The SIA/Physical Activity Council 2014-15 Participation Study
published by Snowsports Industries America (SIA) gives a clear picture of the cross country ski population in the USA. In a nationwide survey conducted with more than 40,000 people it was projected that there were 4,146,000 cross country skiers in 2014-15 (last winter season). While this was higher than the previous year, the impact of weather makes year-to-year comparisons not trendable.
Other 2014-15 snow sport populations were:
alpine = 9,378,000; snowboard = 7,676,000; snowshoe = 3,600,000.
The age group information of cross country skiers showed 18% under 17; 13% between 18 and 24; 48% in the 25-44 age group, and 18% in the 45-64 age group, while 3% were aged 65 and above.
The gender of cross county skiers in 2015 according to the survey was 54-46 percent male-female as the percentage of female participation has declined over the last few years. Other demographic information included that 59% of cross country skiers had a household income above $75,000 annually and 52% had an educational level of a bachelor degree or higher.
The survey projections (from 2013) divided cross country skiers in the USA by geographic region.
There was 15.9% of cross country skiers in the Pacific states, 18.2% in the MidAtlantic (NJ, NY, PA) region and 10.4% in the Mountain region. The North Central region remained the largest representation of the cross country skier population with 26.7% and 8.7% of cross country skiers were in New England. The remaining 20% of cross country skiers were in the 17 states of South Atlantic and South Central regions. Looking at the geographic data another way, Nordic equipment sales in snow sports specialty shops in 2015 were 44% in New England, 28.5% in the Midwest and 26.6% in the west.
Cross participation in other forms of recreation showed that 44% of cross country skiers are runners or joggers and 43% enjoyed hiking; 39% go bicycling on roads or paved surfaces while 27% of cross country skiers enjoy yoga. 41% of cross country skiers also alpine ski.
The Participation Study looked at ethnic demographics and cross country skiing's largest group of participants are Caucasian 63%. The other groups amidst cross country skiing included 7% African American, 17% Hispanic, and 10% Asian or Pacific Islander.
The average number of days that cross country skiers participated was 7.2 days and 24% of them participated 9 days or more.
Having someone to go with was the most significant factor that encouraged participants to go cross country skiing (61.9%). Other encouraging factors had similar statistics in the mid-to-high twenty percentages including being able to go cross country ski locally, getting a lesson, having new equipment, being in better health, having more vacation time, and fewer work commitments. Can more people overcome these obstacles to become cross country skiers? Thanks to Kelly Davis, SIA Director of Research for sharing the study findings with XCSkiResorts.com.