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Alta Ski Area Defends Snowboarding Ban in Court

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The ongoing court battle between snowboarders and Alta Ski Area continued late last week in a federal appeals court. In January, 2014 four snowboarders backed by the snow advocacy group Wasatch Equality filed a lawsuit against both Alta and the U.S. Forest Service. The lawsuit claimed that Alta's prohibition of snowboarders excludes "a particular class of individuals" from use of public land, and that this prohibition was based on irrational discrimination against snowboarders. Ten months ago, U.S. District Judge Dee Benson dismissed the case, but the parties are back in federal appeals court in an attempt to reverse that decision.

In court documents, Alta Ski Area has argued that the decision to ban snowboarders comes down to business; in promising a snowboarder-free experience, Alta claims it's well within its rights to keep snowboards off the slopes.

The U.S. Forest Service, which approves a permit for Alta, has backed the ski area.

But four snowboarders say that Alta's snowboarding ban isn't based on safety or a business choice, but is instead an outdated stereotype that discriminates from allowing snowboarders on public forest land.

"Defendants have transformed public land into a private country club controlled by those exclusive, elitist, and discriminatory views," attorneys for the group Wasatch Equality wrote.

The snowboarders are asking the federal appeals court to reinstate the case. No date for oral arguments has been set.

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