The 2021-22 snow season is just about closed, with a few resorts that have been on the right side of the weather extending their lift hours to take advantage of the lingering snow.
It was a season marked by immense change, as the industry continues to grapple with the ongoing effects of Covid-19 and climate change but also sees increasing advancements in technology, sustainability and retail.
As of the conclusion of the 2020-21 season, 462 ski areas were in operation in the U.S., per the National Ski Areas Association, with 337 in the organization’s membership.
In the first season affected by the pandemic, 2019-20, the total number of ski and snowboarder resort visits nationally dropped to 51.1 million (from 59.3 million in 2018-19); however, as resorts learned how to safely operate during the pandemic—and also due to the natural cycle of resorts closing and opening—the number rose to 59 million in 2020-21.
Democratizing Access to Snowsports with Indoor Snowsports Facilities
The U.S. indoor snowsports industry is about to see a major expansion thanks to the arrival of disruptor Alpine-X. The Virginia-based development company plans to open its first venue, Fairfax Peak, in Northern Virginia in early 2025, followed by 20 to 25 more markets across North America.
Bode Miller, six-time Olympic medalist and the most decorated American Alpine ski racer of all time, announced in December 2021 he had joined Alpine-X as its chief innovation officer and an equity partner.
Though he is an elite skier, Miller knows how frustrating it can be for beginners to spend the time and money learning at an outdoor resort and not feel like they actually honed their skills. “We can provide an opportunity for a very smooth, easy introduction to the sport,” Miller told me. “People will certainly still get all the same thrill and excitement but also a level of comfort, not have this undercurrent of frustration that a lot of first-timers do have, all within a much more contained environment. All their needs are seen to in a much more thorough way.”