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Resorts like Snowmass saw plenty of skiers and riders. Photo: Chase Baker//Usnplash

The Inertia

The last two seasons in the ski resort industry couldn’t have been more contrasting. From 2019-2020, that saw most resorts close in early March due to the pandemic, to 2020-2021, that saw the fifth most skier visits on record to U.S. resorts. This information comes courtesy of a recent study released by the National Ski Areas Association, which said this week that some 59 million people visited U.S. resorts.

A skier visit is, quite simply, recorded anytime a skier steps on a lift at a resort. The best season on record was recorded in 2010-11. That’s when 60.54 million people were recorded taking trips to the slopes. The NSAA started keeping records during the 1978-1979 season.

“What a year it has been,” said NSAA CEO Kelly Pawlak. “From utter uncertainty to a top 10 season in terms of participation. It shows the wide spectrum that our industry bridged this year. We are proud of the collaborative adoption of COVID-19 best practices that all ski areas implemented and diligently followed from opening to closing day. Americans yearned for safe outdoor recreation, and ski areas across the country delivered.”

Some trends definitely stood out. According to the study, small to medium-sized resorts (town mountains and lesser known resorts) had great years, as more skiers and riders chose to ride their local hills more often than traveling afar.


According to a separate study by Ski Utah, that state set record numbers this year, seeing almost 5.5 million skier visits despite a down snow year. According to the NSAA study, the Pacific Northwest also saw record numbers. While the pandemic certainly brought despair to many aspects of American life, one thing is certain: people fought through it and still found a way to shred by adjusting to COVID protocols in record numbers.

Read the entire release from the NSAA, here. 




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