Four snowboarders have filed a lawsuit against a ski resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon called Alta Ski Resort, which is located just outside of Salt Lake City. The lawsuit is in response to the resort’s recent decision to ban snowboarders on their mountain in the name of safety for their skiers. To the surprise of some, the U.S. Forest Service is backing Alta Ski Resort on their ban, stating that they have not violated any constitutional rights.
Essentially, Alta Ski Resort claims that the way snowboarders slide down the mountain poses a legitimate safety concern for skiers: because snowboarders have a sideways stance, this leaves them with a blind spot during their sweeping wide turns; this is where the danger for skiers comes into play.
The Forest Service has agreed with the decision to ban snowboarders from Alta, approving that this does indeed pose a legitimate risk to skiers. They believe that these safety risks can be mitigated or avoided completely by not allowing snowboarders to ski side-by-side with skiers. Despite the support from the Forest Service, it is obvious how this ban can be seen as discrimination. The snowboarders filing the lawsuit argue that the ban against them violates the 14th Amendment, which is the guarantee of equal and fair treatment. However, Alta is currently holding a 40-year permit that was issued to them by the Forest Service back in 2002, stating that Alta holds the right to restrict any kind of skiing device that it may deem creates unnecessary risks for other skiers on the mountain.
Unfortunately, this battle is only reigniting and maintaining the long-held rivalry and culture clash of snowboarders vs. skiers.