The National Ski Area Association recently issued a report stating that the number of older skiers is up dramatically in the past 10 years. According to the national ski area report, visitors over the age of 45 have gone up from 21% of the skiers on the hill to 33% of the national total.
At the local ski resorts, Dan Hansen with Mammoth Mountain Ski Area sent us their age numbers and it appears that Mammoth and June are bucking this trend of more older visitors by attracting younger skiers.
Whether or not advances in orthopedic surgery play a roll is not stated. Last season the industry tallied a record 60.50 million skier visits nationally, according to the report. The ski area association chalks this up to what they call the three generation phenomenon, as Baby Boomers ski at the same time as people who are young enough to be their children and grandchildren.
The national ski area association uses different age brackets, but at Mammoth Mountain, the percentage of the overall number of Baby Boomer skiers (between the ages of 44 and 62) has actually declined from 57% in 2003/04 to 42% last season. On the other hand, the proportion of younger skiers, (older than 16 but younger than 32 years old,) has gone up from 16% in 03/04 to 27% last season.
Younger skiers are on the rise at June Mountain as well as Mammoth. Skiers and Snowboarders in this younger bracket made up 30% of the June Mountain visitors in 03/04 compared to 37% last year.
How is it that ski resorts across the nation are reporting a higher percentage of older skiers while the younger market grows in Mammoth? Its due in part to the high number of families that come to the Eastern Sierra, according to Joani Lynch with Mammoth Mountain. She explained that a couple without kids may fly to places like Vail, but its easier for families to load up the minivan and head to Mammoth or June.
The second factor that keeps the ages young at Mammoth is the surf and skate culture of Southern California that easily applies to the snow, according to Lynch.
By the numbers, older visitors continue to come to Mammoth and June, to the tune of more than 40% of skiers, but there is still a healthy proportion of younger skiers and snowboarders interested in the sports that keep the winter economy rolling.