By Sheila Chapman BIG SKY RESORT

Big Sky Resort closed the winter season with 473,000 skier visits, another record-breaking year. These numbers are up 7.5 percent over last season, even with the combined numbers from Big Sky and Moonlight Basin.

The resort’s lodging also had a remarkable season, up 25 percent over 2012-13 after merging with Moonlight Basin properties.

“The entire Big Sky community experienced record breaking visitation and commerce this winter,” said Taylor Middleton, General Manager of Big Sky Resort. “As a matter of fact, this was our third consecutive high mark.”

The brand and marketing horsepower of The Biggest Skiing in America has put Big Sky on every skiers bucket list, Middleton added.

During the holiday season, skier visits were up 15 percent compared to the previous year. There were five days above the 7,000-skier mark, and Dec. 29, 2013 saw more than 7,500 skiers on the mountain – the busiest ski day in the resort’s history.

This winter ranked among the top for snowfall, as well. “It was an epic snow year,” Middleton said, “one of the best ever.”

All this capped off the October 2013 merger between Big Sky Resort and Moonlight Basin, a deal that linked 5,750 acres of skiable terrain under a single lift ticket, truly making it the “Biggest Skiing in America.”

To integrate Big Sky and Moonlight operations, the resort employed more than 1,400 people.

“It was very smooth, and they made something that was very complicated look easy,” Middleton said.