It looks like snowboarders have finally decided they can’t take it anymore. Citing protection under the 14th Amendment, four boarders and a Utah nonprofit corporation calling itself Wasatch Equality Utah claim Alta has no right to ban them. They’re suing the only skiers-only area in the country that operates on federal land.
There have always been murmurs that Alta might allow snowboarding but still the Little Cottonwood Canyon resort holds fast to the ban. Any Alta local will tell you this is not only a frivolous suit but an insane one. More than half of the mountain involves significant traversing (when you glide and push along a narrow, flat path to get from A to B).
“Just because they lease the land doesn’t mean that they can go out and discriminate and say who can come here and say who can’t come here,” said Jonathan Schofield, an attorney at Parr, Brown, Gee & Loveless in Salt Lake City, on Fox13.
The argument is more than a bit flawed considering snowboarding isn’t a protected class like race, gender or religion. Makes for a weak case. Alta only needs to show they have a ‘rational basis’ for the ban; something easy for the resort and the Forest Service to prove.
Let’s look at some reasons –
Alta’s layout sucks for boarding. The multi-mile traverses are impossible on a board; there are flats and uphills everywhere (imagine trying to get from Sugarloaf to Supreme without skis).
Alta’s Winter Site Operation Plan approved by the Forest Service gives Alta the right to “exclude any type of skiing device that they deem creates an unnecessary risk to other skiers and/or the user of the device, or any device they deem causes undue damages to the quality of the snow, or is not consistent with the business management decisions.”
Alta has its history to preserve. If any place holds the sole of skiing it’s Alta SKI Area.
The U.S. Forest Service grants Alta a special use permit and plaintiffs Drew Hicken, Skullcandy’s Rick Alden, pro snowboarder Bjorn Leines, and Richard Varg claim the resort‘s permit states that the public lands ‘shall remain open to the public for all lawful purpose.’ Apparently, it’s not open to them. The boarding trio allegedly had bought Alta tickets on Sunday but the lifties denied them access to the Collins lift. Alden was able to sneak past because of his splitboard. Two patrollers, however, confronted him when he got to the top and he was allowed to ride down-once- to get off the mountain safely.
The lawsuit showed up on Wednesday. Alta has not had a chance to review it so they have declined to comment right now.