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.