By George Schissler
(August 2012) For many of us it may be a bit too early to seriously think about snow and skiing but it is the time of the year that Snow Sports Industries America (SIA) releases its annual Snow Participation Report detailing snow sports participation, trends, demographic profiles and major differences between core and casual participants. The report covers alpine, telemark, park and pipe (freestyle) snowboarder, cross country skiing and snowshoeing enthusiasts. SIA surveyed more than 38,500 American households regarding their sports and leisure activities and has been delivering ski related data to the industry since 1954.
The report began by assessing the 2011-2012 season and as most skiers already know this past season a lack of snow inhibited participation in all categories except snowshoeing and telemark skiing. There were a reduced number of participants as well as the number of days participating. The result was that overall snow sports participation fell from 21 million to 19.8 million last season. Alpine skiers taking to the snow fell off 11% to 10.2 million; snowboarders dropped off 8% to 7.6 million and cross country skiers declined 5% to 4.3 million (numbers include participant duplication in multiple activities). Also an additional 8.8 million people said they considered themselves skiers or snowboarders but have not participated in the last two seasons mostly due to time constraints.
The report also reveals that 6.9% of the total U.S. population (6 years and older) participate in at least one snow sport discipline. Alpine skiers at 44% and snowboarders at 31% make up three-fourths of all participants.
Fifty-six percent of the alpine skiers are concentrated in ten states: CA, TX, NY, CO, PA, MI, IL, NJ, WA and MA. (It’s odd to note that Massachusetts is the lone New England state listed in this portion of the survey).
Sixty percent of snowboarders are concentrated in CA, NY, PA, NJ, WA, MI, CO, WI and VA. No New England state is listed among the leaders here.
Income played a big part with 50% of alpine skiers and 37% of snowboarders respectively having annual incomes of $100,000 or more.
Minority ethnic groups made up over 25% of all participants as snow sports became more diverse.
There is one last SIA statistic to be questioned: It’s not that 19.8 million ski, snowboard and snowshoe participants burned a total of 332,386,750 calories sliding on snow—enough activity to burn off about 475,000 cheeseburgers or 2.2 million beers. BUT alpine skiers were credited with consuming only 1,020,100 beers. That can’t be accurate at all! They must not have credited New England in this category either. Come on, New England. Drink up and have a great 2012-2013 ski season.
By George Schissler