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There’s no "f-u-n’ in conformity

Mark Maynard

I think the argument of oppression of snowboarders is quite overblown. While less than a handful of the hundreds of North American ski resorts choose to exclude snowboarders, I will not turn this argument into the Augusta National debate of the snow-riding world.

That is because I welcome snowboarders to share our slopes with open arms and a warm heart.

That’s right, for all of the cat-track crawling rhetoric that appears in this column, I firmly believe that the backyard ski area and the corporate mega-resort are both better for the inclusion and immersion of those odd board-riding folk.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always like sharing mountains with those of board-riding ilk, it still disappoints me to see a great chute with all the good lines chunked out by the tracks of indecisive boarders who were unable to pick a line and stick with it.

I look at snowboarders as the “little brother” of skiing. Sometimes I like to pick on them, but I don’t take too kindly when others exclude, berate or otherwise make them feel unwelcome on the mountain.

I too felt territorial when resorts first started tearing up perfectly good – albeit flat and unchallenging – ski runs in order to plumb them with gigantic pipes, handrails, kickers, gap jumps and other hits. It is one thing to be forced to share a bedroom with your little brother, but I wasn’t going to stand for letting him redecorate my room. I used to applaud resorts like Aspen and Alta for sticking to their guns and remaining “ski” resorts.

Then a funny thing happened. Us skiers saw how much fun the boarders were having in the terrain parks and in the trees. We wanted in on the action. It was like the little brother had come home with the newest video game system and suddenly what he was doing was cool – which of course didn’t make him cool. We wanted in.

Without the inclusion of snowboarding as part of the overall skiing experience, we would not have most of the new wave of fun that has hit the resorts. Twin-tip skis, super sidecuts, half-pipe playgrounds and the shredder mentality have all in some way been influenced by skiing’s weird little brother.

Why spend all the time and money to pursue the greatest sport in the world and not try to get in on as much fun as you can? Instead of coming up with mottoes about “the way we were” and “keeping it 100 percent old-fashioned,” these resorts should focus on a mantra that is more timely and inclusive like “shut up and ride!”

A group of friends and I pick a different resort in North America where we rent a house, stay for three or four days and get in as many runs as we can. The trip started 11 years ago with four skiers and has since evolved into a group of about 25, which is split pretty evenly between skiers and boarders.

While I am sorry to see so many friends go this way, resorts like Alta and Taos – and the surrounding towns, businesses and tourist economies – will never see a single cent from groups like ours until they allow boards on their mountains.

Let the staid, rigid “ski only” resorts keep their exclusivity to themselves – why should we let them in on the fun? I mean, why have an obnoxious little brother if he’s not even there to pick on?


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