In the early 1980's snowboards began appearing with increasing regularity on U.S. slopes. At first, resorts weren't sure how to deal with the new sport. Some required riders to pass a test proving they were capable of sharing the slopes safely with skiers. Others instituted outright bans on snowboards. Still others resorted to segregation by limiting snowboards to specific areas of the hill. As snowboarding became more mainstream, the tests, bans and segregation policies fell by the wayside, with a few exceptions. At the start of the 2007-2008 season, only four resorts continued to ban snowboarding outright - Mad River Glen in Vermont, Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico, Alta in Utah, and Deer Valley Resort, also in Utah.
In December of 2007, Burton Snowboards announced a contest designed to challenge the status quo. This video launched the campaign, which promised $5,000 to the creator of the best video documenting snowboarders "poaching" the slopes of each of the four resorts which continued to ban snowboarding. Reaction to the contest was mixed, with some in the industry applauding the in-your-face challenge to the bans, while others chastised Burton for what they saw as irresponsible behavior from a corporation. Nevertheless, within days of Burton announcing the contest, Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico declared they would lift the ban on snowboarding the following spring. Due to this, as of March 2008, only three resorts - Mad River Glen, Alta, and Deer Valley continue to ban snowboarding on their slopes.
What's all the Fuss About?
When snowboarders first began to hit the slopes, resort ski schools had few if any snowboard instructors, so riders were largely self-taught. Most riders were young, wore clothing baggy clothes that looked nothing like ski clothing at the time, and were often viewed as having a bad attitude. Resorts had a valid argument at the time, labeling the ban on snowboards as a policy based on safety. With the advent of organized snowboard instruction, the creation of the American Association of Snowboard Instructors, and the inclusion in 1998 of snowboarding as an Olympic Sport, these arguments no longer apply. The three resorts that continue to ban snowboarding make it difficult, if not impossible, for families made up of both skiers and snowboarders to enjoy time together on the slopes.