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May 2, 2012
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Vail: Skier visits down 24 percent at Northstar, Heavenly

The tough 2011-12 winter took its toll on a pair of big-name local resorts in the form of skier visits compared to the above-average winter a year earlier, according to statistics released Tuesday by Vail Resorts.

While lift-ticket revenue at all Vail resorts this season compared to last year was down just 0.3 percent, skier visits were down 12.6 percent — including a 24.2 percent decrease at Tahoe resorts.

The numbers include business from the start of the ski season through April 22, and do not include recently acquired Kirkwood Mountain Resort.

Skier visits for Vail's Colorado ski areas — Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone — were down 8.9 percent, the company said in a press release.

Across all of Vail during 2011-12 (again, excluding Kirkwood), revenue from ski school was up 0.3 percent while revenue from dining was down 4.0 percent; revenue from retail and rental was down 0.3 percent.

Total season-to-date revenue per skier visit from ski school, dining and retail-rental increased 13.4 percent compared to the previous season.

“This was one of the most challenging weather seasons in the history of the United States ski industry marked by historically low snowfall and one of the mildest winters on record,” said CEO Rob Katz in a statement. “These highly unprecedented weather patterns extended over much of the season including the key Christmas, Spring Break and Easter periods, adversely impacting terrain.”

Katz said the company's performance highlights the strength of its season pass programs as well as its snowmaking and grooming operations. He added that the company predicts its EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, debt and amortization) for the fiscal year to fall slightly below the low end of its “guidance” range issued March 6.

Season pass sales this spring have been strong and will be better than last year's spring sales, Katz said.

“This is particularly heartening considering the record high season pass sales we reported in spring 2011,” Katz said. “This creates early momentum for next year and reflects the loyalty and commitment we have from our customer base and their confidence that we will again deliver an exceptional experience in the coming ski season.”

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated May 2, 2012 06:28PM Published May 2, 2012 06:21PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.