Celebrating a successful winter season, supporters and friends of Vermont’s ski industry joined the state’s Alpine and crosscountry ski areas at Killington Resort on June 7-8 for the Vermont Ski Areas Association’s 54th Annual Meeting.
Despite initial weather challenges in the first half of the season, Vermont’s alpine ski areas reported 4.1 million skier visits—a 10% increase over the 2021-22 season and 3.6% above the 10-year average. A skier visit is defined as one person skiing or snowboarding for one day. Vermont gained additional market share, outpacing both the Northeast region’s 3.8% growth and 6.6% growth of the industry nationally, which equated to a record 64.7 million visits across the U.S.
With this news, Vermont remains the top ski state in the east and the fourth largest in the nation, with the state’s ski areas averaging 117 operating days — 4 days above the 10-year average of 113, and an average seasonal snowfall of 167 inches — a 25-inch increase over last year, but still 20 inches below the 10-year average.
“Such strong results, particularly in the face of several challenging weather scenarios, is a testament to the industry’s solid planning, aggressive capex investments in snowmaking, efficiency and sustainability, and hard work by ski area and resort operators and their teams to deliver the best Vermont experience for their guests every day. Thanks to expert snowmaking teams operating some of the most powerful systems in the industry, Vermont really shines in a season like this one, and the resulting strong skier traffic is not only important for ski areas, but also for the many Vermont businesses and communities that rely on that traffic for their success,” said Molly Mahar, president of Ski Vermont.
Despite mild weather in November, which presented snowmaking challenges, nine areas opened for Thanksgiving Weekend—the unofficial kickoff to the ski season. That same weekend Killington hosted women’s World Cup racing, an event that boosted the local economy by an estimated $6 million.
A large mid-December snowstorm helped double the amount of open terrain for the Christmas-New Year’s holiday break, one of three key business periods for the industry.
While early January and early February brought extended stretches of mild temperatures, again limiting snowmaking operations, March flipped expectations by coming in like a lamb and leaving like a lion. Starting with similar low-snowpack conditions as the 2022-23 season, March gifted skiers and riders with several massive snowstorms, blanketing several ski areas with over 36” and bringing the best conditions of the season. With a healthy snowpack and 100% open terrain across Vermont, March restored its reputation as the region’s snowiest month.
Several areas extended their seasons, with Jay Peak and Sugarbush skiing into May and Killington again offering the longest season in the East with skiing through Memorial Day weekend to June 1.
Skiing in Vermont is an important economic driver in the state, particularly in rural areas where many ski areas are located. Ski Vermont’s Fifth Grade Passport helps to get approximately 3,000 children on the slopes annually and proceeds from the program support Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports.
Vermont’s 27 cross country ski areas still reported a statewide total of 402,394 skier days, despite several weeks of mild weather forcing many to curtail operations for up to two weeks. This was a moderate increase over the previous season. Equally positive is the continued engagement by new participants who picked up the sport during the pandemic and have stayed. A majority (56.1%) of those cross-country skiers define themselves as “outdoor everything.”
VSAA’s Annual Meeting addressed a range of important topics, with presenters including Chauncy Johnson of the Snow Angel Foundation speaking about collision awareness and safety; Chief Don Stevens of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation discussing opportunities for collaboration and awareness with the Abenaki people; Commissioner Heather Pelham, Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing and Commissioner Josh Hanford, Vermont Dept. of Housing and Community Development.
Friend of the Industry Awards were presented to Michael Snyder, former commissioner of the Vermont Dept. of Forests, Parks and Recreation, and Bo Adams of MountainGuard.
Industry achievement awards were presented to Win Smith, former president and CEO of Sugarbush Resort, Bill Nupp president and COO of Stratton Mountain Resort and Dave Moulton, senior director of Mountain Operations at Mount Snow Resort.
A very special Founder’s Award was presented to Ralph DesLauriers of Bolton Valley Resort.