Still no ski area contract

ASC report states company in talks with 'potential purchasers'

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— Nearly three weeks into the season, and still no news on a potential sale of the Steamboat Ski Area.

"There is currently no contractual agreement regarding the sale of the resort between the company and any potential purchaser," the American Skiing Company stated in its quarterly report, which was released Friday.

That could change any day now.

In July, ASC announced a "strategic review of business options" for the Steamboat Ski Area including a potential sale. The report also states ASC is in talks with a "small group of potential purchasers."

The report outlined ASC's performance for the first quarter of its fiscal year. The first quarter ended Oct. 29, but the report also gave an early-season report on how the company's eight ski resorts are performing.

"Through Dec. 3, our total skier visits for the season-to-date were significantly lower than through the same date last year," the report stated. "The entire shortfall was at our eastern resorts and was a result of warm weather, which limited snowmaking activity, and (caused a) lack of natural snowfall."

Total skier visits during the first two weeks of the season at ASC's two western resorts - Steamboat and The Canyons in Park City, Utah - were even with last year.

Season pass sales at ASC's eastern resorts - Killington, Pico Mountain, and Mount Snow in Vermont, Sunday River and Sugarloaf/USA in Maine and Attitash in New Hampshire - were pacing "slightly behind" last year.

The western resorts are compensating for that shortfall. Company-wide, season pass sales are outpacing last year by three percent.

Hotel bookings at ASC's eastern resorts also are down for the season compared to last year, but an increase in bookings at Steamboat and The Canyons is making up for it.

Because the majority of ASC's revenues come in during the ski season, the first and fourth quarters mean significant losses for the company. For the first quarter, ASC reported a net loss of $45.3 million, about $5 million more than the first quarter last year. Increased costs led to the larger loss, but revenues rose about three percent compared to 2005, which ASC attributed to increased group and conference business at its western resorts.

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