The U.S. Forest Service says it supports one of the last U.S. ski resorts to prohibit snowboarding in a court battle over a ban that snowboarders call discriminatory. The decision by the Alta ski area in Utah (USA) to promote a snowboarder-free experience to lure skiers and keep them safe is a rational rule that violates no constitutional rights, attorneys for the Forest Service said in court arguments filed this week.
Four snowboarders filed the lawsuit in federal court in January. They are claiming discrimination on national forest lands that make up most of the Alta ski area in the mountains east of Salt Lake City, Utah. The U.S. Forest Service was named as a defendant in a lawsuit, in which the snowboarders argue the ban violates the promise of equal treatment under the 14th Amendment.
The legal back-and-forth has reignited a long-festering culture clash on the slopes between skiers and snowboarders. The new Forest Service brief comes a week after the ski area’s lawyers said that the lawsuit degrades the U.S. Constitution and should be thrown out. Under a 40-year permit issued to Alta by the Forest Service in 2002, the ski area is allowed to restrict any type of skiing device that creates an unnecessary risk to other skiers. The Forest Service said it agrees with Alta that the way snowboarders slide down the slopes is a legitimate safety concern for skiers.
In a filing last week, Alta attorneys explained that skiers find the slopes at Alta more peaceful, safe and enjoyable because they don’t have to worry about being hit by snowboarders whose sideways stance leaves them with a blind spot that can make their wide, sweeping turns a danger to others on the slopes.
The two other resorts that ban snowboarding are Deer Valley, Utah, and Mad River Glen, Vermont.