Group: Skier visits down slightly |

Group: Skier visits down slightly

Susan Wood
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune file photo/ Theresa Pratt of El Dorado Hills breaks 2 feet of fresh powder at Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort this past winter.

California skiers and boarders cooled their heels a bit in taking to the slopes this past ski season, logging 7.8 million visits. Lake Tahoe areas contributed about half that attendance, the California Ski Industry Association reported.

This data comes off a record year for the Golden State of 8.1 million visits – a season in which Gov. Arnold Schwarz-enegger graced the slopes with Heavenly Mountain Resort staff in May 2005. He made a television commercial for the California Travel and Tourism Commission touting the activities of the state.

Overall, Lake Tahoe-area ski resorts reported 4.6 million skier visits this past year on both the north and south shores – 200,000 fewer than the previous season.

“This can be greatly attributable to the rain we had over the Christmas holiday,” said Bob Roberts of the state’s ski industry association.

With 1.02 million recorded, Heavenly brought out about 30,000 fewer skiers this past year – close behind its first million mark of the 2004-05 season.

In retrospect, that earlier season was tough to top for powder hounds. This past season was wetter than most, with much of the moisture landing over the Christmas-to-New Year’s holiday week.

In El Dorado County alone, residents and businesses received $9 million in flood damage.

“I think if you look at the number of skier visits we had in California and took out Christmas and the early season we match up pretty favorably to last year,” Heavenly spokesman Russ Pecoraro said.

Vail Resorts, the Colorado parent company of Heavenly, was up 6 percent from the numbers produced from all five resorts. Four of them are located in Colorado, where the Rocky Mountains experienced heavy snowfall this past ski season.

“That’s the strength of having diversity of ski resorts in different areas in our portfolio,” Vail spokeswoman Kelly Ladyga said.

Ladyga reported the company’s skier visits jumped 6 percent to 6.2 million, including Heavenly.

Despite a difficult season in the Pacific Northwest, last ski season is estimated to be the fourth best season on record for visits nationwide reported at 56.9 million.

This figure is down 1.2 percent from the record-setting 2002-03 season, the National Ski Industry Association reported.

Nicole Klay, spokeswoman for Sierra- and Northstar-at-Tahoe, said the resorts had some of their best seasons but declined to release the skier visits.

Phone calls to Kirkwood Mountain Resort were unreturned.

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