Image: Cheap Snow Gear Ltd
Snowboarding once was the rebellious sport, outlawed at the major ski resorts and looked down on by the skiing community. After a massive rise in popularity, and eventual ski resort industry acceptance, you’re now just as likely to spot a grandparent on a snowboard as an angst ridden teenager.
After decades of change in the ski industry, only 3 ski resorts still hold on their anti-snowboarding policies. Mad River Glen, Deer Valley and Alta Ski areas are all infamous for their anti-snowboarding policies. These anti-snowboarding policies often lead to passionate confrontations and discussions from both sides of the issue.
For the remaining 3 no-snowboarding ski resorts, these policies are a critical part of their marketing appeal and infamy. When even a high court battle couldn’t free the slopes at Alta Ski Resort to snowboarders; many felt the policy was here to last. ‘Hell froze over’ most recently at Taos Ski Valley, NM in 2008, when snowboarding was finally allowed following a multi-decade battle to share the slopes.
So instead of trying to change stubborn minds, what if snowboarders had their own exclusive oasis like Alta?
With millions of snowboarders heading up the slopes each winter, the potential business model is undeniable. Similar to the marketing work done by the Big 3 to attract the anti-boarder crowd, a snowboard only resort could easily rely on its unique strengths.
There are countless possible snowboard-only resort perks;
No wonky moguls: Alta skiers are quick to argue that inexperienced snowboarders deteriorate slopes and ‘scrap’ off fresh snow when linking their turns. At a snowboard only resort, the tables would be flipped and skiers could see witness how there inexperienced cohorts equally create shitty mogul fields by skiing ‘the troughs not the tops’.
Benches at the top of each chairlift to strap in: Snowboarding has become known as a younger-persons sport, due to the wear and tear on your body it takes strapping in to your board for each run. With benches to sit down on at the top of each chair lift, boarders can prove they are not the culprits of crowded lift unloads just victims of poorly designed infrastructure.
No flat areas or long traverses: Another justification for the lack of snowboarding at Alta, is the long and arduous flat areas where snowboarders can lose their momentum. At a snowboard only resort, special attention to flat areas could create a more appealing, flowy mountain for snowboarders to get turns. Inversely hike-to terrain could feature solid boot packs, where snowboarders don’t have to wait on skiers tripping in their boots.
No gaper kids blocking/ruining the park features: Originally terrain parks were a snowboard only affair, later free-skiing pioneers presented a valid argument for skis being allowed in the parks. Now terrain parks are a mix of talented riders learning new tricks and the dangerous public who attempt to ride features well beyond their skill level. At a snowboard only resort, park features wouldn’t be destroyed by side jumpers.
Ultimately a snowboard-only resort is a contentious concept, it is fundamentally based on exclusion and bias. Ironically though announcing the idea of a snowboard-only ski resort, reminds us how absurd the policies held by the Big 3 resorts are. In a perfect world, it would be awesome to see top-level snowboarders ripping the extreme terrain at Alta. Since most of us skiers and riders have friends or family who do both sports, segregation affects our travel plans directly. A snowboarding only ski resort could undoubtedly succeed with a proper business model, and right financial backing. If you want to beat them, do you really join them after all?