Snowboarding Reaches Critical Mass at Slopes.
More and more kids will be navigating the mountainside on snowboards, not skis, according to the third annual TransWorld Snowboarding Business/National Ski Areas Association survey, released in October. The poll of 232 resorts revealed that nearly one-quarter (22.4 percent) of their visitors in the 1997-98 winter season were snowboarders. Within five years, that figure is expected to increase to more than one-third (34.8 percent). And the group most responsible for growth in the snowboarding market are teens: overall, 59 percent of the snowboarding newcomers were teens who said they had "never-ever" been skiing and snowboarding, compared to only 4 percent of people over 20 who "never-ever" tried either sport. Another 26 percent of teens "crossed over from skiing," compared to 12 percent of people over 20.
With more snowboarders on the slopes, resorts are courting these new customers in a more aggressive, targeted way. Nearly all resort executives responding to the survey said their venues now offer rentals, lessons, repairs, and events related to snowboarding. More are starting to open snowboard shops and snowboard-specific trails.
Resort owners have also realized snowboarding's importance to the bottom line. More than three out of four resorts said snowboarding was important to their overall profitability. "Resort owners would be in a world of hurt if not for the dramatic growth in popularity of snowboarding," says Sean O'Brien, managing editor of TransWorld Snowboarding Business, which cosponsored the survey.
Women are taking to the boards in a big way. The study reveals that female snowboarders are expected to comprise 38.4 percent of all resort snowboarders in five years, compared with 29.5 percent in 1997-98. The largest resorts in the Rockies and the Pacific West are expecting the greatest rise in visits by women boarders.
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