Snowboarding is one of the fastest growing sports with over 6.6 million boarders cutting up slopes worldwide. Even so, four ski resorts in the United States stand strong against allowing these fat board riders access to their slopes. Deer Valley, Utah; Alta Utah; Taos, New Mexico and Mad River Glen, Vermont are the final holdouts.
Some would question the decision to ban boards since the potential income from these wild riders could bolster profits. One resort, Deer Valley indicated it was due to public response. The management provided surveys to the resort visitors and asked their opinions. The result was a resounding 99% concurrence to ban snowboarders.
Demographically speaking, snowboarders tend to be between the ages of 15 and 24. Friction began between skiers and snowboarders in the mid 1980's as these young people tended to be void of slope etiquette and often cut off or knocked over skiers. This impression of roguish riding initially had boarders banned from most resorts. Boarders brought with them the attitude of street skaters riding on benches, handrails, parked cars much as their cement riding counterparts did.
Alta in Utah has promoted their exclusivity to lure older skiers back to the intimacy of the downhill slopes. Older skiers were appalled by the apparent vandalism of these hoodlums as they watched them slide their boards on things other than snow. These older skiers are assured they will not be put at risk by reckless youths on single boards. They are also encouraged to be overnight guests with luxury dining experiences and state of the art ski lifts. Skiing was once again the sport for the elite, upper class athlete.
One of the problems originally experienced between skiers and boards were their techniques for getting down the hill. Skiers make numerous short turns down the slope while boarders make larger, wider turns. This often led to impacts between the two which sparked irritation and animosity. Snowboarders need a slope for movement and do not have the luxury of poles as does the skier. Skiing is faster and a more sensible way to get down the slope where snowboarding is more graceful and easier on the knees.
These four ski resorts are making a good faith effort to keep their loyal skiers happy but are missing out on the income brought in by the snowboard brethren.
Many resorts have embraced the snowboarders by providing separate areas for them to play. Board parks have rails, tabletops, gullies and pipes for which the boarder can perform his or her tricks and stunts. Of course the hardcore skiers won't be deprived of doing these same tricks, just on two skies instead of one.
If these four resorts care to cater to their long standing two-board clientele only, they may find that their competitors are making a better bottom line.