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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Snow tubing has come to rival cross-country skiing at NH ski areas

Snow tubing, once a minor sideline of the snow-sports industry, is almost as big as cross-country skiing in terms of paid visits in New Hampshire, according to data from most state ski areas over the past winter.

According to numbers released by Ski New Hampshire, an industry group that represents 33 alpine and cross-country resorts, more than 2.5 million skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing visits were recorded in the 2013-14 season. ...

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Snow tubing, once a minor sideline of the snow-sports industry, is almost as big as cross-country skiing in terms of paid visits in New Hampshire, according to data from most state ski areas over the past winter.

According to numbers released by Ski New Hampshire, an industry group that represents 33 alpine and cross-country resorts, more than 2.5 million skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing visits were recorded in the 2013-14 season.

Areas with snow tubing parks – downhill runs in which people ride large inflated tubes – reported 120,053 snow tubing visits, whereas cross-country areas recorded 147,259 paid visits last winter.

Just as importantly, snow tubing continues to grow – it was up 6 percent over the previous winter – while cross-country numbers are stagnant, showing a 2.9 percent decrease despite last winter’s excellent and consistent snowfall.

Both categories are still dwarfed by downhill skiing and snowboarding, which recorded 2.27 million visits last winter.

This data only reflects tickets bought at paid locations like Windblown Cross-Country Ski area in New Ipswich or tubing parks at ski areas like Pats Peak. It does not reflect the huge amount of cross-country skiing done for free on public lands or in back yards, nor all the free snow tubing done at places like Roby Park in Nashua or Bragdon Hill in Amherst.

Overall, 2013-14 winter visits to most New Hampshire downhill and cross-country ski areas declined slightly this past winter, although the year was still one of the 10 best on record for the industry.

Alpine ski areas recorded 2.27 million skier and snowboarder visits, a 0.2 percent decrease from the previous winter but 3.5 percent above the 10-year average, and the sixth-best downhill ski season on record for the state.

Cross country areas reported a 2.9 percent decrease from the previous winter, but a 10.4 percent increase over the 10-year average, and the ninth-best season on record.

Snow tubing visits were up 6.2 percent from the previous winter, and a 10.8 percent increase over the 10-year average.

Ski areas began opening snow tubing parks at the start of the century, seeking to lure non-skiers. The giant tubes, around 5 feet in diameter, are pulled up the mountain by tow ropes of the kind that once were used by skiers, so that riders can slide down the hill.

Ski New Hampshire data does not include nonmember resorts, notably the three sites owned by Peak Resorts: Crotched Mountain, Attitash and Wildcat.

Since 2000, Ski NH said, the state has recorded the Top 9 ski seasons on record.

An economic impact study conducted after the 2012-13 season showed a total of $1.15 billion dollars spent as a result of guests visiting state ski areas, with 91 percent of the total spent outside the ski areas themselves.

David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531 or dbrooks@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Brooks on Twitter (@GraniteGeek).