Skier visits to the 22 Colorado ski resorts declined 5.2 percent in January and February compared to the same period in 2011, according to Colorado Ski Country USA’s (CSCUSA). For the 2011/12 season to date, or August, 2011 through February,  2012, visitation at CSCUSA resorts was down 7.4 percent.

 “While some of our members are having banner years, this is a challenging season for most of Colorado, and the US ski industry as a whole,” said Melanie Mills, Colorado Ski Country USA President and CEO. “We’re comparing this year to last year, when many resorts saw record setting snow.”

Mills said a return to more normal weather patterns in mid-January has restored optimism in many areas. “Our members had very positive Martin Luther King and President’s Day weekends,” she said. “In January, conditions started to return to normal, giving resorts the opportunity to open more and more terrain, and by late February, we saw a dramatic improvement in snow conditions across the state.”

CSCUSA has 22 member resorts, including Arapahoe Basin, Aspen, Copper Mountain, Durango Mountain Resort, Eldora, Loveland, Silverton and Steamboat.

Last week, Mountain Travel Research Program (MTRiP) reported that advance reservations for the March through August period at western mountain resorts it tracks were running 3.4 percent above the same period in 2011 as of Feb. 29. That report showed on-the-books occupancy for March down 3.08 percent. MRTiP’s data is derived from a sample of 265 property management companies in 15 mountain destination communities, representing 24,000 rooms across Colorado, Utah, California and Oregon.