US Population Distribution vs. USAWS B/M Population Distribution

ToddLToddL Posts: 3,004 Mega Baller
So, is our sport declining or is it just following the population trends in the US? That’s what I was curious about.

I took the 2012 US Census data and converted the population by age into the equivalent USAWS age groups. Then, I represented those numbers as a % of total population by division, a.k.a. distribution of US population.
Next, I pulled up the USAWS 2012 Ski Year Ranking Lists for every boys/mens division and determined the total number of skiers on the list by division. Then, I represented those numbers as a % of total skier population by division, a.k.a. distribution of skier population.

As you can see in the chart, the two distributions are somewhat related. I see a bump around M2-M4 in the population, and a bump around M3-5 in skiers. We all know that skiing is expensive and M3-5 are more likely to be able to afford the time/costs to ski, so that I how I’d address the bump there.

What I also see is that there is a new US generation population bump coming with B1 ages. Thus, we need to prepare our sport to welcome and embrace these youth into the sport. They will become the M3-5 skiers in 2050.

Unfortunately, I see a population dip in B2/3 ages. In 2030-2040, these skiers will hit M3 divisions. That skier population bubble in M3-5 will be in trouble. By then the current M4/5 skiers will be M8/10 and likely declined in numbers to 60 or so active skiers.

-- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.


  • RazorRoss3RazorRoss3 Posts: 1,420 Mega Baller
    You clearly put in a lot of effort is my first thought. After that I'd say that it makes sense even before looking at the data the getting skiers hooked early is the best way to bring the new blood into the sport. Problem is that if a parent doesn't ski then B1 has no access. So the first step in growing the early divisions is to find a way to creat and advertise access.
  • Skoot1123Skoot1123 Posts: 2,173 Mega Baller
    @toddL - how does this compare with Girls and Womens division?
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 3,004 Mega Baller
    edited September 2014
    I haven't pulled the G/W divisions. I guess I could do so, and then combine them both into a total US skier population census for 2012. Next time I sit down long enough, I'll grab more data. (Which simply means refreshing the rankings list for each division, scrolling to the bottom, looking at the last place number and adjusting that number if there are any ties in last place.)
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • skinutskinut Posts: 445 Solid Baller
    I would say that the large distribution in the M-3 and M-4 group is also a result of the popularity of skiing during their formative years(mid 80's and early 90's). B-1 may have spiked because the M-3 and M-4 skiers are teaching their children how to ski and bringing them to tournaments.

    The reality of skiing is that it will continue to decline as the M-3 and M-4 skiers age. There may be some resurgence when the children of the M-3 and M-4 skiers are in the M-3 and M-4 age bracket. IMO this sport will continue to decline due to the popularity of wakeboarding and surfing, difficulty in finding a slalom course, and of course expense.
  • andjulesandjules Posts: 876 Mega Baller
    edited September 2014
    +1 to @skinut commentary.
    What no one has mentioned is the drop in M2 skiers, which I'd say largely coincides with the explosion of wakeboarding during their formative/teen years (mid-nineties, early 2000s), although it also coincides with that phase in life (early career, possibly starting a family) where making time (and $$) for skiing can be pretty challenging.
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 3,004 Mega Baller
    @andjules & @skinut I think formative years and wake sport draw is a factor, too. However, what is interesting is the small peak in M1 skiers. These skiers in that data were born between 1988 and 1994.

    Wakeboarding Timeline:
    1987 - The First Wakeboard Tournament
    1989 - The World Wakeboarding Association is founded by Jimmy Redmon.
    1990 - First Skurfer championships were televised by ESPN.
    1996 - Mastercraft boat company releases the X Star, a dedicated wakeboard boat which has continued to push the limits of the sport.
    1996 - Wakeboarding was added as an event to the second annual X Games on ESPN.

    By the time these kids were 10 (1998-2004), Wakeboarding was very visible and well established. Yet, they are slightly higher in number in the Competitive Slalom than their neighboring divisions (B3/M2).
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 7,054 Mega Baller
    edited September 2014
    This is some great, great data and visualization thereof.

    I'll tell you what I see: B2, B3, and M1 are *above* the population line, whereas M3 is almost exactly on it.

    And what it means is: Our sport is relatively more popular among B2, B3, and M1 than it is among M3.

    This data continues to support my "this sport is not dying at all" thesis. Yes, folks born in the late 50s and throughout the 60s got into it in an unprecedented way, and we may never again see pieces of the blue line WAY above the red line like those two age divisions.

    But in a sport that is destined for long-term decline, we'd see that the relative popularity continued to decline as we moved leftward (and thus younger). What we actually see is that the prime "young guns" (I exclude B1 because under 9 is awfully early to have any interest in this sport) are trending better than M3 and M2.
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • Skoot1123Skoot1123 Posts: 2,173 Mega Baller
    I have a source that told me there were actually more slalom ski's sold last year than there were wakeboards. *I have no way to check/verify this statement unless I were to call the various ski companies. I believe this might correlate to what @than_bogan is saying.

    @toddl - great way to spend time digging up data.
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 7,054 Mega Baller
    @ToddL Would also be interesting to explicitly subtract these and plot the "relative popularity." That may confuse some because it's negative for the groups where it's relatively less popular, but I think visually it would be a powerful indicator.
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 3,004 Mega Baller
    Also, in the B1 group, the spike in US Population may play out well in the future as more of those kids adopt the sport at later ages.
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • CraigCraig Posts: 115 Baller
    I suspect the peak in M1 is artificial. My guess is that it corresponds to collegiate skiing. A good portion of that population will not continue skiing after college.

    This is further supported by looking at the women. W1 ~140 skiers, W2 ~70 skiers. Lots of women who will not continue into W2.
  • crashmancrashman Posts: 722 Crazy Baller
    Have to be careful not to equate usaws membership with the popularity of the sport in general. There are tons of 15 through 28 off skiers in my neck of the woods who don't belong to usaws. Many of them used to when the club required it but they no longer do.
    slalom addiction triggering irrational behavior
  • skinutskinut Posts: 445 Solid Baller
    @Than_Bogan‌ - take a look at the midpoint with M3. After the midpoint of M3 participation numbers jump well above the population line. So if you take M3 as a whole it would be significantly above the population line in comparison to B2-B3. I think the only way to truly understand if B2-B3 are growing is to look at historical numbers and compare them. My guess is those numbers would show B2-B3 are very much in decline.

    Another interesting thing to note is the significant drop in M1 and M2 skiers. This would make sense considering B1-B3 are still at home and can ski with parents vs. once you hit M1&2 the financial and time requirements of this sport start to make participation much more difficult. Case in point it wasn't until I was in my late twenty's that I could afford a boat or could find time to ski.
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 7,054 Mega Baller
    @skinut 95% sure you are misinterpretting the graph. The lines connecting the points are simply drawn to connect. The only meaningful data are the points. All of M3 is represented by the one point that is just barely above the line.
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
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