Snowboarders can ride Taos in 08 |

Snowboarders can ride Taos in 08

Scott CondonAspen CorrespondentVail, CO Colorado

TAOS, N.M. Taos Ski Valley has finally decided to let em ride.Seven years after the Aspen Skiing Co. decided it no longer made sense to shun snowboarders at Aspen Mountain, the New Mexico ski resort reached the same conclusion.The family-owned Taos ski area announced last weekend that it will open to snowboarding on March 19. That leaves the board ban in place at only three resorts in North America. Deer Valley and Alta, Utah, are sticking to the ban. Vermonts Mad River Glenn seems to revel in the prohibition.All four areas that held off saw this as a business decision, said Michael Berry, president of the National Ski Areas Association, a nationwide trade association based in Lakewood, Colo. The holdouts will keep the ban in place as long as they feel it helps rather than hurts business, he said.Taos Web site said it is waiting to lift its ban out of fairness.Lots of people had bought their passes and made their plans before we made the announcement, we felt like we needed to honor our contract with them, Taos said. This also gives us the opportunity to really celebrate the end of one era and the beginning of a new one.Deer Valleys Web site doesnt mention the snowboard ban. A spokeswoman said there is currently no consideration of a change in policy.Alta Ski Areas frequently asked questions page gets right to the point.Alta is a skiers mountain, its Web site says. Snowboarding is not allowed. Alta Ski Area is committed to preserving and protecting the skiing experience.Mad River Glenn embraces its stance with attitude. Snowboarding? Shareholders just say no, said a statement issued in June 2007.Mad River Glenns skier-owners it is Americas only cooperatively owned, not-for-profit ski area believe there are enough skiing purists to carve out a viable market niche, that press release said.Mad River Glenn claimed it has been experiencing steady growth in business since 1995.Taos appears to be looking for an economic boost from snowboarders. Taos has a long-standing tradition of being family oriented, and now with so many young people snowboarding, we are turning away more and more families, particularly families that traditionally come to Taos, said a statement from the heirs of Ernie Blake, who founded the ski area in 1955.An National Ski Areas Association survey showed that 28 percent of resort visitors last season were snowboarders. That percentage has hovered between 26 and 29 percent since 2000-01. However, nearly 60 percent of resort visitors between ages 15 and 17 were riders as well as 55 percent of those between ages 18 and 24.A grassroots organization called Free the Snow used to pressure the holdouts to end their bans. Now, its the Burton snowboard company thats applying the pressure. Burtons Web site uses a tongue-in-cheek, Star Wars-inspired call to action to protest the bans.Burton is offering $5,000 to the individual or team that makes the best video about poaching the slopes at the areas that still ban snowboarding. The program is called sabotage stupidity.Its time we take a stand and let these elitists know that its not acceptable to discriminate, Burtons Web site says. Power to the poachers.

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