Utah ski resort sued over snowboarding ban

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 17, 2014 at 10:42 am •  Published: January 17, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah resort long known as a skiers' mountain has been sued for refusing to open its slopes to snowboarders — a legal action that again exposed a culture clash on the slopes.

In their lawsuit filed Wednesday, four snowboarders claimed discrimination on national forest lands that make up most of the Alta ski area in the mountains east of Salt Lake City.

The lawsuit says the plaintiffs bought tickets Sunday knowing they would be turned away at the chairlifts and could then sue the resort. One of them later sneaked onto the lift using "split boards" — a snowboard that splits apart and resembles skis — but was intercepted and escorted down the mountain.

Alta is one of the last remaining U.S. ski areas that bans snowboarding, and the lawsuit claims Alta dislikes snowboarders for their allegedly reckless skiing, inconsiderate attitude, baggy clothes and their overuse of such words as "gnarly" and "radical" when describing difficult terrain.

Deer Valley, another Utah resort, and Mad River Glen in Vermont also ban snowboarding. Taos in New Mexico relented in 2009 and allowed the practice.

Skiers' chief complaint is that snowboarders' sideways stance leaves them with a blind spot that can make their wide, sweeping turns a danger to others on the slopes.

Some say the culture war is old news now that young people are turning back to using a pair of skis instead of one board.

"Snowboarding as a sport peaked a couple of years ago. It was counter-culture, but it became too mainstream," said Riley Cutler, a partner at a Salt Lake City ski shop, Wasatch Touring. "Now kids are going back to skiing on twin tips and riding rails."

News of the lawsuit lit up the websites of Utah newspapers with passionate comments such as: Snowboarders "ruin all the snow" by scraping it down to ice; they "don't watch where they're going;" and they "stop in the middle of the hill and sit down! What's up with that?"