Group Files Lawsuit Against Alta to Allow Snowboarding

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Publish Date

01/15/2014

SAM Magazine--Salt Lake City, Utah, January 15, 2014--Wasatch Equality announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against Alta and The U.S. Forest Service in an attempt to open the ski area up to snowboarders. The non-profit group was formed solely for this purpose. The following is a portion of the group's release:

SALT LAKE CITY — Jan. 15, 2014 — Wasatch Equality, a Utah nonprofit corporation, and four individual snowboarders filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Utah against Alta Ski Area and the United States Forest Service, seeking to permanently enjoin Alta from enforcing its anti-snowboarder policy and snowboarding ban. The plaintiffs also seek a declaration from the Court that Alta’s snowboarding prohibition, as enforced by the Forest Service, violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and is therefore unlawful. A copy of the Complaint can be found on Wasatch Equality’s website http://wasatchequality.org/lawsuit.

The plaintiffs are represented by Jonathan Schofield, attorney with Parr Brown Gee & Loveless. According to Schofield: “Alta is one of only three ski resorts in the United States that does not allow snowboarding, and Alta is the only one of these resorts that is operated on public land controlled by the Forest Service. Because of Alta’s relationship with the government, Alta’s actions must comply with the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. Alta’s prohibition against snowboarders excludes a particular class of individuals from use and enjoyment of public land based on irrational discrimination against snowboarders, which denies them equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Alta operates under a Forest Service Permit, which specifically states that the public lands “shall remain open to the public for all lawful purposes,” yet Alta’s refuses to allow certain members of the public from using its land. The Complaint alleges that when Alta set forth its snowboarder ban in the mid-1980s, its policy was initiated as a result of animus held by Alta’s ownership, management, and customers towards snowboarders, and that Alta continues to enforce its ban based on this animus. The Complaint further alleges that the reasons offered by Alta in support of its policy are a pretext and that there is no legitimate reason for Alta and the Forest Service’s continued denial of access to one group of people (snowboarders) while granting access to a similar group of people (skiers). Thus, according to the Complaint, Alta’s anti-snowboarder policy and snowboarding ban cannot be enforced.

Comments

Snowboarders at Alta -- UGH

There is always the 10% who ruin it for the rest. I have skiied at Alta for over 25 years. I love the fact that I do not have to compete with snowboarders. They cut in front of you without looking. A friend of mine was badly injured by a hit and run snowboarder. Snowbird accepts snowboarders. Why dont they just go there? Their attitude is "I want what I want when I want it."

SNOWBOARDING AT ALTA

What a sad day if the snowboarders win. I have been skiing at Alta for over 25 years. I always thank the mountain gods for no snowboarders at Alta. At least while there, I do not have to worry about being run over by one. There is always the 10% who have to ruin it for everyone else.

ridiculous on both accounts

It really is a shame that Alta chooses to exclude snowboarders from riding their resort, however if I lived in Utah, and they decided to allow snowboarders now, I wouldn't spend my money at such an elitist minded area. Someone made the comment that its unfortunate that Alta will have to spend money on a law suit like this when they could be making improvements to the mountain or paying their employees more. What I find humorous is that if they had allowed snowboarders from the get off, they would be making more money and be able to afford those improvements and pay their employees more. Do I think anyone comes out of this a winner, no. Do I think its ridiculous for people to waste their time and money on a law suit that will change nothing, yes. But that's just an opinion of someone who's been working in the industry for twenty years at resorts from the east coast to the rockies and has seen how change can help a resort and staying stuck in an old way of doing things can kill.

Snowboarding

Good for the guys bring this action against a discriminatory business. Alta's bias against Snowboarders completely baseless. I was a competitive freestyle skier until I jumped on a Snowboard in '98 and have not skied since. Wether one chooses or needs to go down the mountain with 2 boards and 2 crutches (possibly due to their limited ability) or on a single board makes NO difference. Sorry hillbillies but you can't discriminate on Federal on land which you do not own. Personally I don't care wether Alta allows Snowboarding or not as I have been riding their lifts with my Split Snowboard for years and they have been too stupid to figure it out.

Invest the legal fees at a resort that supports boarding...

It's unfortunate that there are still areas that don't allow snowboarding. However, it is more unfortunate that Alta will now have to spend a significant amount of money and time defending their right to do business the way they see fit instead of investing in future resort development and paying their employees. Snowboarders are not a class of people we are just people. I'd love to see motivated snowboarders like this invest their time and money in building up a resort that needs some support. Why not partner with a resort to create a snowboard only park (not that it's necessary but might be fun). Or even simply invest this money in a resort that needs support to survive. Rather than invest money in a lawsuit like this I'd much rather see Alta left alone and allowed to spend their resources on making their piece of the industry better. My two cents probably aren't worth much but it would be nice if folks focused their attention on the real crisis in the industry the fact that numbers are dropping overall in skier/snowboarder visits... Anyone out there thinking that resorts are wealthy businesses that can afford endless lawsuits aren't seeing things clearly. When one resort suffers the whole industry can be impacted. Good luck to my snowboarding comrades I hope this works out well but I still think that filing a law suit only allows the lawyers to win in the end, there the only ones getting paid... If Alta decides to allow snowboarding I will buy a lift ticket and give it a try, looks like a fun place to enjoy some snow! Maybe Alta can see the value in additional ticket sales and get motivated to open the gates?

Ban the boards

Silly lawsuit. Snowboards are banned, not snowboarders. It's called Alta Ski Lifts for a reason.

Alta

As a skier and snowboarder, I find the lawsuit frivolous. Does the group filing the suit also believe that one should be able to use sleds, toboggans, snowshoes, snowmobiles, and so on, on the slopes of Alta? Given that Alta is operating under a permit from the forest service, they should be able to decide what is, and is not, permissible on their slopes, given that they are ultimately responsible for the land they operate on.

NON-snowboarder...

A couple of thoughts come to mind; Firstly, if snowboards, snowboarders and snowboarding are of equal importance and/or significance as skiers, why are there not snowboard exclusive resorts around the country? Secondly, I find it ironic that this group of snowboarders have found ONE law that they're choosing to abide by. Lastly, I am curious if Alta's policy specifically restricts snowboards, snowboarders or snowboarding, as the language makes a considerable difference, with regards to the plaintiffs argument.

Constitutional argument?

They may have a reasonable argument about fairness, but an argument under the equal protection clause, claiming status as a protected class, is just not going to fly

Snowboarding at Alta

OMG, the American lawyers are now after Onno, the last Montanan in Utah.. Good luck buddy.

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