Snow sports enthusiasts took to Chapman Hill Ski Area for the last day Sunday after a season of record attendance.
Like ski slopes around the state, the city of Durango ski area off Florida Road faced some increased unpredictability during the 2020-21 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But business was better than ever: Community members poured onto the hill, increasing attendance by 35% compared with the 2019-20 season, according to preliminary records.
Durango Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Metz said the increase was in part attributable to the pandemic. Hearing warnings of increased viral spread indoors, people sought outside fun, she said. Plus, the ski area offers an in-town terrain park, snowboarding, skiing and tubing.
“The reputation of Chapman Hill is growing with local residents and tourists,” Metz said.
The pandemic did change some operations at Chapman Hill Ski Area, including the location of daily pass sales. To meet San Juan Basin Public Health occupancy load requirements, daily tickets were sold out of the Chapman House instead of inside of the pavilion.
That’s one change that might stick, Metz said. It helps ease congestion and is more convenient for users.
The ski area’s 2020-21 season also ended with a new tradition, Chapfest, a snow sports send-off with activities and music.
While there were no competitions, athletes spent the day showing off their skills, passing through the rail park and finishing off with a pond skim.
Prizes were handed out to participants who demonstrated “a passion and determination” to complete the challenge. Notable athletes included Parker Wildman and Romeo Wilson, Metz said.
“Chapfest was a huge success and the start of a tradition,” Metz said. “We hope to have more information on expectations for the 2021-22 season in the near future as the city considers capital improvements for the 2022 fiscal year.”