On Tuesday, a federal judge in Utah tossed the lawsuit brought by snowboarders against one of the last ski resorts in the country to prohibit their sport, ruling that boarders don’t have a constitutional right to practice their sport at Alta Ski Area, a private ski resort eats of Salt Lake City.
The ruling sided with Alta, finding that the resort has a right to promote a snowboarder-free experience to lure skiers and doing so violates no constitutional rights.
U.S. District Judge Dee Benson’s 30-page ruling was celebrated by Alta and the two other resorts that ban snowboarding, Deer Valley, also in Utah, and Mad River Glen in Vermont. Benson wrote that “The Equal Protection Clause is not a general fairness law that allows everyone who feels discriminated against to bring an action in federal court.”
The group of snowboarders filed the lawsuit last January, claiming discrimination on national forest lands that make up most of the Alta ski area. They argued that the ban is discriminatory and based on outdated stereotypes, and encouraged “hostile and divisive skier-versus-snowboarder attitudes.”
Benson did not agree with Alta attorneys that the lawsuit degraded the U.S. Constitution, but he did find that allowing the lawsuit would open a wide door for many other groups to claim discrimination against private companies.
The four snowboarders may appeal the ruling to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals but must first evaluate their options. The U.S. Forest Service, which approves a permit for Alta, has backed the ski area in the court battle.
During court filings this year, Alta attorneys said skiers find the slopes more peaceful, safe and enjoyable because they don’t have to worry about being hit by snowboarders whose sideways stance leaves them with a blind spot that can make their wide, sweeping turns a danger to others on the slopes. Skiers, in contrast, don’t have any blind spots because the face forward as they speed down the slopes.