MORE than 140,000 skiers and snowboarders have taken to Scotland's outdoor slopes so far this winter, making it one of the best seasons in the past decade.

Ski-Scotland said that after a dip in numbers last year, the country's five mountain snowsport centres are on course to meet the 2010-11 season's numbers, which finished with around 289,000 visitors.

But this year's figure is still falling short of the 2009-10 total, when almost 375,000 skiers and snowboarders went on the mountains.

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Ski-Scotland said that, up to and including Sunday, 142,160 "skier days" were recorded at the five mountain snowsport areas – Nevis Range, Glenshee, The Lecht, Cairngorm and Glencoe. A skier day amounts to one individual who skis or snowboards for a day, and does not include season ticket holders or group bookings. Some are regular visitors, and are counted separately each day.

It means that more than £14.2 million has been generated by snowsports this winter, with £11.4m spent "off the hill" on accommodation, eating out and at petrol stations, Ski-Scotland said.

Heather Negus, the chairwoman of Ski Scotland, said that with two months of the season to go, the outlook is positive.

She added: "We know last season wasn't a good one, but to have beaten that total before the end of the English half-term is amazing."