How is skiing vs. snowboarding still a thing?


Oh, Gapers with lawyers. That’s how.

By Andrew J. Pridgen

Full disclosure: I snowboard and I ski.

I am equal parts obsessed with Shane and Jeremy.

…And most people I know who have lived or done any significant time in mountain towns can do both. Many can also mountain bike, skate ski, classic ski, tele ski, snort wasabi and still belt out Private Dancer at karaoke and brew up a pretty OK Pliny clone in their garage. They know how to make three ramen packs, one egg and a bag of found green onions sticking to the bottom of the crisper last for a week. There are certain life skills you pick up in the places where you rely on things falling from the sky to make you happy.

So the old snowboarder vs. skier argument is kind of a Gaper equivalent of do you listen hip hop or rock and roll? Do you eat sashimi or nigiri? Do you crush on George Michael or Andrew Ridgeley? Most of the time, it’s OK to say both.

It’s also OK to have sanctuaries for each.

Misguided snowboarders recently sued on the premise that Alta discriminates by banning them from their resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon, which makes about as much sense as suing State Route 210 from SLC for preventing you from getting first chair every time it’s closed the morning after a storm.

Tuesday, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals quelled this awfulness and sided with Alta and its legal team who maintained hosting a snowboard-free environment is a business decision that businesses like ski resorts should be allowed to make.

The crux of the suit for the plaintiffs was that the U.S. Forest Service, a government agency, grants the resort a lease—so there was discrimination going on on federal lands. Judges ruled that doesn’t mean the federal government actively encouraged or enforced the ban.

…Now if the resort builds skier- or snowboarder-only bathrooms, that’s a problem.

In the ruling, the judges wrote it would be (ready?) a “slippery slope” for the court to start dictating how to do business. Zing! People in robes 1, everyone in tall T’s sweatshirts learning how to butter goofy 0.

Said legal fees will be passed on to skiers—so the litigious snowboarders got a giant Monster sticker-sized notch on their helmets for that one.

Nice work bros.

Jon Schofield, the snowboarders’ lawyer, said Alta’s snowboarding ban is based on outdated stereotypes. “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,” he said in a statement.

I think the fact that Schofield (is there a such thing as a Snowcat Chaser?) is the one reinforcing old stereotypes.

It’s not about a segregationist community or skiers thinking snowboarding is bad, it’s more that while becoming a proficient snowboarder takes for-fucking-ever, the barriers to entry in the sport are few. Ergo, you get a lot of the lanyard-class at their company winter retreat trying snowboarding for the first time. I’ve never ever seen a skier wearing a Kobe jersey over a Tapout sweatshirt in camo pants. Snowboarders, probably about one in five. Haven’t been on the mountain since 1995? Guarantee you’re strapping on that Burton Twin, a backwards Cowboys hat and shredding while cuts from the The Marshall Mathers LP annoy the shit out of everyone who can hear it coming out of your iPod Shuffle earbuds as your Arnettes from Zumiez slip off the back of your neck while you’re cracking a sugar-free RedBull on the chairlift.

…I’ve never mistaken a skier in the lift line for Guy Fieri.

Not that there aren’t similar problems with Gaper skiers getting in the way or ruining someone’s day—it’s just that they’re all usually self-limiting to the part of the mountain you find yourself navigating only on the way to lunch. Snowboarders it’s one “practice run” and all of a sudden everyone starts talking in agitated Ninja Turtles speak and it’s on.

Skiers, through ability or lack of imagination, find themselves sliding down a slightly less steep learning curve.

Alta, nearby Deer Valley on the Wasatch Back in Park City, Mad River Glen in Vermont (RIP Taos) cater to that—that’s why they ban snowboarding. And it’s working out great for those who shred on one edge. You can have your double-daffies and your green jumpsuits and I’ll be down here wearing that Shaun White bandanna over my face rendering my Camelbak completely decorative, thank you.

But most resorts now allow both. Think of those as the Limp Bizkit of winter sport. And that’s fine. I’ve always preferred Alta and Deer Valley, and not just because I feel like I’m in a Nature Valley ad half the time. It’s just that if I’m going to focus on one thing, I want to focus on one thing.

Besides, who ever heard of a shot-snowboard?

…As a postscript: if there’s one indigenous population that I feel deserves representation—and the government’s protection—it’s the most indigenous and endangered of snow-loving species: The SnowlerBladers.


[vimeo 60705103 w=640 h=360]




Comments are closed.