Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Can snowboarders sue Alta Ski Area, seriously?

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Three ski resorts remain in the US that ban boarding, Mad River Glen, Deer Valley and Alta. Taos New Mexico lifted their snowboard ban in 2009. Now Alta's boarding ban is up for litigation grabs.
Alta is being sued for unlawfully prohibiting snowboarders on US Forest Service land. The January 15 2014 lawsuit filed by Wasatch Equality, a non-profit group formed solely for this purpose, states Alta's snowboard prohibition violates the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.
Jonathan Schofield Wasatch Equity's Attorney, said “Alta is one of only three ski resorts in the US that does not allow snowboarding, and Alta is the only one that is operated on public land controlled by the Forest Service. Alta’s actions must comply with the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. Alta’s prohibition against snowboarders excludes a particular class of individuals from use and enjoyment of public land based on irrational discrimination against snowboarders, which denies them equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.”
Alta Ski Area has guarded their  Ski Area moniker and snowboarding  ban since the 1980s. Alta is interconnected to Snowbird, which allows both skiers and snowboarders, but signs at the resorts' shared border turn away unwelcome boarders - back to The 'Bird. 
"Are people still snowboarding? I hear that sport is dying," said Mad River Glen marketing director Eric Friedman.  "I don't think they have a leg to stand on with this Alta lawsuit, but I am not a lawyer. What's awesome about our situation at Mad River Glen is we are on private land, and our snowboarding ban is up to the co-op (since 1995). If our owners, the shareholders, wanted to allow snowboarding, they could tomorrow. The attitude was waning at one point, but after Burton did their poach challenge in 2008, that turned everyone off." Vermont's  Mad River Glen first allowed snowboarders in 1986, then banned boards beginning in 1991.
There are 486 snow sports areas in the US that allow snowboarding, 197 are on US Forest Service land. Does the Alta snowboard lawsuit have merit or is it mere frivolity clogging the US court system?  Is it irrational discrimination to prevent them from riding on US Forest slopes? Can snowboarders argue that they are a "protected class" within the meaning of the Constitution? Besides, isn't there enough terrain in Utah for snowboarders that they don't need to sue this last skiers' vertical vestige - a ski area that expressly doesn't welcome or want their presence or their purses? I'm going skiing... maybe Mad River Glen - there slogan "ski it if you can" has a wonderful double entendre.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Aspen X Games are over, exit to Sochi!

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The Winter XGames from Aspen are wrapped for another year. ESPN has continued the contract to the coveted Ski, Snowboard and Snowmobile Games til 2019! Sweet gig for Aspen's Buttermilk, the smallest of Aspen's four ski mountains including Ajax, Highlands and Snowmass. This season, skiing and snowboarding's best athletes brought big tricks to a boisterous Colorado crowd. For many athletes, this year's XGames were  stepping platform to the performance in the Sochi Olympics February 8 2014. The XGames are like the MTV Awards to winter sports, edgier than the Olympics or the Grammy's -which aired simultaneously with the XGames last night.  We you channel flipping from ESPN in Aspen to ABC's Grammy coverage from Hollywood?

Big winner at Winter X include Kelly Clark, the 30-year old snowboarder from Vermont won her fourth X Games Gold in Snowboard SuperPipe. Clark is going to Sochi to compete in Olympic Halfpipe with teammates Kaitlyn Farrington - who took XGames Silver at Aspen, and Vermont's Hannah Teter.

In Men's Snowboard SuperPipe, Danny Davis won Gold, with Louie Vito earning silver and Greg Bretz bronze. Gold medal winner 6x Shaun White did not ride in the XGames, saving his snowboard strength for Sochi. You will see White compete against his teammates Danny Davis and Greg Betz at Sochi's Rosa Khutor on Feb 11 in Olympic Superpipe. Shaun White will also perform in the first ever Olympic Snowboard Slopestyle on Feb 8.

In Men's Ski Slopestyle, Nick Goepper won his 2nd X Games Gold. He'll compete at Sochi  in the first ever Olympics ski slopestyle, along with teammates Gus Kenworthy, Joss Christensen and Bobby Brown. If you have been to the Dumont Cup at Sunday River, you have seen these guys compete alongside Simon Dumont. Unfortunately, Dumont injured his ACL, sidelining him from both the XGames and Olympics.

In Men's Ski Halfpipe, David Wise won his 3rd XGames Gold, he'll head to Olympic Ski Halfpipe's debut along with Torin Yater-Wallace - the 18 year old super skier from Aspen. In Women's Ski Halfpipe Maddie Bowman won Gold, she is competing in Sochi's first Women's Olympic Ski Halfpipe, along with Andover, Mass. teammate Annalisa Drew.

In Men's Snowboard Cross, Nate Holland won his 6th Gold, beating fellow Olympic bound SBX Alex Diebold and Trevor Jacob. In a surprising twist, Sugarloafer Seth Wescott was eliminated early at Aspen, and unfortunately did not secure a spot on the Olympic Snowboard Cross team to defend his two Gold medals. Nick Baumgartner will go to Sochi as the 4th man instead.

In Women's Snowboard Cross Lindsey Jacobellis won her 8th Winter X Games Gold. Jacobellis is going to Sochi, you may remember she hit a gate and was disqualified at Vancouver 2010 Olympics, and missed Gold at the 2006 Olympics when she led the pack but went for a victory grab on the final jump and fell, grabbing silver instead. Next up Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia...this should be very interesting! I think these USA athletes and the  US Alpine Ski Team should haul some serious medals at Rosa Khutor. Game on Team USA...

Friday, January 17, 2014

Where is the snow this ski season?

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This winter season started out powdery and plentiful in New England, but a post holiday thaw and several rain events have dramatically reduced trail counts in New England, Much of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont are at 50% open as we enter MLK weekend. Snowmaking resumes when it is cold enough.... but the real snow is out west at a few select northern ski resorts.

Big Sky Resort in Montana has base depths of  up to 67'' and growing - among the best snow conditions in the country right now along with Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole in Wyoming, Alta/Snowbird in Utah, and Steamboat in Colorado. With Big Sky's recent acquisition of neighboring Moonlight Basin and Spanish Peaks ski areas, Big Sky now delivers 5,750-acres of ski terrain - the biggest skiing in America - on one ticket. You should be considering at trip to Big Sky this winter!  Or Grand Targhee...  get out and ski! 

Photos of Big Sky Montana, January 2014 courtesy of Family Ski Trips and Luxury Ski Trips

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Biggest Skiing in America - BOOM!

I have loved skiing at Big Sky Montana since 2004 when I first visited this beautiful part of the world and skied this amazing ski terrain. The Lone Peak Tram takes you to 11,166' of wide open wild bowl skiing - Liberty Bowl, The Dictator Chutes, The Big Couloir, and The North Summit snowfields to Moonlight Basin.  Big Sky rivals all the big boys, Vail, Jackson Hole, Whistler, Alta/Snowbird! But Big Sky isn't all crazy steep high elevation terrain. The Montana ski resort also boasts beautiful groomed runs off the Swift Current and Ram Charger quads, and gentle wonderful slopes in the sun on Southern Comfort - with amazing views of the grand mountain mansions at Yellowstone Club. When the sun is out, Lone Peak resembles the Matterhorn, a tall impressive peak...

Then there's the Moonlight Basin - a 10 year old resort started by Montana ranchers, managed in and out of bankruptcy by Leeman Brothers, and now owned by Big Sky Resorts, thanks to investment by Sam Byrne the CFO of Yellowstone Club. Now Big Sky offers the biggest skiing in America, over 5,700 acres, 33 lifts, and 4,350' vertical.

If you haven't heard of Big Sky yet, you will, and if you haven't skied Big Sky yet...you should!