(Host) Snowboarders were once the strange and unwanted few encroaching upon the pristine slopes of skiers. But times have changed.
You can now find riders and skiers whooshing down the mountain, side by side. But apparently the battle for parity on the slopes isn’t quite over.
VPR’s Jane Lindholm has more.
(Lindholm) Two weeks ago Burton Snowboards unleashed a manifesto:
(web audio) "Until snowboarders everywhere are free to ride where they want to ride, until the snow and the slopes of this great nation have been purged of the scourge of segregation, until the four elitist, fascist resorts lift their draconian bans there shall be no rest, no justice, and no peace. In the face of this blatant and aggressive disregard for the declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America, poaching isn’t simply a peaceful form of protest; it’s truly your patriotic duty."
(Lindholm) "Poaching" is infiltrating a ski-only resort. There are four in the nation, including the Vermont ski area Mad River Glen.
Burton is offering a $5,000 purse to the best video from each mountain that shows proof of poaching. It’s a publicity stunt, sure, but Nate Bosshard, brand manager at Burton Snowboards, says there’s a more serious issue at stake.
(Bosshard) "At a certain level it is discrimination. I mean, how could you not look at it that way? It’s the way people go down a hill. Are they going forwards or are they going sideways?"
(Lindholm) But, Bosshard says despite the strong language on the Burton website, the company is keeping their message light.
(Bosshard) "You know, it’s not one of those things where we’re trying to compare this to the Civil Rights Campaign. There’s no intention of that at all, it’s strictly tongue in cheek."
(Lindholm) Mad River Glen, in Waitsfield, is well aware of the Burton contest. Jamey Wimble is the president and General Manager of the ski area. He says Mad River skiers have mixed feelings.
(Wimble) "Some of them are really kind of paying no attention to it at all. And some of them are definitely upset. They think that something that they didn’t want might be happening in their backyard."
(Lindholm) Mad River Glen wasn’t always a ski-only mountain. In the 1980s it was one of the first areas that did allow snowboarding. But they found that safety issues with their chairlifts made it dangerous for riders. So they reduced where snowbarders could go.
(Wimble) "Then actually back in the early 90’s there was actually a confrontation between the owner at that time and some local riders here in the grocery store. And it upset her so much that she said, okay, we’re just going to ban snowboarding completely. And then the cooperative took over in 1995 and all existing policies that were in place the cooperative accepted at that time."
(Lindholm) Burton is hoping its poaching contest will force the cooperative, and the other ski-only resorts out west to change their policies.
(Bosshard) "It’s not really the fact that we want to ride these mountains. It’s the principle, and we just want everybody to be on the same playing field."
(Lindholm) The contest is open until March 1, 2008. Any poachers who break the law or don’t buy a lift ticket will be disqualified.
For VPR news, I’m Jane Lindholm.