On June 5, Killington was still going strong with skiers and riders bashing the bumps on Superstar. Once again, the Beast of the East outlasted the rest for the longest ski season in the East.
But no one was counting those days as “skier visits.” Those had already been tabulated.
Nationwide, the number of skier/rider visits hit an all-time high this past season at 61 million. That beats previous records of 60.5 million that were set in 2010-11 and 2007-08.
Vermont Ski Areas Association released the annual skier/rider visit numbers on June 9 and following the national growth in ski area visits, Vermont’s also tracked higher, though not in the record-breaking numbers reported nationally.
During the 2021-22 season, the 20 areas that are members of Vermont Ski Areas Association (aka Ski Vermont) reported 3,762,047 skier days, up from 3,532,186 in 2020-21 and 3,664,326 in 2019-2020. (Note: A “skier day” counts a visit, not a unique skier.)
And those visits were not all to the big multi-pass areas. “We saw a 68-percent increase in skier/rider visits,” said Mike Hussey, the general manager of the Middlebury Snow Bowl. In 2022-23, the Snow Bowl will join the Indy Pass program, but this past season its tickets and season passes were sold independently of any other pass programs.
While Vermont saw skier/rider visits reach as high as 4,670,903 visits in 2014-15, and close to that in the two prior years, the move by many resorts to the new RFID ticket scanning machines may account for more accurate reporting in recent years, VSAA acknowledges.
The weather this past season and late openings at many resorts may have held back those numbers somewhat. Vermont areas averaged 116 operating days this past season, versus 111 last season and 110 during the Covid-shortened 2019-20 season. The previous 6 years, the average was over 130 days.
In fact, if you divide skier visits by the number of operating days, the 2021-22 season was slightly better than the 2018-19 season (the last season to break 4 million), with 2021-22 average 32,431 visits per operating day and 2018-19 coming in at 32,425 skier visits per operating day.
“Even under the best of circumstances, running a ski area is not for the faint of heart,” said VSAA Executive Director Molly Mahar. “Things outside your control like uncooperative and ill-timed weather and regulatory delays are everyday occurrences.”
The 2021-22 season was the second-lowest in average snowfall in the past decade, with only 142 inches reported. The only year that was worse was 2015-2016 which averaged 107.
Considering staff shortages, the lingering effects of Covid and a ski season that saw both bitter cold and bouts of rain, Vermont’s ski areas did just fine.