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SALT LAKE CITY -- A group of snowboarders will argue Tuesday before a federal appeals court in Denver that a ban on their sport at a Utah ski resort amounts to discrimination.
The lawsuit, filed in early 2014, brought renewed attention to the long-festering culture clash between skiers and snowboarders on the slopes. Only two other U.S. resorts ban snowboarding: Deer Valley in Utah and Mad River Glen in Vermont.
Lawyers for Alta Ski Area have defended the ban, saying resort officials made a business decision to lure skiers to the private resort east of Salt Lake City with the promise of a snowboarder-free experience, and it's well within its rights to keep snowboards off the slopes.
The U.S. Forest Service, which approved a permit for Alta, has backed the ski area in the court battle.
The four snowboarders and their attorneys say Alta does not have the right to keep snowboarders off public land designated by Congress for skiing and other sports. They point to 119 other ski resorts that operate on public land and allow snowboarding.
They take issue with Alta's claim that skiers find the slopes safer because they don't have to worry about being hit by snowboarders, whose sideways stance leaves them with a blind spot. Alta's ban is irrational and based on stereotypes of snowboarders, the boarders' attorneys say.
The snowboarders appealed to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after a federal judge in Utah dismissed the case last year.
That judge said snowboarders don't have a constitutional right to practice their sport and that allowing the lawsuit would open a door for others to claim discrimination against private companies.