In the wake of a recreational accident that claimed two lives, the number of visitors and total revenues at Hogadon Ski Area south of Casper were off significantly this past winter season. Revenue at the ticket window was $156,156, down from $217,382 in the 2009-2010 season. But, season pass sales were $241,000, up from $226,000, meaning total year-over revenues were off by minus 10 percent. At the same time, the number of visitors declined from about 18,500 in 2009-2010 to 14,390 this past year.
Ski area manager Gary Vantrease said it’s not clear how much of the decline was related to a Dec. 24 collision that killed a 23-year-old snowboarder and a 5-year-old skier and how much was a result difficult weather conditions. He added enforcement was stepped up, and he detected a different attitude among visitors regarding safety.
Hogadon was open six fewer days than the previous year, he added, and much better snow conditions at other regional ski areas may have diverted visitors away from Hogadon.
Prompted by perceived dangers at the facility and concerns over a ski culture criticized as profane and at times anarchic, more than 100 people attended a pair of public meetings in January, where they listed grievances and suggested improvements to the city-owned ski facility.
After the meetings, the Casper City Council encouraged representatives of Hogadon Ski Area to find ways to recruit more ski patrollers. Hogadon did so by bringing a request for optional 1-cent funds that includes money for new radios, a new ski patrol hut and helping new volunteers defray training costs. Since then, the ski area has installed more signage and speed controls on certain slopes and asked for the council’s permission to organize a citizen-led ski chaperon group.