Photo (cc) by jfdervin
Alta Ski Area wants you to hit the slopes with them one last time this season (the mountain closes on April 24), but only if you’re a skier. Snowboarders aren’t welcome because, as the ski mountain’s trail map says, “Alta is a skiers’ mountain.”
Alta has had a longstanding ban on snowboarding, much to the chagrin of boarders who are eager to ride its slopes. But snowboarding is now legally banned at the private Utah ski resort, thanks to a recent appeals court ruling.
Much of Alta is located in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest — public land that it leases from the U.S. Forest Service. The federal agency also periodically reviews and reapproves Alta’s management plan.
Alta’s snowboarding ban spurred a multi-year legal challenge from a group of snowboarders who wanted the resort to open its slopes and “share the shred” with boarders.
Wasatch Equality, a nonprofit group that includes professional snowboarder Bjorn Leines, filed suit against Alta and the Forest Service in 2014 alleging that the ski resort’s snowboarding ban is discriminatory and violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, NPR reports.
According to the Wasatch Equality Facebook page, Alta’s “anti-snowboarding policies” prevent people from “exercising their legal right to enjoy public land, regardless of how they choose to get down the hill.”
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Alta by upholding a lower court ruling. The appeals court concluded that as a private business, Alta had a right to enforce its no-snowboarding policy. The court determined that “the U.S. Forest Service didn’t influence the [snowboarding ban] and therefore it wasn’t a blanket ‘state action’ that could have amounted to discrimination,” NPR said.
“At this point, we can only hope that Alta will one day voluntarily join the vast majority of ski resorts by lifting its snowboarding ban,” John Schofield, the snowboarders’ lawyer, said after the ruling.
According to the Associated Press, besides Alta, just two other ski resorts in the United States ban snowboarders – Deer Valley in Utah and Mad River Glen in Vermont.
Alta says skiers find the slopes more peaceful, safe and enjoyable without snowboarders, the AP reports.
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