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January 04, 2007

Alta's "No Snowboarding" Revisited

Adam at Highly Obsessed had a recent post on Alta's no snowboarding policies. In a previous article he states the following:

There's an Associated Press article out on Alta, a ski area in Utah that still doesn't allow snowboarders on its slopes. There were a couple of lines in the article that caught my attention:

"At the risk of offending my snowboarding friends, I have to say this is another reason why I like skiing here -- I love snowboarders, but without them, the loose snow doesn't slough off the mountain as quickly."

On one hand, that sounds like total bullsh*t to me. [Isn't it lame that I edit what he says by simply replacing one vowel so as to obscure his profanity? =)] Do snowboarders really have a more negative impact on a slope's snow than skiers? I don't think so, but it made me realize skiers and snowboarders probably have different effects.

I am reminded of a posting at Wil from 120daysofpowder's other site, Baseballtopia, titled "48 Homers Hit, Time to Get This Off My Chest"

There is one thing that destroyed the game purists loved more than anything else over the last decade. How’s that for a starter, Jack? “In these decadent and depraved times what could he be after?” you ask yourself. “America is in a war with itself, gas costs $5/gallon, and Bush is learning to play a fiddle on the roof of the White House. What could possibly be wrong with the adopted bastard grandson of the hardy men from America’s Atlantic pastures?” you beg of me!


Write it down, I said it, take down all bets, no one will be turned away! There won’t be one starting pitcher this season to end with an ERA of under 2.90! Not a single cock-eyed one of them!

Baseball used to be a pure sport, not a sport filled with juiced up "power hitters" that use "the cream and the clear". There are purists who watch Field of Dreams over and over and long for the days when baseball was a thinking man's game, not a game of juiced players and inflated home run numbers and ERA's. Alta is a mountain for skiers that have the same nostalgic love for pure skiing that baseball purists have for 1-0 Pitcher's Duels, hit and runs, bunting a guy over, stealing bases, and scrapping for wins. Alta is a purist's mountain.

Baseball is a business, just like skiing is. And baseball probably would not survive and be as viable for today's MTV junkies that like the XFL, WWE, and UFC where steroids and quick soundbites are encouraged. An old school game would not make for SportsCenter's quick clips. Baseball abandoned their pure sport and started things like Interleague Play and All Star Games that end in ties. They sold their soul or so many say. But then there are people like me that didn't grow up with a Major League ball player as their grandfather (which Wil did) and didn't go to games as a 4 and 5 year old. I never knew the game purists love. I love the new brand of baseball because of a love affair after 9-11 with a team in the Desert of Arizona. That was baseball to me. Because of my own lack of historical perspective, I don't understand the longing for an era that long since passed.

I can liken this to the ski and snowboard industry and my comments at Highly Obsessed:

Alta is under $50 for a lift ticket when Deer Valley, Park City, etc., as well as most of Colorado run around $75. Again, Alta does have plenty of room on their mountain. They have almost 2,500 skiable acres and better than 2200 vertical feet on one lift alone, plus only get around 350,000 skier visits per year. Families that are "mixed" still go to Alta-Snowbird which boast almost 4,500 skiable acres combined because they are connected now and Snowbird offers snowboarding.

Go ski with a 60 year old dude that has a couple thousand skier days under his belt and lived in a VW in the 70's skiing places like Breck, Keystone, Winter Park, Abasin, etc., before anyone had ever heard of Jake Burton. Alta has plenty of them and many of them teach. And because Alta is skier only, people gravitate there. The 600"+ that they received last year doesn't hurt either.

I love Snowboarders. My brother rides. All but a couple of my friends do. This is not meant to offend them. Just like Wil is not trying to offend me because he loves a different kind of baseball than I have ever known. There is a special magic there about a pitcher's duel like in the 2001 NLDS when Curt Schilling and Matt Morris stared each other down twice and Curt sent Mark McGuire into his retirement looking plain silly, despite being juiced and having hit 70 HR's just a couple seasons before. It is even more magical when it reminds 30 year old men of the time their grandfather took them to a game at the old Busch Stadium or Wrigley or Fenway. I cannot even begin to understand because I wasn't there back in the day.

Alta is today's pitchers duel. It is something to behold and love for those that want to escape to a different era before terrain parks and Jake Burton. It is ours. And if you don't understand, that is fine. I can't explain a beautiful sunrise to someone that has never seen one. I can't explain baseball before it was a made for TV sport to taday's ADHD kids. I cannot explain or describe Alta and its appeal to someone that has never been a part of skiing in its pure form.

Posted by Justin at January 4, 2007 04:27 PM


Great post, very thoughful as always and a nice angle on a classic debate. Alta is special it would be cool to see someone build a snowboard only resort to balance them but I hope that Alta never changes even though my many years of 20-30 plus day season there are over.

Posted by: Jon Wader at January 8, 2007 11:37 PM