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Vail Resorts struggling as lift ticket sales fall, visits down

Skiers ride the Lift One gondola at Mid-Vail on March 27. (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News file)
Shares of company down 30% from this year’s high in February

Vail Resorts is having a rough time on Wall Street.

Shares of the Broomfield-based resort giant, whose Colorado holdings include Breckenridge, Keystone, Vail, Beaver Creek and Crested Butte, are down 30% from this year’s high in February. Investors started souring on the company in April. Shares took a nosedive this month after Vail reduced its revenue forecast because lift ticket sales fell short.

The company blamed the poor performance in part on a lack of snow. Snowfall this winter was down about 28% across its properties in the western U.S. compared with the previous year, Vail said in an earnings statement. Worldwide lift ticket sales were down 17% for the full year, while total skier visits fell 7.7%.

Skiers and snowboarders prepare to drop down the slopes of Breckenridge ski area, owned by Vail Resorts, in 2022, in Breckenridge. (Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun file)

“We believe (the decline) was driven by a combination of unfavorable conditions and broader industry normalization post-COVID following record visitation in the U.S. during the 2022/2023 ski season,” the statement said.

The early data suggests that next season might be slow, too. Sales of Vail’s Epic Pass for next winter are 5% lower than they were at this time last year. Revenue from pass sales is still eking out a gain over last year because prices went up 8%.

Ski season at resorts throughout Colorado got off to a slow start last winter because of a lack of snow. Things got better in the spring with a series of big storms. But the late-season bump wasn’t enough to make up for the lackluster beginning.

Visitation across Colorado’s ski resorts was down 5% this past winter, according to Colorado Ski Country USA, a trade group that represents 21 resorts.

To read more stories from Colorado Public Radio, visit www.cpr.org.