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SAM Magazine—Conway, N.H., June 7, 2019—Ski New Hampshire hosted its annual conference and trade show in Meredith, N.H., June 4-5. At the conference, Ski NH president Jessyca Keeler reported that total visits—including alpine, cross country, and tubing—for winter 2018-19 were an estimated 2.3 million, up more than 100,000 over last year, or five percent, at the 32 alpine and cross country ski areas the association represents.SkiNHcheck

Alpine visits alone were up five percent, to an estimated 2.1 million, cross country visits were up two percent, and tubing visits were up a whopping 17 percent over the 2017-18 season. Total ski area visits and alpine visits were even with the 10-year average, and cross country visits were down from the average by about nine percent. Tubing visits were about five-percent higher than the average.

“The fact that we’re up over last year’s numbers is a testament to the season being strong,” said Keeler. She noted that a few key factors impacted the season’s performance against the 10-year average. Increased adoption of RFID and scanning technology across the state is providing resorts with more accurate visitor numbers than previously used estimates, which Keeler said typically results in a drop in reported visits.

Inconsistent weather was a factor as well. While visits were up early in the season and resorts made enough snow to stay open later into spring, the mid-season was slower thanks to the petering out of the November and December snowstorms and a lack of snow on the ground in Boston and southern New Hampshire.

Ski NH hosted NSAA President Kelly Pawlak and presented her with a $25,000 check for the newly formed Mountain Foundation employee grant program. The foundation will offer grants to industry up-and-comers to cover the cost of attending NSAA events. Applications for the first round of grants are due August 1 for the fall shows.

The conference also featured a number of notable sessions, covering topics such as Energy and Sustainability and Developing Employee Pipelines. The Energy and Sustainability meeting focused on an overview of New Hampshire’s 2019 policies and legislative agenda and its potential impacts on ski area operations.

The Developing Employee Pipelines session continued a discussion from last fall about ways the ski industry can partner with state educational systems to fill positions and keep young people in New Hampshire. Ski NH also hosted a popular ops session with Gunstock and Prinoth that allowed participants to view some of Gunstock’s new ops features and Prinoth’s new Tier 4 engine and Stage V technology.

Report by Katie Brinton

Photo courtesy of Dave Gibson. View more on Facebook.