N.H. ski areas rebounded from season’s slow start

Despite a very difficult start to New Hampshire’s 2006-07 ski season, the number of alpine skiers taking to the state’s slopes declined only slightly, according to the trade group Ski NH.

The number of cross-country skiers increased from the previous season, the group said.

A total of 1,960,251 skiers visited New Hampshire’s alpine ski areas during the 2006-07 ski season, according to Ski NH. – a 3 percent decline from 2005-06. Snow tubing across the state also declined, falling 3.9 percent to 91,484.

The number of cross-country skiers, however, increased 15 percent to 99,231.

Despite the slight decline in skiers during the 2005-06 season, managers of New Hampshire’s ski resorts said they are satisfied with the numbers, given the season’s slow start and the fact that ski visits for the entire Northeast region were down 6.7 in 2006-07, said Alice Pearce, president of Ski NH.

“Considering ski area business was off by 50 percent in mid-January, to finish the season at nearly the same business levels as last season is pretty remarkable,” Pearce said. “There was pent-up demand, and once seasonable weather and snow arrived so did the skiers and riders.”

Warm weather and lack of natural snow lasted into early 2007. While improvements began in mid-January, winter in New Hampshire didn’t really take hold until Valentine’s Day. Once it arrived, however, it continued late into April, giving skiers ample opportunity to hit the slopes and ski resorts a chance to catch up.

“The second half of the season couldn’t have been better,” said Karl Stone, Ski NH’s marketing director. “We had consistent snowstorms that provided incredible skiing and riding conditions.”

In addition to the late but ample snowfall, New Hampshire ski officials are crediting the successful season to a mid-season marketing effort, which included a $175,000 marketing campaign in the greater Boston area.

“We applaud New Hampshire state officials for recognizing the importance of skiing and other snow sports activities to the state’s economy and working with the industry to help generate winter visits,” Pearce said.

Ski NH represents 37 alpine and cross-country ski resorts and more than 200 lodging properties in New Hampshire. – TRACIE STONE

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