In the ongoing battle over the Alta snowboarding ban the US Forest Service has sided with the ski resort, essentially arguing that snowboarders’ mere presence on a ski hill presents a “legitimate safety concern” for skiers above and beyond the risk posed by other skiers. While there may be discriminatory or differential treatment, the Forest Service concludes that the Alta snowboarding ban is not “irrational” and further that these “concerns that can be avoided or minimized by not allowing snowboarders.”
But the argument that Alta is a safer resort for skiers because they don’t allow snowboarding simply does not hold up under scrutiny.
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.
Well, if there’s a “safety” concern, it is purely imaginary; the product of a decades-old stereotype and Alta’s marketing department (after all, perception is reality…). In fact, regardless of fault, skiers are disproportionately more likely to collide with other skiers, than they are to collide with snowboarders. Jasper Shealy’s research for the National Ski Area Association has found that skiers are three times more likely than snowboarders to be involved in collisions with others.
What do you think about the Alta snowboarding ban?
Should snowboards continue to be prohibited on the USFS land that Alta leases from the Federal Government? Does snowboarding pose inherent risks to skiers?