Alta is for skiers, and a federal appeals court is now backing that policy. Alta Ski Area photo.
According to NPR, A federal appeals court has upheld Atla's longstanding ban on snowboarders on its lifts and terrain, saying that since the U.S. Forest Service, on whose land Alta operates with a special use permit, did not influence the decision to keep snowboarders off the slopes there, it does not amount to discrimination by the state.
A suit had been brought against Alta by a group of snowboarding lawyers and pro rider Bjorn Leines calling themselves Wasatch Equality, who argued that Alta discriminating against a specific group of people while operating on public land was unlawful.
In an investigation into the story by former editorial intern Olivia Starich, TGR found that the U.S. Forest Service's ski area permits require that operators "agree to insure that its programs and activities are open to the general public on an equal basis and without regard to any non-merit factor.” Olivia's investigation found that a lower court ruling determined that there was insufficient evidence to suggest that the Forest Service was in agreement with Alta's policy, that a property clause within the U.S. Constitution allows the Forest Service, as a business, to discriminate against a particular group, and that Alta's ban on snowboarders constitutes a "rational business decision."
The ski area often cites visitor surveys that cite the lack of snowboarders as one reason they frequent the mountain, especially among older visitors. The U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that lower court decision in their filings yesterday.
The Alta Snowboard Team will have to maintain its underground status after this week's court ruling. Alta Snowboard Team photo.
As it stands, the decision means that the only three remaining ski areas in the U.S. still refusing entry to snowboarders – Alta and Deer Valley in Utah and Mad River Glen in Vermont – can continue to operate their bans without running afoul of U.S. law.
"We gave it our all," said a post on Wasatch Equality's Facebook page this morning. "Thanks to everyone for the amazing support."
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