Office Blog-Alta is for Racists Rebuttal

Derek Taylor answers the Levitation Project's controversial video

By Derek Taylor

They’re at it again. Just when we thought the hatchet was buried and we had grown beyond the skier vs. snowboarder marketing-generated bullshit, the Levitation Project, a snowboard/ski movie/baselayer/sticker company based out of Salt Lake City has posted a YouTube video to their facebook titled ALTA IS FOR RACISTS, with the header “FUCK ALTA.” The clip is filled with imagery comparing skiers at Alta to the Nazis and KKK. Check it out here:

This, of course, is nothing new. In the magazine Artboard, also produced by LP earlier this decade, there was a house ad featuring swastikas and comparing Alta’s business practices with Nazism.

Burton and Sims have a long history of promoting their products by bashing skiing, at times with ads in POWDER. For some in snowboarding, it seems it’s never been enough to say, “this sport is fun!” It’s always had to follow with, “and skiing is lame!” Ce’est la vie. It’s easier to get people behind a rally cry when you have a villain. Just ask Glen Beck

There is a difference between what Burton and Sims have historically done, though, and the Levitation Project’s new salvo. Burton and Sims were making calculated marketing moves: drum up support by creating a common enemy. The Levitation Project, on the other hand is a ski company. If this video is just a marketing ploy, it’s a stupid one. (According to later posts on their facebook, LP didn’t make the video. It’s posted to an account titled joppyslow on YouTube).

It’s more likely that the guys at LP are just frustrated at not being allowed to use their snowboards at a great mountain around which they spend a lot of time. And for that, I feel for them. But using the Nazi and KKK imagery is misguided at best. At worst it’s downright offensive—not to the people of Alta, but to the actual victims of the holocaust, slavery and racist lynchings, and to their descendents.

Let’s look at this analytically: We have one group of affluent, predominantly middle-aged white males crying about discrimination at the hands of another group of affluent, predominantly middle-aged white males. Why? Because the one group of affluent whites won’t let the other group of affluent whites use their favorite over-priced toys at their private business, preferring that they instead use a different, but similar version of over-priced toy. It’s really hard to be sympathetic to their “plight” when there is real, honest-to-God ethnic cleansing going on in Darfur.

To be clear, POWDER always has, and will continue to be a fan of the Levitation Project, despite this latest display of tastelessness. And I, personally, have always been a proponent of allowing snowboarding at Alta. I would love to see what Bode Merrill could do on the jump lines under Wildcat. But then I’m not in charge of the bottom line at Alta Lifts Company. Alta has created a very successful business by catering to a specific clientele (just as Burton, Sims, and many other snowboarding businesses have). There is not a single person who is not allowed to patronize their business. They simply don’t allow a certain type of equipment. I know of many “snowboarders” who have clicked into skis for a day to sample Alta and have had a blast. And yes, I realize that part of Alta’s business operates on public land. That doesn’t mean I should be able to set up an archery range in front of the Watson Shelter now, does it?

At a time when ski areas are going bankrupt, no one should begrudge Alta for running a successful business. I would rather ride the Collins Lift with the many good friends I have that prefer to snowboard than with a knucklehead from New York who declares, “You know what I love about this place? No Snowboarding!” But Alta is living by that most American of institutions known as the Free Market. True oppression would be to have an outside entity dictate who they can or cannot market that that business to.

Posted In: Office Blog

Add a comment

  • Dory

    Reminds me of the old debate between smokers and non-smokers. Being a life long non-smoker (my choice), I endured years of abuse from smokers who thought their right to smoke superseded my right to not breathe air polluted by their second hand smoke. Yeah baby, who won that debate?

    Get real folks, racism? You obviously don’t know the meaning of the word. The comparison to Nazi’s and the KKK is profane, an absolute slap in the face to the humanity that endured those times. Thanks to POWDER stating the obvious.

    I learned to ski, not snowboard (again my choice) in my 30′s and it’s been worth every minute. I’m now an expert skier and Alta faithful. Keep on keeping on Alta! I say to you naysayers; get a life, or learn to ski so you can come to Alta too, if I can do it, you can too! If not, there’s always Snowbird, et al.

  • Dave

    Alta is full of self righteous jerk offs. Who cares what ppl wanna slide down the mtn with? Why would you ban snowboarding anyways? They might not be nazis, but the way they react to the idea of snowboarders on “their” mtn is ridiculous. I wouldnt wanna give alta any of my hard earned $ anyways. I hope the wasatch fault hits, and alta falls into the abyss.

  • Jim

    Was it tasteless when Voltaire suggested that the Irish eat their own children to avoid starvation during the potato famine? Of course, but that is satire, through his overly irrational solution he was able to call a great deal of attention to the plight of the starving Irish and force people to address the issue with rational thought. Obviously the higher ups at Alta are not nazis or members of the KKK, but by making this comparison they have brought a lot of attention the fact that snowboarding is still banned at Alta and is something many people would like to see changed. The fact is that there are nearly as many snowboarders in the world today as there are skiers. So from a marketing perspective the decision to ban snowboarding makes no sense, since the ban effectively cuts their target market in half, 12 million to 6 million (2005 numbers). As far as the rest of Alta’s reasons go, they are simply a cop out. As a competitive freeride snowboarder and regular in the backcountry, I can tell you I have never been to place that skiers could access and snowboarders couldn’t. Unfortunately, there are only two things that Alta accomplishes with this ban. They keep old dusty skiers from having heart attacks due to witnessing progressive riding and promote a ski/board rivalry that is all but dead in the freeride community. My solution… If the skiers want Alta that bad give it to them, just keep it fair and give boarders the bird. Skiing no longer allowed at Snowbird, boards only. Lets see how that settles.

  • Matt S

    The people running Alta ARE a bunch of Nazi’s. That is the point. Calling them out, and then having a SKI mag offer their critic is pretty much a win for snowboarders. As a SKI mag, you have lost all creditability for offering a actual rebuttal as YOU are the enemy. You lost even more creditability talking about “overpriced toys” and “Darfur”. This is sliding on snow, not international politics and Greenpeace. All is fair in the war between “overpriced toys”.

  • nelg

    Back in the early 90s Time Magazine interviewed me at the ‘bird, they were trying to drum up a dramatic “vs” story. I told them what they didn’t expect/want to hear: that what was on our feet had no bearing, I loved to ride w/ my skier friends, there was no conflict, that was all made up by people who weren’t even up there to witness the brother/sisterhood of double and single plank riders enjoying pow together. I rode 2 planks @ Alta before I learned how to ride 1 plank, but who cares? I agree Holocaust victims don’t deserve to see this stuff, but BIGOTRY is alive and strong at alta. It being federally owned property is where I see it being unfair to US, tax paying snowboarders and skiers who want to ride together.
    Skis are getting so fat nowadays, it seems hypocritical for Alta to ban “boards”.

  • nelg

    You ARE allowed to snowboard at Alta… as long as you wear “skis” on the lift. Splitboarding is the answer. When one of the few narrow minded ski patrols hassle me, my two word rebuttal,” federal property” leaves any further argument null and void. Many of Alta’s staff do not reflect the bigoted views, and actually sneak on lifts with regular snowboards sometimes, or at least look forward to a time of unity and equality at Alta. The geriatric “rulers” of Alta won’t be around much longer, they assure us.

  • Sloppy

    You guys know that this vid is just a joke right??? Can’t believe you wrote a article about it…shame Powder magazine.

  • DT

    If you guys think that calling someone a Nazi and a racist is going to convince them let you snowboard at Alta, you’re worse than misguided. Instead of calling people names, why not start some real dialog with Alta’s “geriatric rulers?” LIke I said in the story, there are a lot of snowboarders I’d love to show around Alta, and they’d handle the traverses just fine. You’re your own worst enemies when you post inane and offensive stuff like this video.

  • DT

    Consider this: I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the Alta Lodge listening to the old timers who have been bringing their families to Alta for generations. Many of them are jewish, and some of them are old enough to have lost family in the holocaust. How do you think it reflects on snowboarding when you call THOSE guys Nazis? So, yeah, shame on Powder. Sorry we didn’t get your “joke.”

    • if you care

      makes no sense to sound – so sympathetic to the pain of the Holocaust survivors and then use your power at Powder to harsh the LP and draw more attention to the video- The true peaceful warrior would of left this alone and not helped it grow in numbers and viewers- Way to go DT you are just as guilty as anyone

  • Miles D

    Wow! Wow and Wow-

    The LP have promoted skiing and snowboarding since day one- Yeah they are edgy in their marketing but in the early years they took a lot of heat from the snowboard community to keep with skiing and they stuck with it over and over again- The snowboarders on their team lost sponsors over the fact that they rode for a “GAY SKI COMPANY”

    Alta promotes a full on discrimination program and profit from selling stickers that boast this- ALTA IS FOR SKIERS

    Every news paper in the world uses political satire to raise a eye or two-

    DT grow some balls and actually call people out instead of doing it half ass- I think the real reason you couldn’t follow through with your weak commentary is that the LP ski team and photographers are a large reason that there is solid content in Powder-
    Adam Clark and Will Wissman are two of the best photographers in the world and their ski team is one of the heaviest rosters around-

    So maybe you should realize that these guys actually promote skiing and snowboarding better than most brands and stick to what they say in this promotion-

    FYI a 16 year old kid made that video and is having a hay day that you keep helping promote it- Too bad your journalistic skills were not enough to dig deep enough and find the source to the video-
    Long Live LP

  • jay-sun

    yeah you really did a horrible job of writing about this assault on Alta. You should of never reposted this video in the first place- Next time try not to say that a company is such a horrible operation and then follow by saying you support them????????????

    “Many of them are jewish, and some of them are old enough to have lost family in the holocaust. ”

    DT —-if you really cared about these people you would of just let it go but instead you had to provide thousands of viewers to this video that really probably hurt those Holocaust survivors more pain than the LP did.

    Shame on you POWDER you are no better than the Levitation Project for partaking in this stunt!

  • so lame

    Powder is blowing it! biggest pile of slop written in skiing this month for sure

  • Chris

    i guess its clear that Levitation Project supports skiing and snowboarding -and that Powder only supports skiing and Alta only supports skiing….way to prove how narrow minded you are.

    It was in poor taste to write all of this DT if you really cared about the Holocaust skiers at Alta it only brought more attention to the video and obviously would really hit an emotional chord with anyone that was affected by the Holocaust.

  • so lame

    why are you deleting comments from this post ?

  • if you care

    DT if you really care about the Holocaust survivors why did you repost this vid to thousands of viewers?

  • one less

    You have one less Powder fan!

    Although their approach is way off in bringing attention to the resort’s idiotic policy- Alta is in the wrong and Powder obviously used their media and fans in a negative manner-

    Powder represents all the skiers and all the companies in the industry this is not your places to try and turn them on a small local Utah company that is only expressing that Skiing and Snowboarding belong together.

  • Ryan Walker

    Really Powder? Like you care about the holocaust survivors- you are just as wrong for reposting this!
    Way to abuse your power as an Editor!

  • Erica

    In an age where an iconic television show, Seinfeld, is allowed to create a sarcastic nickname “Soup Nazi,” to denote one who makes hard rules based on petty power, can’t we allow other ridiculous comparrisons to be accepted as sarcasm as well? Where’s the sense of humor? Gotta love the free publicity for Levitation Project! Sarcasm isn’t for dummies.

  • STH

    A useless debate, and the video was super-dumb.

    Here’s the thing no one wants to talk about: Most of the good terrain at Alta is only available via long traverses. It’d suck to try and access that on a snowboard, even a split board. Total knuckle-walking for hundreds of yards. It’s already enough of a jackrabbit XC race whenever the ropes get dropped. Besides, Alta’s no great shakes; It’s just another ski area, not some mecca of powder purity.

    Most Little Cottonwood residents moved beyond the ski/snowboard debate at least a decade ago. REAL shredders pick the tool depending on conditions. Alpine skis for hard snow days. Tele or AT for resort powder and backcountry. Snowboards for when it’s cruddy or super-deep.

    One thing many boarder-only types don’t get: Snowboarding is no longer some oppressed alternative sport. It long ago went mainstream, and now the pendulum is swinging back. This is why freeskiing and terrain park ski acrobatics are taking the fore in the Red-Bull-X-Games-lemming-sports arms race.

    But it’s all carving, and anyone who carves in the Wasatch and spends their time whining about where they CAN’T shred (with 7 areas and so much backcountry) is wasting valuable turning time being a wanker.

  • SMT

    who cares? F Alta. all you nimrod lame clothed skiiers can have it.

    here’s a clue though, the younger generation doesn’t ski much. good luck selling lift tickets to your geriatric client base.


    there’s plenty of better places.

  • JV

    Christ you guys are sandy. It was dumb video and Powder called it out for being dumb. BFD.

    Godwin’s law:

    And the only reason LP exists IS because they get support from media like Powder. And before you go bashing Powder too hard, check out their buyers guides from the late 80s. Chock full of snowboard reviews, before they were allowed anywhere. And is it just me or did they run a feature on Jeremy Jones this year?

  • Feje

    i was reading about this on other blogs a few days prior:

    i am kind of surprised that powder was not on this right awa…actually, they are always or becoming more behind on what’s going on-or so it appears to me.

    as a skier, i too, think alta is overrated; total jetblue joey ski joint. and it’s sad when you see so many overrated ski ”pros” (more like pro d.v. cruisers) doing jump hops fifty feet above a lensman who is making one of the semi-steep runs appear to be more like fifty degrees.

    the talent levels are far greater (both skiers and snowboarders) at the surrounding resorts. i think many of alta’s old-timers are intimidated-many thinking that snowboarders are all punks and thugs. they are not.

    and to the dude that moved to utah-maybe ten years ago, ”STH”-get over the long traverses (please! try some real hiking), give it a rest. i have passed more knuckle dragging idiots on skis.

  • KH

    Are all the haters part of LP or what? Cheers DT for speaking your mind.

  • kc

    Lets not forget that Alta Ski Area was a thriving, growing and profitable business for 40 years before snowboarding ever made it main stream.

  • mike b

    The craziest thing is that LP is just trying to support skiing and snowboarding together…..Plain and simple. No matter what images were used in the video it clearly explains how ignorant the Alta resorts policies are. The die hard Alta locals are actually the ones that have kept this divide going and are the quickest to bad mouth snowboarding.
    Seams like LP has a lot of content from athletes and photographers in Powder in every issue – Way to treat your contributors DT!

  • Beau

    …realy? archery? that comparison in the levitation article is ridiculous and so is comparing a private company that markets to one group (Burton and Sims) and a private company that does the same but excludes all others from buying or even using there product (Alta). Last I checked skiers are allowed to purchase and use Burton products. Dereck Taylor’s support of allowing snowboarding at Alta seems not quite genuine to me.
    Like · Reply · 9 minutes ago

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