Feds want Alta snowboarding lawsuit dismissed

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Steve the Snowman ride Collins Express Lift at Alta! Keep cold!!!

SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Forest Service has asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed over Alta ski resort’s snowboarding ban.

In court papers filed late Monday in U.S. District Court here, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Utah asked a judge to dismiss the case. The government says it has sovereign immunity and the group Wasatch Equality has “failed to state a claim on which relief can be granted” under the Fifth Amendment right to due process.

Read the U.S. Forest Service filing here.

In the filing, the federal government also said it has discretion about what activities can take place on public lands.

“For example, the United States may decide to allow fishing within a wildlife refuge, but it may choose to limit particular waters within that refuge only to fly fishing, which necessarily excludes other type of fishing,” assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Bennett wrote.

Wasatch Equality is suing Alta ski resort and the federal government over its snowboarding ban, claiming it violates their rights to equal protection under the U.S. Constitution. In a filing last week, Alta said snowboarders are not a protected class of people.

A hearing in the case is expected in the coming weeks.


  • Bitsko

    It would set an interesting legal precedent. Jeepers could sue to gain access to wilderness areas. BASE jumpers could demand access to the Washington Monument. For that matter, frat boys could insist on access to the White House for parties. (Not that Obama would complain….)

    Silly lawsuit.

    • jewlzzz

      I hear what you’re saying but isn’t that a little apples vs. oranges?
      Skiers are not the most law abiding group of people either, how many out of bounders cause avalanches? Get lost needing rescue? My brother was part of a rescue team when their helicopter crashed several years ago, he was sick at home but 2 of his best friends died that night.
      I completely agree with your thoughts on those that intentionally and knowingly risk their lives and the lives of others just for a high, but snowboarding is not the same…. just my 2 cents.

    • Paula Smith

      I don’t know absolutely (I wasn’t there when the rule was made), but I have been led to believe it was because skiers, early on, found that snowboarders seemed to either lack control or not desire to put forth the effort for the level of control that would prevent their running over skiers–so they were the “bad boys” of the mountain, not following ski etiquette. That paradigm of snowboarding may be in the past, but the rule still exists. I could be wrong, please be aware of that. But, this is the essence of the explanation I was given several years ago.

  • jewlzzz

    OH what freedumb we all enjoy, if what you’re saying is true about snowboarders lacking control then where is the study of skiers vs. snowboarders deaths and accidents?
    I was born and raised in Utah and I am Native American, I have also traveled a lot for work and Utahns rights and freedoms are DICTATED by one “cultural” group. Care to guess which one?

  • Sue

    There are plenty of reasons why it is not prudent for snowboarding to be allowed at Alta. And let me just state that again: snowboarding. Not snowboarders. They are not discriminating against a class of people, snowboarders are welcome to come to Alta, but they are not welcome to snowboard there. As for whether or not snowboarding is safer than skiing – that remains to be seen, since many a skier has been taken out by a snowboarder, only for the boarder. I have seen this on more than one occasion, twice just this season – although I rarely see a skier running into a snowboarder. As for the terrain at Alta – much of the higher terrain requires a high amount of precipitous cat tracking. Unfortunately as a boarder, this is hard, riding either one edge or the other. In days of heavy snow, if a boarder can not get up enough speed, many will remove their boards and walk. And unfortunately they will walk right down the middle of the cat track – increasing risk of accidents to all those that come behind them. In addition to that, there is absolutely no doubt that a snow board chews up the snow different than just skiing. Ever taken the icing off the cake with a frosting knife? Think of that when you see a boarder riding only his/her back edge down a run that is too difficult for them. Skiers do side slip down, but it is at an angle and does not leave a bare spot behind. If you don’t believe me, just plan on skiing one day and purchase the Alta/Snowbird pass. Then ski the two areas back to back. The federal govt. has a contract with the owners of Alta – whereby they can limit activities on the mountain at their discretion. I am sorry – but would you like someone to tell you what you can and can’t do in your home that you rent? It is the same concept. It is a ridiculous lawsuit that is a waste of time and money. As for me, I both ski and snowboard – although I ski more. My husband snowboards and skis – with snowboarding being his first love, and he agrees on every point, as well as respectfully skis when at Alta. And as for religion being involved in this – – I barely going to church – hanging on by a thread – and even I will tell you that is the dumbest of the dumb as far as arguments.

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