Hockey is not a cheap sport either. But it's probably cheaper in places like upstate NY where you can use naturally frozen ponds as well as indoor rinks.jamesdeluxe":mj779sia said:Same deal for me west of Syracuse. Skiing back then was only for rich kids -- I played hockey.ChrisC":mj779sia said:My family - my mother's family - is all from Binghamton - and I was lucky that I got to ski. I was lucky that I got to ski. Skiing was something incredibly elite.....doctors or dentist's sons.
Yes skiing was even more an elitist sport in its formative years, which surely means at least through the 1950's. Which brings to mind the question, "When if ever was skiing not an elitist sport in the US?"
I suspected the answer based upon the data set of Mammoth skier visits, which more than tripled between two excellent (for apples-to-apples comparison) seasons in 1968-69 and 1977-78. FYI Mammoth's skier visits 2015-16 to 2018-19 averaged about the same as in 1977-78.
A cursory Google search led here.
There was approximately a 40 percent increase in participation in skiing in 1979 over 1976, on top of an approximately 40 percent increase between 1973 and 1976. This has brought current participation in this sport of snow skiing to a level of 6.8 percent among individuals, which projects to approximately 14.6 million skiers.
That report is an interesting read, and reminds me of one of the ski guidebooks I bought in 1979.
Rapid growth of western ski terrain slowed in the 1970's, so authors like these predicted overcrowding and capacity limits. The Kottke Report has tracked US skier visits since 1978-79, when it was 50.2 million. Last year was 59.1 million and the record in 2007-08 and 2010-11 was 60.5 million. To no surprise with the advent of high speed lifts, I can tell you that the worst lift lines I've experienced by far were those in the late 1970's.Collectively as many as 27.1 million people could be skiing in the future.
But what really happened since 1980? The current active skier/snowboarder population is estimated at 9-10 million, 3-4% of the US population. So the percentage of the US population that skis has fallen back to about what it was in 1973. The "popular era of skiing" with consistent growth looks to me to be maybe late 1960's to mid-1980's. US skier visits were flat from the mid-1980's to late 1990's.
All of this tells me that I'm a typical US skier in some ways. My first time was in 1976, right in the middle of that explosive boom period, and age 23 is in a common starting age range too. The people in my age cohort who started as kids were mostly an elite group.