Tahoe resorts report second busiest season in history | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe resorts report second busiest season in history

Greyson Howard/Sierra Sun

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – With summer sweltering the area with heat, Lake Tahoe ski resorts have tallied numbers from the 2009-10 season, announcing a 17 percent increase in skier visits.

According to a Friday announcement from Ski Lake Tahoe – a group composed of Alpine Meadows, Heavenly, Kirkwood, Mt. Rose, Northstar-at-Tahoe, Sierra-at-Tahoe and Squaw Valley USA – 2009-10 was the second busiest season ever for Tahoe, and more than four times the national average recorded by the National Ski Area Association.

The resorts attributed the visitor influx to the more than 600 inches of snow that fell – double the national average – and a long winter with some ski lifts operating from Halloween through the Fourth of July.

“We had a great ski season,” said Heavenly Spokeswoman Aimi Xistra. “The snow conditions were phenomenal and we’re looking forward to next season.”

Consistent snowfall helped, with early season skiing coming from El Nino storm systems and supplemented by snowmaking and spring storms that left resorts with mid-winter conditions and base depths at more than 100 inches to finish the year.

“The combination of reliable snow conditions coupled with unbeatable vacation deals and a totally unique, memorable winter experience has become the trademark of the Ski Lake Tahoe resorts,” said John Wagnon, president of Ski Lake Tahoe.

A number of promotions and packages helped draw visitors to Sierra-at-Tahoe, said Spokeswoman Kirstin Cattell.

“It was one of our best ski seasons on record and we attribute it partly to the deals we had out in the market place,” Cattell said. “People are very conscious of finding ways to save and we had deals that helped them continue to ski and snowboard and follow their passion without breaking their wallets.”

Reno-Tahoe International Airport’s decision to increase its number of airlines and the number of flights into the Lake Tahoe area also helped bring in larger crowds, according to Ski Lake Tahoe.

The Reno-Tahoe International Airport ranked No. 1 in the country in the percentage of flights it added since the third quarter of 2009, according to the Air Transportation Association.

In the past nine months, the airport added 17 new or seasonal flights to its schedule. The ATA reports that Reno’s 14.7 percent increase in flights leads the nation when comparing third quarter 2009 with third quarter 2010.

“When you’re talking about 17 new flights, you’re hitting a big range,” said airport Spokeswoman Heidi Jared. “That’s a big market. No matter what city you’ve added that can bring additional skiers, snowboarders and outdoor adventurers.”

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