Participation, Helmets, Olympians & Free Skiing

SnowSports Industries America (SIA) released its comprehensive 2012 SIA Snow Sports Participation Report on July 27th, with the headline that 6.9 percent of the U.S. population participates in at least one snowsport discipline.

Although SIA says the number of participants fell from 21 million to 19.8 million last year because of poor snowfall, it also reports that 10.2 million people participated in alpine skiing, 7.6 million participated in snowboarding, and 4.3 million people participated in cross-country skiing last year, with some obvious crossover between the disciplines. Perhaps most interestingly, SIA also adds that 8.8 million people said they considered themselves skiers or snowboarders, but because of time constraints, have not made it to the slopes in the past two seasons.

Here are some other highlights:
• Alpine skiers (44 percent) and snowboarders (31 percent) make up three-fourths of all snowsports participants.
• Fifty-six percent  of the alpine skiers are concentrated in the following 10 states: CA, TX, NY, CO, PA, MI, IL, NJ, WA, and MA.
• Sixty percent of snowboarders are concentrated in the following 10 states: CA, NY, IL, PA, NJ, WA, MI, CO, WI, and VA.
• High-income earners account for large segments of participants, with 50 percent of alpine skiers and 37 percent of snowboarders, respectively, having annual incomes of $100,000 or more.
• Snowsports are becoming more diverse; minority ethnic groups make up over 25 percent of all participants.

NSAA Study Finds Helmet Use Growing

According to findings of the 2012 National Ski Areas Association National Demographic Study, 67 percent of skiers and snowboarders now wear helmets at U.S. ski areas, up 10 percent from the 2010–11 season.

According to NSAA, helmet usage among those interviewed nationwide has increased 171 percent since the 2002–03 season, when only 25 percent of skiers and snowboarders were wearing a helmet at the time. More importantly, nearly 80 percent of children aged 17 and younger now wear helmets on the slopes.

The survey also found that:
• 91 percent of children 9 years old or younger wear helmets.
• 81 percent of children between 10 and 14 wear helmets.
• 78 percent of adults over the age of 65 wear helmets.
• 53 percent of all 18- to 24-year-olds interviewed wore helmets, compared to the 2002–03 season, when only 18 percent wore helmets.

In Other News . . .
• The Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships are moving to Vail, Colorado, in 2013, after more than 30 years in Vermont, including 27 years at Stratton Mountain.
• Superstar swimmer Michael Phelps (who has 20 Olympic medals—an all-time record—at press time) told Us Magazine that he will retire after the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. As for what’s next, “I want to try and snowboard and ski,” he told the magazine.

• And according to First Tracks Online, after being closed for eight years, Utah’s Eagle Point Resort plans to reopen this season, with millions of dollars in on-hill improvements. As an enticement to out-of-state visitors, the area is offering unlimited free skiing to California residents all winter long. Other visitors can ski and ride for free on Thursdays in January.

Peter Kray

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