Is the cost of skiing pricing out the middle class?

5:41 AM, Dec 10, 2013   |    comments
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Heavenly Valley Ski Resort

SACRAMENTO -  Ski resorts throughout Northern California are celebrating over the recent cold snap which dumped a lot of snow in the mountains.  But at the same time, there is likely a bit of concern over what's happening to their customer base.  When it comes to the cost of skiing, it is now at the point where the middle class cannot afford to go anymore, according to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA).

Skiing has never been considered to be cheap, but the sport is seeing quite the shift in demographics in recent years.

According to the NSAA, in 2012, 54 percent of skier visits came from households earning more than $100,000 per year. That's number has increased 12.5 percent over the past five years.

When you factor in the clothing, equipment, overnight stay, and lift tickets, skiers can expect to pay more than $100 per day.

The costs are putting resorts in a difficult situation. Without a larger customer base, many ski areas are shutting down. In 1978, there were 700 resorts. In 2012, there were only 477.
And they're left trying to convince customers to head up to the mountains any way that they can.

The average weekend lift-ticket price last season was $85.52, which was actually a bargain compared to the $129 that skiers  pay at some of the more popular resorts.

Another issue for the skiing industry is a shift in age. Last year, the average age on the slopes was 38, compared to 34 a decade ago, according to the NSAA. Without more youthful customers to continue and grow the sport, the future of it could be in trouble.

One way to save money is to buy lift tickets in advance because they're usually cheaper.


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