for skiing (Friday- Monday Memorial Day Weekend and Friday-Sunday subsequent weekends) through at least the first two weekends of June with a possibility of extending the season even longer depending on weather/conditions. The latest Snowbird has remained open for skiing was July 4 during the 1994-95 and 2004-05 seasons. As the Resort is currently reporting a 175-inch mid-mountain base depth, the chance for a repeat does not seem unlikely. For more information visit SkiUtah.com.

Total Utah statewide skier days for the past six years are as follows:

Season Skier Days Rank

2010-11 *4,200,000 2

2009-10 4,048,153 5

2008-09 3,972,984 6

2007-08 4,249,190 1

2006-07 4,082,094 3

2005-06 4,062,188 4

*Estimated total: exact number to be released upon completion of Snowbird Ski and Summer Resorts 2010-11 ski and snowboard season.

For a complete history of Utah’s skier days visit http://www.skiutah.com/media/story_starters/utah-skier-days-table.