Back in January, pro snowboarder Bjorn Leines, Skullcandy head honcho Rick Alden and a few local snowboarding legends came together to form Wasatch Equality: a non-profit organisation conceived in an attempt to put a definitive end to Alta’s longstanding ban on snowboarding.
There are only three resorts in the US who still close their doors to snowboarders: the privately owned Mad River Glen in Vermont, Deer Valley (which is sandwiched between Park City and The Canyons in Utah) and of course, Alta, Utah.
Alta have banned snowboarders from riding their slopes since the 80s, stating that snowboarding poses dangers to others due to the blind-spot caused by riding sideways, snowboarder recklessness, ruining moguls and many other long-outdated myths.
We are your neighbors, your family members, business owners, and ultimately just mountain enthusiasts like skiers
If Alta were an entirely private resort, they would be completely within their legal rights to restrict usage to skiers if they saw it fit. In reality, Alta sits on public land and accordingly, Wasatch Equality recently filed a lawsuit against the resort, stating that their ban is discriminatory and a violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protect Clause, which guarantees the same rights for all citizens.
In our eyes it’s all pretty clear-cut really: Alta should not be able to restrict who uses land that has been designated public.
The resort has responded by filing for a court Motion to Dismiss, on the grounds that there is nothing in the claim that constitutes a matter of law, and it remains to be seen what the final outcome of this ongoing, now legal, debate will be.
“Can’t we all just enjoy the mountain like civilized beings?” says Leines. “After all, times have changed, the counter culture of our snowboarding communitty has grown up. We are your neighbors, your family members, business owners, and ultimately just mountain enthusiasts like skiers. Let’s break down the barrier of segregation and treat one another with respect and equality.”
Many influential figures in the snowboard community have also rallied with Wasatch Equality, including one of the pioneers of the sport, Jake Burton: “Over 30 years later, it’s hard to believe snowboarders are still fighting for resort access. Talk to a random skier or snowboarder in a lift line, and they just don’t care anymore how someone gets down the hill”.
While on the surface this may appear a somewhat superficial skier vs. snowboarder conflict, the issues at the centre of the debate are far more important: Alta are discriminating against a whole group of people based on outdated stereotypes and classification based on whether you choose one plank of wood rather than two. We fully back Wasatch Equality’s vision to eradicate this segregation and we hope that one day everyone will be able to enjoy Alta.
Wasatch Equality have launched an online campaign to build awareness and momentum for the fight against Alta but they still need our help to make it a success: “The more people we can get to donate money on the Wasatch Equality group website, the further we can take this thing,” says the group’s leading attorney Jon Schofield. “It’s a community issue and we just want to get people behind it. If we can get a thousand snowboarders to donate some money, that’s huge and would go a long way.”
What do you think? Should Alta open it’s doors to snowboarders after 30 years? Let us know in the comments section below.