Snowboarders fight ban at Utah resort in appeals court

Snowboarders fight ban at Utah resort in appeals court

Published Nov. 17, 2015 3:53 a.m. ET

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) A group of snowboarders who argue a ban on their sport at Utah's Alta Ski Area amounts to discrimination are set to present their case Tuesday to a federal appeals court in Denver.

The lawsuit, filed in early 2014, brought renewed attention to the long-festering culture clash on the slopes between skiers and snowboarders.

Alta lawyers have defended the ban, saying resort officials made a business decision to lure skiers to the private resort east of Salt Lake City with the promise of a snowboarder-free experience, and it's well within its rights to keep snowboards off the slopes.

The U.S. Forest Service, which approves a permit for Alta, has backed the ski area in the court battle.


The four snowboarders and their attorneys have countered that Alta doesn't have the right to keep snowboarders off public land designated by Congress for skiing and other sports. They point to 119 other ski resorts that operate on public land that allow snowboarding.

They take issue with Alta's claim that skiers find the slopes safer because they don't have to worry about being hit by snowboarders whose sideways stance leaves them with a blind spot. Alta's ban is irrational and based on stereotypes of snowboarders.

Two other U.S. resorts ban snowboarding: Deer Valley in Utah and Mad River Glen in Vermont.

The snowboarders appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals after the case was dismissed last year by a federal court judge in Utah.

That judge said snowboarders don't have a constitutional right to practice their sport and that allowing the lawsuit would open a door for others to claim discrimination against private companies.