Alta Defends Snowboarding Ban in Court…Again

Alta says snowboarders harsh the safe, peaceful ski vibe

The age-old, festering culture clash between skiers and snowboarders moved from the slopes back into the courtroom on Friday when Utah’s Alta Ski Area defended itself against four snowboarders who are—still—suing the resort for the resort’s ban on snowboarding.

Skiers only beyond this point. PHOTO: John Shafer/Courtesy of Alta
Skiers only beyond this point. PHOTO: John Shafer/Courtesy of Alta

Attorneys for the group Wasatch Equality are asking a federal appeals court to reinstate the case, which was dismissed last fall when the judge ruled that snowboarders don’t have a constitutional right to practice their sport. But the riders are waving their American flags, saying the right to slide down snow on one stick instead of two has a lot to do with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The U.S. Forest Service, which approves a permit for Alta to operate on public land, has sided with the resort in the battle royale, but the four snowboarders say that’s discrimination and the public forest land has to play fair.

Their argument states Alta has turned public land into a private country club controlled by “exclusive, elitist, and discriminatory views.”

It's ski bunnies only at Alta. PHOTO: John Shafer/Courtesy of Alta
It’s ski bunnies only at Alta. PHOTO: John Shafer/Courtesy of Alta

Alta maintains the ban isn’t personal, it’s just business, and argues that skiers find the ski area more peaceful and safer because they don’t have to worry about being hit by snowboarders whose sideways stance leaves them with a blind spot that can make their wide, sweeping turns a danger to others.

The four riders said no, bro—the ban is based on outdated stereotypes and encourages divisive skier-versus-snowboarder attitudes.

The last time the two groups played Law & Order, the judge ruled that a business, even a skiing business on Forest Service property, can do what they want, even if others disagree.

Alta is one of three resorts in the country to ban snowboarding, including Deer Valley in Utah and Mad River Glen in Vermont. No date has been set for new arguments to be made.