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Former state Sen. Bill Cadman hits the slopes in Breckenridge in March just before the state shut down ski areas in the face of COVID-19.

A report from the Snowsports Industries of America forecasts a 29% increase in participation for winter outdoor activities this season, at the same time that ski resorts have imposed capacity limits due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Summit Daily reports that a SIA survey of 1,075 responses indicated a rise in enthusiasm about the winter recreation season, though it's still relatively small compared to the increase in summertime outdoor activities. Bicycling saw a 59% increase in participation, and paddlesports experienced a 54% rise this year.

Reservations early in the season for Keystone and Breckenridge filled up quickly this year under a self-imposed capacity limit, while Vail Resorts indicated it was “tough to give precision” around its capacity numbers.

Caps range from 600 people per day in the Arapahoe Basin ski area to 5,000 people at Wolf Creek, according to Summit Daily. The state’s COVID-19 guidance for ski resorts and operators included recommendations to promote online purchases and implement flexible cancellation policies, but there were no blanket limits on capacity.

Overall, core participants remain excited about the upcoming season, and most hope to increase their participation in snowsports (among other outdoor activities), if possible,” the industry report indicated. “However, while there could be a moderate bump in spending (particularly for non-resort activities), any increase will likely not be of the magnitude seen for bicycling and other non-winter sports seen in the spring and summer.”

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