In its annual marketing report, released last week, the nonprofit trade association Snowsports Industries America (SIA) states that the snow sports industry made $2.5 billion in the 2014-15 season, with overall participation up but a drop in the average days of participation, according to its website. Data for the report was collected from May 2014 until August 2015 and took into account participation in snow sports, attendance to resorts, and equipment sales.
“The story the data told all season was [of] drought in the Sierras and a lack of snow at lower altitudes and late in the season in the Pacific Northwest,” Kelly Davis, the research director for SIA, told Outside on Wednesday. “That really hurt us.”
Cross-country skiing was hit particularly hard in both sales and participation. Sales of hard goods, such as skis and snowboards, also decreased, though Davis said that this was easily explained by the lack of snow in some regions. And millennials aged 18 to 24 continued to pose a challenge to retailers, who saw a partition slump. Hardest hit in the resort category was the Pacific Northwest, which experienced a 32 percent drop in visits. “And the Sierras, I can’t say they were down that much because it’s been shitty there for four seasons,” Davis said.
The big winners, however, were clear: Alpine tour (AT) skiing saw its partition and gear sales increase—despite a lackluster season in the Pacific Northwest.
“That was a surprise, considering what happened [with the weather],” Davis said. “To see that continue to rise told me that there’s still plenty of life in the Rockies, in terms of AT.”
Snowboarding also saw a boost. Despite being lamented as in its death throes, the sport saw an increase of 17 percent in the under-17 crowd. “To see it being picked up by the children of Gen X is just awesome,” Davis said.