31 Million Americans Say They Are Snow Sports Participants

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SAM Magazine-McLean, Va., July 1, 2011-SnowSports Industries America (SIA) reports that a total of 31 million Americans say they are winter sports participants. Of that total, 21 million were active winter sports participants in the 2009-10 season, including approximately 18.3 million skiers and snowboarders who visited alpine resorts, according to figures in the organization's annual Snow Sports Participation Report.

Another 10.5 million people said they consider themselves winter sports participants, but did not participate during the 2009-10 season. That brings the total number of self-proclaimed winter sports players to more than 31 million.

The SIA tally of participants is significantly higher than that reported by RRC Associates in its work for the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA)-about 10 million-and reflects a different method of counting. The SIA number comes from a survey of more than 38,500 households, and is part of a broader survey conducted by the Physical Activity Council, of which SIA is a member.

It's possible that the self-reported figures, along with some of the SIA report's weighting of the data (done to reflect the broader U.S. population), and the timing of the survey (it is conducted in January and February), skews the winter sports data. Still, while the self-reported participation in the report seems high-it would translate into more than double the NSAA-reported figure of 60 million skier/rider visits-the trend information in the report is likely to be more in line with the industry's conventional wisdom.

The SIA Report's definition of "winter sports" includes alpine skiers, telemark skiers, park and pipe (freestyle) skiers, snowboarders, cross country skiers and snowshoers. The Report reveals that many participants are active in more than one winter sport, and some in several. It also notes the other activities snow sports participants like best, including running, bicycling, skateboarding, surfing, walking, bowling, golf and more than 100 other activities.

Finally, the Report indicates where skiers and riders are sliding, including at resorts, resort side-country, non-resort backcountry and in urban and suburban settings.

Key findings in the report include:
• 7.5% of the total U.S. population (+6 years old) says that it participates in at least one snow sport discipline.

• Alpine skiers (44%) and snowboarders (31%) make up three-fourths of all participants.

• About 60% of the alpine skiers and 62% snowboarders are concentrated in ten states.

• High-income earners account for large segments of participants; 47% of all alpine skiers and 32% of all snowboarders, respectively, have annual incomes of $100,000 or more.

• Snowboarding is a young man's game; two-thirds (66%) of the participants are males, and 64% fall between 13 and 34 years of age. Males comprise 60% of alpine skiers, and 44% fall between 13 and 34 years of age.

• The number of snowboarders who also ski went from 26% in 2008-09 to 34% in 2009-10.

• Snowboarders say they participate, on average 58% more days (11.7) than alpine skiers (7.4).

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