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 Post subject: Re: Snowboarders sue to ride with skiers at Alta resort
PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 5:03 pm 
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I posted the story to the homepage...how about that headline..."Free Alta or Fuck Alta, courts to decide" :D

http://www.splitboard.com/index.php/fea ... -to-decide

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 Post subject: Re: Snowboarders sue to ride with skiers at Alta resort
PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 10:56 pm 
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Location: Cottonwood, UT
CascadEagan wrote:
Has anyone ever gotten on the alta lifts in split/tour mode and then assembled and ridden down in board mode?

I would really enjoy seeing some snowboarding at alta this winter, especially with all the attention these blue blood, old school, elitists are getting.

Maybe a coordinated split board attack on alta?

I've talked to some guides who have ridden up on the lifts in tour mode. Then let them as long as they are only accessing the backcountry.

Jake Burton sent a challenge out to people to film snowboarders poaching skier-only resorts. One of my good friends put together a video. They dropped in by ducking a rope at Snowbird while wearing never-nude cutoffs and gave suckers to all the skiers. It was pretty funny.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ImOOS29CGM[/youtube]


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 Post subject: Re: Snowboarders sue to ride with skiers at Alta resort
PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:41 am 
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Well it's a really weak legal argument. I'd be absolutely shocked if it survived a motion for summary judgement. Still, if the court permits discovery things could get interesting as that could be costly for the defendants and there might be pressure to settle.

And honestly I can't get too worked up about Alta not allowing snowboards. I don't live in Utah but from afar it certainly seems like snowboarders there have lots of excellent in and out of bounds terrain to choose from. I could definitely be missing something about why it's so important though.

Still, the folks running/skiing Alta seem like huge pieces of shit. And this might make life a little uncomfortable for them, so I'm all in favor.


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 Post subject: Re: Snowboarders sue to ride with skiers at Alta resort
PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 7:34 pm 
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TL;DR.

My feelings: couldn't give a shit.
I'll put it this way (and I'm pretty sure I'm preaching to the choir here): When I'm skinning up the south facing ridge looking back at the tracked pow, lifts, and skiers in Alta, the last thing I'm thinking is "Damn I wish I was over there." Anyone who disagrees has lost sight of the bigger picture. Yeah I know, there are snowboarders out there who don't, or will ever, splitboard, but I feel there is ample opportunity at all the other ski areas.

Yeah yeah I know, discrimination, elitism, sidecountry access, public land, complete linkage with 'Bird, blah blah blah.
As a Wasatch outsider, if I'm traveling to Utah, it ain't to ride lifts. There's so much terrain, between BCC and LCC and beyond, I can't give a rat's ass about their 2200 acres and 11 lifts. I've been at this snowboarding thing so long now, I don't even get excited over resorts anymore (with the exception of Jackson).

I just love hearing Alta skiers get all knotted up over the possibility that snowboarders might be invading their little paradise. That viddy posted earlier is priceless.

Fuck resorts. I just wanna go splitting.

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 Post subject: Re: Snowboarders sue to ride with skiers at Alta resort
PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 9:27 pm 
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Quote:
Well it's a really weak legal argument. I'd be absolutely shocked if it survived a motion for summary judgement. Still, if the court permits discovery things could get interesting as that could be costly for the defendants and there might be pressure to settle.


What is Alta's standing and legal precedence??? I get the plantiff's (snowboarders) stance discrimination on public lands. But I do not see a defense for Alta?

Quote:
The lawsuit says the plaintiffs bought tickets Sunday knowing they would be turned away at the chairlifts and could then sue the resort. One of them later sneaked onto the lift using "split boards" — a snowboard that splits apart and resembles skiis — but was intercepted and escorted down the mountain.


What I am wondering is how can Ski-Patrol (an employee(s) of a private corporation), dictate to what I can and cannot do on public land (such as splitboarding)? What is the precedent here? :scratch: Any lawyers out there that can explain the subtleties of public land-lease to a ski corporation and their enforcement of policy and my rights to access public land as I choose?

Note: I am not condescending Ski-Patrol or a ski corp. Just want to really know the facts here.

Quote:
51. Alta’s Plan states that uphill and downhill travel must be accepted and approved
by Alta and that Alta “reserves the right to exclude any type of skiing device that they deem
creates an unnecessary risk to other skiers and/or the user of the device, or any device they deem
causes undue damages to the quality of the snow, or is not consistent with the business
management decisions.”

52. Ostensibly under this provision, Alta enforces its anti-snowboarder policy and
snowboarding ban. By approving Alta’s Plan, the USFS has allowed Alta to ban snowboarders from using public land.
53. However, Alta’s Permit specifically provides that “the lands and waters covered
by this permit shall remain open to the public for all lawful purposes.”

52. Ostensibly under this provision, Alta enforces its anti-snowboarder policy and
snowboarding ban. By approving Alta’s Plan, the USFS has allowed Alta to ban snowboarders
from using public land.
53. However, Alta’s Permit specifically provides that “the lands and waters covered
by this permit shall remain open to the public for all lawful purposes.”



96. That same day, Plaintiff Alden also embarked on one of Alta’s chairlifts while
using a “split-board.”3
As he was riding the chairlift, a mid-mountain lift operator noticed that
Mr. Alden was using a split-board. When Mr. Alden unloaded at the top of the chairlift, two
Alta Ski Patrol personnel were waiting for him. The Ski Patrol told Mr. Alden that
snowboarding was not allowed at Alta and that he would have to descend the mountain in ski
mode. Given that split-boards are not designed to descend in ski mode, due to a free-pivot toe
binding, Mr. Alden expressed his concern about the safety of doing so and told them that he did
not understand why there was a problem given that he had rode the chairlift with skis. The Alta
Ski Patrol told him that it did not matter if his board separated into skis, it was a “snowboard”
and violated Alta’s policy. Notwithstanding this conversation, Alta’s Ski Patrol then told Mr.
Alden that he could descend with his split-board in snowboard mode once but would be
prohibited from using his split-board again on Alta’s chairlifts in the future. Mr. Alden then
descended without incident.

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 Post subject: Re: Snowboarders sue to ride with skiers at Alta resort
PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:46 pm 
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Alta is held liable for anything done on the land while they are leasing it.

I'm pretty sure if snowboarders were allowed to go to Alta no one would give a single shit about the place and would warn others about how shitty the traverses and flats are.

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 Post subject: Re: Snowboarders sue to ride with skiers at Alta resort
PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 11:47 pm 
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I'm a lawyer and I'll try and do this without getting too far into the weeds. Simply put, there is nothing in the constitution that guarantees snowboarders access to all of the public land that skiers are allowed to access.

All the Forest Service/Alta must do to justify the exclusion of snowboarders is to show that this exclusion is "rationally related" to a "legitimate state interest." This is the weakest type of review courts engage in (more stringent review is available for discrimination against what are known as suspect classes based on race, gender, age, sexual preference) and as I'll explain below it is nearly impossible to fail the rational basis test.

It's nearly impossible to fail because the legal definitions don't match the common sense definitions of those phrases. So "rationally related" doesn't mean that there is a strong connection in the real world, or that this is the best way to serve the "legitimate state interest." Furthermore, "legitimate state interest" doesn't have to be the best or even a particularly good goal for the state, it just has to be permissible according to the constitution.

I'll avoid engaging directly with the facts of this case just because I wouldn't want to make Alta or the Forest Service's job any easier.

So, say for example that there was a trail system on public land that was operated by a private entity. They allow 26" mountain bikes but prohibit 29ers. They do this because they argue that the longer chainstays and different geometries of 29er bikes make them turn a little differently, travel at slightly different speeds, stop at slightly different distances, and generally behave a little bit differently on the trails. These differences, they argue, would make it less fun for bicyclists as riders of different sized wheels attempt to pass each and navigate the various obstacles on the trail. This absolutely stupid argument would almost certainly pass the rational basis test because the exclusion of slightly different 29er bikes is "rationally related" to a "legitimate state interest" of increasing the enjoyment on public land. Also, the judge probably thinks that 29ers suck anyway.

The only way to defeat this kind of showing is to prove that this rational basis is actually just a pretext for discrimination against a class of people. And I think the plaintiffs do a pretty good job of showing a history of remarks by many of those involved that shows a bias against snowboarders. The problem with this whole line of reasoning is that the snowboarders aren't the type of class that has ever been recognized by the courts. I mean, shit, a lot of us, particularly on this forum can ski too. So, if we really wanted to go to Alta we could just ski. That would blow yes, but it's not like we were born with both feet strapped into a snowboard (that person actually might have an equal protection claim. also they probably grew up without a mom. ouch).

Anyway, if you're thinking but that's stupid and doesn't make any sense and why would our constitution be written and interpreted that way I'm happy to have a more in depth discussion in another thread. Or you could go to law school. Actually, don't do that, it's incredibly expensive and the worst part is that when you get out you are a lawyer and have to deal with stupid shit like this all of the time.


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 Post subject: Re: Snowboarders sue to ride with skiers at Alta resort
PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 11:59 pm 
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Oh, sorry the takeaway from all of that is that a well written change in federal law directing the forest service to manage lands in such a manner that skiers are not privileged in any way over snowboarders would fix the problem. The forest service would almost certainly comply immediately and if they didn't it would be possible to take them to court in order to compel action.

Anybody want to start a grassroots organizing campaign to influence the Utah congressional delegation? Since Alta has the only ox that would be gored I imagine that if the Utah reps were on board there wouldn't be any objection from the rest of Congress. Who's in?


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 Post subject: Re: Snowboarders sue to ride with skiers at Alta resort
PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 6:33 am 
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Location: Green Mountains
Thanks for that explanation, Silver. I'm sure you're probably a pretty busy dude. Sounds to me like we need a judge who also happens to snowboard. To me, Alta is jut the tip of the iceburg. I mean, snowboarders have had to jump through hoops since day one. Had people not fought hard to ride lifts with snowboards, the sport would have died and we wouldn't be here. So I disagree with people who say let them do what they want because its the principle of the thing that matters. There are also more and more riders now who are on patrols and work as guides. Those individuals had to work extra hard to convince skiers. I just looked at a job posting in the Whites for a ranger position and they basically said if you snowboard, forget about it. I know there are still skiers who feel we are subpar because we use one board instead of two and I say fuck them, lets take their mountain, even if it sucks. Besides, lets not forget our roots of spraying skiers, being obnoxious, and playing punk as loud as we can- oi oi!


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 Post subject: Re: Snowboarders sue to ride with skiers at Alta resort
PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:38 am 
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I started my son snowboarding at age 4 and now 14 years later he loves it more than ever.

I never gave him the option to ski because skiing is lame. He thanks me daily. :mrgreen:


In all seriousness, I've tried to teach my kids that all methods of playing in the snow are good. Do what you do, let others do what they do. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Snowboarders sue to ride with skiers at Alta resort
PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 9:12 am 
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I'M TOTALLY A LAWYER TOO YOU GUYS! *Pats self on back, pops shoulder out, craps pants

I never intend to ride Alta. In fact, I've proudly displayed a "Fuck Alta" sticker on my pickup for close to a decade. (Admittedly recently removed when my kid learned to read) As stated above, the traverses suck and, because there's a town right there, the powder gets blown out within hours anyway. Often before they even open LCC road to the rest of us Utards.

I'm hoping this lawsuit will prevail only to rub it in the faces of those elitist snow-plowing douchebags who actually think snowboarding(ers) is any different.

Quote:
I'll avoid engaging directly with the facts of this case just because I wouldn't want to make Alta or the Forest Service's job any easier.


While I agree it's a tough sell as a suspect class and proving a "rational relation," this is a factually sensitive analysis. To broadly just state they don't have a chance then not provide any factual basis jumps the gun a little bit.

Reading the Complaint, they actually lay down a solid factual basis for the suspect class. And, as you said, there are enough quotes from Alta management and ownership to show arbitrariness. Enough for argument anyway.

A little more info: the firm they hired is fairly prominent in SLC. While I'm sure they're happy taking money from the non-profit, they certainly don't want to lose this high-profile case at the motion stage.

Either way, I'm grabbing the popcorn and watching the two-plankers squirm.


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 Post subject: Re: Snowboarders sue to ride with skiers at Alta resort
PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 9:32 am 
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I mostly agree with Silver's analysis but I think this is possibly a case of losing the battle but winning the war.

Even if the lawsuit fails, it does demonstrate that a portion of the public is unhappy with Alta's policies. I haven't looked at the Alta USFS Special Use Permit but I expect it says something about Alta providing public access to public lands. The next time that Alta needs to renew their USFS Special Use permit this case could show that a portion of the public is unhappy w/ the quality of that access and the USFS could pressure or require Alta to increase the access they provide. UTAH's points about possible Alta expansion could be brought up as leverage at this time as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Snowboarders sue to ride with skiers at Alta resort
PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 3:12 pm 
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I completely agree with you dave, the lawsuit is probably part of an overall strategy and even though I might not believe in the merits of the legal argument, I think the lawsuit is great. There are lots of ways to win a legal dispute and getting a ruling from a judge is the least common.

And, Meethead, my post would fail entirely as a legal motion. That wasn't the intent, I just didn't want to go through my analysis of why I think Alta/FS can pass the rational basis test on a public forum so I provided an example of a much weaker argument that I think would still pass muster. Anyway, good to know that the firm is a prominent one in SLC. I'm not shocked as I thought the complaint was well done. And that may help them get a bit further particularly if they draw a sympathetic judge.

Oh, and 802smuggler, I'm totally not busy at all right now because I just left a big city lawyer situation to pursue an opportunity that, should it work out, will align much more closely with my values. That and I'll be able to live in the mountains/foothills! So wish me luck.

You have a good point that snowboarders have and should continue to fight for equal access. Like everyone else, I think the lawsuit is a good thing. Who knows they might pull a judge who snowboards and lets it drag on for a bit. That and the media attention it should generate are both very positive.


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