Yesterday Ski Utah President Nathan Rafferty offered a “State of the Ski Industry” address to local media. He discussed last year’s record-breaking season, projections for the 2005-06 ski season, booking and snow statistics and spectacular media coverage.

Reflecting on last season’s “perfect storm,” he attributed the record-breaking winter to a lack of snow in other regions while Utah’s snowfall was 289% above average. Snowbird notched its longest ski season on record with 201 days – Nov. 5, 2004 to July 4, 2005. The snow arrived slightly late this year, but already snow levels are ahead of average – The Cottonwood Canyons are showing 121% of average and Park City is at 116% of average.

The 2004-05 season saw a record 3.9 million skier days in Utah which was a 12-percent increase over 2004, the previous record holder. Nationwide, according to the National Ski Areas Association, skier visits have been flat over the last several years, with numbers hovering around 57 million. “Utah is bucking that trend with two consecutive record-breaking years,” reported Rafferty.

Early booking numbers indicate that the 2005-06 season will be another healthy one for visitation. State-wide bookings are up 10 to 30-percent over last year, with many resorts booked for the December holidays. Rafferty sited the following lodging statistics for various Utah resorts:

  • The Canyons Resort – up 12% over last year
  • Deer Valley Resort – up 13% over last year. Trend is that guests are spending more money and plan to stay longer
  • Park City Mountain Resort – 27 % higher than where they were at this time last year. Christmas is 4 % more booked than last year at this time
  • Park City Chamber – Booking pace is ahead year over year. If they stay on the same pace they will have yet another record-breaking year for overnight visits
  • Alta – Bookings are just ahead of where they were last year. Dec. holidays are full • Snowbird – Lodging and season ticket sales are both up
  • Powder Mountain – booked Christmas week
  • Solitude – bookings tracking year-to-date for Solitude Resort Lodging are up over 30%
  • Sundance Resort – Up 6% over last year

Ski Utah’s Web site,, is also experiencing a remarkable increase in visits. There were 2.7 million page views for the month of November – a 25% increase over November, 2004.

Utah had a strong year in the media, receiving fantastic recognition for its ski areas. Readers of SKI magazine ranked Deer Valley Resort as the number one resort in North America, and Skiing magazine readers voted Alta/Snowbird the top resort in the United States for the fourth year running. Transworld Snowboarding gave Park City Mountain Resort the highest ranking for terrain parks for the second consecutive year.

Snow reporting is a key tool for our industry, and this winter Ski Utah is offering new ways to distribute the data. Local television networks show the snow report scrolling across the bottom of the screen during morning news programs. Popular technologies such as internet, RSS feeds, mobile web pages and customized email alerts are also being utilized to disseminate snow reports. Users will soon be able to sign up for customizable text message snow reports.

The momentum going into this season is strong as word continues to get out about Utah’s unmatched access and quality of snow. Delta Airlines is now offering non-stop service to Salt Lake City for all top 50 markets and has recently added flights to cities in California and the mid-west.

Rafferty said he looks forward to continuing a great working relationship with the Utah Office of Tourism. Finally, he urged locals to hit the slopes during these fantastic, early season conditions.