Editors Note: This article contains the views and opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of KSL.com.
SALT LAKE CITY — Alta and Deer Valley should be for both skiers and snowboarders. Snowboarding is a positive, family sport. 60 percent of snow sport families include both skiers and snowboarders. Snowboarders are your doctors, teachers, neighbors, brothers, sisters, and even your grandparents.
"No-snowboarding" policies perpetuate an "us versus them" mentality that has no place in the Utah snow sports community. It is time for Utah to move past discriminatory attitudes and actions on the snow. It is time for Alta and Deer Valley to step up and join all the other resorts in welcoming both snowboarders and skiers.
Promotion of Alta and Deer Valley's "no-snowboarding" policies by Ski Utah and Life Elevated disenfranchises Utah residents and tourists alike. Why does a place that welcomed the world with the Olympics not allow snowboarding at all of its resorts? Why can't our own Gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg not ride at Alta or Deer Valley? Could you imagine the ski associations of Colorado or California promoting a "no-snowboarding" policy? Why does ours?
Alta operates on USFS public land and a few private individuals should not be allowed to exclude snowboarding based solely on animus. The USFS is already on record in support of snowboarding. When a similar battle was being waged at Aspen regarding their "no-snowboarding" policy in the late 90s, Erik Martin, a White River National Forest representative said "[For SkiCo] to not allow snowboarding, you'd have to have a very strong rational, say a safety or operational issue. If it is not in those categories it is kind of hard to justify."
Shortly thereafter, Aspen opened their slopes and facilities to snowboarding without incident. Alta's USFS operating permit clearly states that "the lands and waters covered by this permit shall remain open to the public for all lawful purposes". Snowboarding is lawfully permitted on USFS land and Alta needs to open its doors to snowboarding.
Snowboarding isn't any more dangerous than skiing. The National Ski Areas Association, of which Alta is a member, reports "that alpine skiers are three times more likely to be involved in a collision with other people than snowboarders." Snowboarding does not present any unusual safety issues at any of the other ski areas that operate on USFS land, so what really makes Alta so different?
The facts are that snowboarding has been proven safe, does not harm the snow and that allowing snowboarding does not lead to sledding, tubing or snowmobiling at USFS permitted ski resorts. Did you know that a snowboard is classified as a type of alpine ski? Mono skis, telemark skis, teleboards and snow blades are also classified as alpine skis and all are allowed at Alta — why isn't a snowboard?
Snowboarding deserves better from the ski community. I believe snowboarding rejuvenated skiing at a time when skiing needed it most. Skiing has been around for thousands of years and modern skiing hundreds of years, but it took snowboarding less than 20 years to figure out that wider widths ride powder better and that different sidecuts and lengths can actually improve your riding and skiing.
Snowboarding is responsible for terrain parks and halfpipes — both of which are becoming increasingly popular with skiers and are now even Olympic sports for skiers. Snowboarding has undeniably contributed positively to the sport of skiing and skiers should welcome snowboarders on the slopes of Alta and Deer Valley.
Forrest Gladding is the Vice President for Wasatch Equality. Wasatch Equality hopes to ride, ski and share smiles with friends at all Utah Resorts in the future. Wasatch Equality encourages everyone to check out the website WasatchEquality.org.