By the Numbers: Comparing Alpine skiing to mountain biking

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Scott Ford

Regions

New England states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont

Middle Atlantic states: New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania

South Atlantic states: Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virgina, West Virgina and Washington, D.C.

Mountain states: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming

— The National Sporting Goods Association released last month its 2013 Sports Participation Study. The report summarizes survey data collected in 2012 from more than 29,000 households nationally across 47 recreational sport activities. The activities range from archery to pingpong.

The NSGA report has some of the most credible data available because the survey and data analysis methodologies used are sound. The report is simply a snapshot providing insights into the demographic and social/economic profile of those who are participating in a specific activity.

I thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast the participants involved in Alpine skiing and mountain biking. These two recreational activities have relatively high profiles in Steamboat Springs. To be considered a participant in the context of this study, an individual would need to have participated in the recreational activity at least twice during 2012.

Alpine skiing

(Does not include snowboarding or cross-country skiing)

Demographics

In 2012, there were about 6 million participants nationally, which represented a 9 percent decline from the 10-year average. Of those 6 million, 73 percent were classified as occasional or frequent participants with almost 40 percent of the participants being classified as frequent. A frequent user in the context of Alpine skiing means they participated in the activity 10 or more times during the year.

In 2012, 60 percent of the participants were male with a median age of 32, and the greatest level of male participation is concentrated in the 18-to-24 and 35-to-44 age cohorts. These two cohorts account for about 25 percent of all participants. For women, the median age of participants was 28 with the greatest concentration of female participation occurring in the 12-to-17 and 45-to-54 age cohorts, which account for more than 18 percent of all participants.

Social/economic

From a numerical perspective, the middle Atlantic states have the greatest number of skiers nationally with almost 30 percent calling that area of the country home. However, residents of the New England states were almost 2 1/2 times more likely to participate in the sport than non-New England state residents. Mountain state residents were only slightly more likely to participate than non-mountain state residents.

About 60 percent of the participants were from households with an annual income of $100,000 or more. Nationally, households with annual incomes of $150,000 or more were about 3 1/2 times more likely to participate in the sport than households with annual income of less than $150,000. Of those participating in this activity who are 25 and older, more than 95 percent also were college graduates. About 7 percent of participants last year identified themselves as either African-American or Hispanic.

Mountain biking

(Off-road)

Demographics

In 2012, there were about 5.5 million participants nationally, which represents a 32 percent decline from the 10-year average. Of this group, 71 percent participating in the sport were classified as occasional or frequent participants with almost 20 percent being classified as frequent. A frequent participant in the context of mountain biking means they participated in the activity 30 times or more during the year.

In 2012, 70 percent of the participants were male with a median age of 36 with the greatest level of male participation concentrated in the 25-to-34 and 35-to-44 age cohorts. These two cohorts account for almost 35 percent of total participants. For women, the median age was 33. The greatest concentration of women is in the same two age cohorts as men. These cohorts account for 12 percent of the total. Simply put, almost half of mountain biking participants in 2012 were between the ages of 25 and 44.

Social/economic

From a numerical perspective, the south Atlantic states have the greatest number of mountain bikers with about 20 percent calling that area of the country home. However, residents of the mountain states are twice as likely to participate in the sport as non-mountain state residents.

About 33 percent were from households with annual income of $100,000 or more. Nationally, households with annual incomes of $150,000 or more were only slightly more likely to participate in the sport than households with annual income of less than $150,000. Of those participating in this activity who are 25 and older, more than 82 percent also were college graduates. About 12 percent of participants last year identified themselves as either African-American or Hispanic.

Scott L. Ford has lived in Steamboat Springs for 21 years and is the principal partner in The Pinnacle Economic Research Group. Ford can be reached at scottford@pinnacleeconomics.com.

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