Time to free the snow, Alta | VailDaily.com
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Time to free the snow, Alta

Kent Roberg

When I was younger I used to be interested in conspiracy theories. The Kennedy assassination, Martin Luther King’s murder, UFOs and Area 51, I found them all fascinating. The thought of being out of the loop – of having “the truth” hidden from me and the rest of the gullible public fueled my intellectual curiosity.

Currently in the United States four resorts do not allow snowboards – Deer Valley, Alta, Mad River Glen and Taos. On the homepage of the Alta site they have a disclaimer reading “Alta is a Skiers Mountain Snowboarding is not allowed.” My initial response is one of disgust, outrage and shock.

Is there a dress code like golf courses? If my equipment is out of style can I still ski this exclusive, mystical terrain? Is it a one-piece only type of place? Can I ski in my Carharts? Are they hiding something? Are the skiers afraid the “boarders will rip through the deep snow leaving nothing for the two footers to flounder in?

Most ski towns have their own bubble – locals often refer to Vail as “Disneyland” – but come on, no boards, really? Get with the times. Even Aspen, perhaps one of the most change resistant towns in the west, made the decision to allow boards and they can’t even decide whether or not they want a curvy or straight highway route into town.

Carving a market niche is one argument put forth when debating to exclude snowboards. Others fear the pristine bumps will be ruined. Still another concern is boarders scraping the mountain clean of snow. If snow is on that short supply how can they operate a ski area at all? Perhaps these arguments were generated when the skiers tried to snowboard their precious mountain.

Phrases like “Help preserve a legend” and “Alta is the best of what they were” echo of a pre-Civil War mentality concerned more with heritage and tradition rather than equality and justice.

From the Alta Website: “Some suggest that Alta is a mountain with a soul. Others who are involved in the industry lament Alta is the best of what they were.” It may be that the combination of a rich history and a dedication to the pureness of the skiing experience verify the claims.

I seem to recall another vocal group interested in maintaining purity.

At least the Deer Valley Web site has the dignity to simply not mention their prejudice and promote it. I don’t know which is worse, but in the long run it doesn’t really matter. Exclusion is exclusion

Thirty percent of the market now consists of snowboarders and the economy in places like Taos has suffered greatly from the restrictions. I don’t believe anyone should make decisions based exclusively on profitability, but rejecting consumerism to justify prejudice is flawed logic as well.

The decision makers will do what they will. I only hope when the torch gets passed it is to a brighter, more open-minded group. Someday on the snowy hills of Taos and Alta and Deer Valley snowboarders and skiers and the children of snowboarders and skiers will be able to sit down in chairlifts together in a spirit of snowriding brotherhood.

Now is the time to share the love and free the snow. Progression and change will lead us into a new era of altruism.


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