Whistler and Blackcomb combined for a record 1,775,275 skier visits this past winter — a 24 per cent increase over last season, according to the Whistler Resort Association. The total is believed to be a North American record for skier visits in one season. Vail, Colorado has had the most skier visits, approximately 1.5 million each of the last few seasons. The record season locally included a 54 per cent increase in skiers from the United Kingdom and a 35 per cent increase in German skiers. Overall hotel occupancy rose by six per cent, with November and April seeing the biggest increases, 20 per cent and 13 per cent respectively. Exceptional snow conditions allowed both mountains to open earlier than expected and permitted skiing right to the valley. With a record 42 feet of snow during the 1994-95 season most runs on both mountains remained open all winter. By contrast, Vail had little snow at the start of the season. Three new high-speed lifts, Blackcomb’s Excalibur gondola and Excelerator quad chair and Whistler Mountain’s Harmony Express quad chair, also moved more skiers on the mountains. The low Canadian dollar was also a factor, providing favourable exchange rates for most currencies.