The more Americans learn about the health and fitness benefits of snow sports, the more inclined they are to try skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing, says a new Harris Interactive survey sponsored by Snowsports Industries America (SIA), a trade association for the winter sports industry.

This survey, fielded two weeks ago, follows the successful launch of Winter Feels Good (WFG), a national consumer public awareness campaign designed to show how non-motorized winter sports can help adults and children stay fit and maintain healthy lifestyles through the winter months, regardless of their current fitness level. The launch took place this month on Capitol Hill and was supported by Congressman Mark Udall (D.-Colo.) and Congressman John Sweeney (R.-N.Y.).

According to a recent Harris Interactive online survey of 2,450 Americans, ages 18 and over, seven percent participated in a snow sports activity (downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing or snowboarding) in the last two years. Yet, three times as many adult Americans – 21 percent of the total – say they would be more inclined to try snow sports if they knew
more about their health and fitness benefits.

Specifically, respondents were asked, “If you knew more about the health and fitness aspects/benefits of downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing or snowboarding, would you be more likely to participate in any of those activities?”

Lynn Swann, chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, noted, “Americans need to be physically active all year long. The nation's alarming obesity statistics emphasize the need for programs offering physical activities in winter. The Council encourages Americans to try winter sports such as downhill and cross country skiing, ice skating, snowboarding and snowshoeing, and to sign up and log winter activities at the interactive website (, to earn Presidential awards during the winter months.”

The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports includes snow sports
and programs, such as those included in Winter Feels Good, in the President's
Challenge, the Council's new interactive Web site to track progress towards
earning Presidential awards for active lifestyles and physical fitness.

In addition, according to the survey, of the respondents that did not participate
in any snow sports in the past two years, 18 percent say they would consider
enjoying skiing, riding or snowshoeing if they knew more about its health and
fitness benefits. Surprisingly, among the snow sports that respondents are willing
to try, the study indicates a statistical dead heat between cross country skiing
and downhill, with snowboarding and snowshoeing tied for third and fourth place,

“These findings strengthen the need for a program like Winter Feels
,” said Diann Roffe, Olympic Gold Medalist in 1994 and Silver Medalist
in 1992. “This is an excellent campaign to promote the health benefits
of snow sports and to motivate Americans to get outside, enjoy the winter and
get fit.”

Adds David Ingemie, president of SIA, “Americans need more education about
the fitness benefits of snow sports including a fast growing segment, telemarking.”
“Accessibility and learning, especially for first timers have never been
easier. Snow sports are an excellent alternative for people interested in staying
healthy during the wintertime. Winter Feels Good seems especially timely
in light of the growing obesity epidemic in America.”

Winter Feels Good, part of SIA's Project Kids, was initially developed
in May and involves community outreach, education and media relations components.

ABOUT THE POLL: The survey was conducted online within the U.S. on Sept.
12-16, 2003, among a nationwide cross section of 2,450 adults (ages 18+). Figures
for age, sex, race, education, region and income were weighted where necessary
to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. “Propensity
score” weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to
be online.

In theory, with a probability sample of this size, one can say with 95 percent
certainty that the results have a statistical precision of plus or minus 3.1
percentage points of what they would be if the entire adult population had been
polled with complete accuracy. Unfortunately, there are several other possible
sources of error in all polls or surveys that are probably more serious than
theoretical calculations of sampling error. They include refusals to be interviewed
(non-response), question wording and question order, interviewer bias, weighting
by demographic control data and screening (e.g., for likely voters). It is impossible
to quantify the errors that may result from these factors. This online survey
is not a probability sample.