Sizing up the season |

Sizing up the season

Lynn Burton
Post Independent Staff

Sunlight Mountain Resort logged its third best season in history this year, but caught an edge and tumbled in one important skier category.

In recent years, the mix between thrifty locals and freer-spending destination skiers has been evenly divided, said Sunlight general manager Tom Jankovsky. This year, the split was 65 percent local skiers to 35 percent destination skiers.

“That’s a trend we’d like to see going the other way,” Jankovsky said.

For the 2002-03 season, which ended April 6, Sunlight recorded 94,300 skier days – a 14 percent increase over the 2001-02 season. The previous best marks were just over 100,000 skier days in the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons, Jankovsky said.

Statewide through February, skier and snowboarder visitor numbers were up 7.7 percent over the previous season year, according to Colorado Ski Country USA.

Jankovsky credited 6,400 skier days in November for the boost in Sunlight’s season total.

“That definitely helped us get off to a good start,” Jankovsky said.

December was strong, and January was “fabulous,” Jankovsky said, but skier numbers started to slide in February and March. Jankovsky said he and others at Sunlight think the shaky economy and threat of war earlier in the year might have kept out-of-town skiers and snowboarders away from the slopes the final two months of the season.

“We can’t blame it on the snow,” Jankovsky said.

Glenwood Springs has not yet released its lodging tax numbers for March, said Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association marketing director Lori Hogan, so it’s difficult to gauge how March stacked up compared to previous years.

“But we were down a little in February,” Hogan said.

Hogan said she has talked with Sunlight’s marketing department, and is surprised that the destination skier ratio isn’t as favorable as in past years.

“We did a good job of selling the ski/swim/stay package,” Hogan said.

That package ties in skiing with swimming at the Hot Springs Pool in Glenwood Springs, and local lodging.

Sunlight, founded in 1966, has always relied on church groups, especially from Texas and Oklahoma, to boost its Christmas season and spring skiing numbers.

“They just weren’t there this year,” Jankovsky said. “And we can’t say why.”

With fewer destination skiers, Sunlight revenues from food sales and equipment rentals were also flat compared to last year.

“We didn’t break any records in any of those categories,” Jankovsky said.

Despite the lower destination skier days, Jankovsky said he is thankful for the local skiers who continue to support Sunlight.

“We are driven month by month by those local skiers,” he said. “That’s the beauty of our ski area. We have destination skiers and locals.”

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534

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