Snowboarder, Skier Agree: Let Mad River Stay Snowboard-Free

You’ve probably heard that Taos opened up its terrain to snowboarders during the last few weeks of the 2007-08 season. The reaction was remarkable, with an unfortunate display of immaturity, animosity and ignorance among both skiers and riders. Within a day or two of the management of Taos making its announcement, the site was flooded with comments–100 pages in Microsoft Word, 12 point Times-Roman.

I’ve been meaning to say more about this topic, and was recently reminded of it when I spent some time with ski and snowboard journalists and industry professionals, including Eric Friedman, the marketing director of Mad River Glen, New Hampshire.

One afternoon, I was part of a group of five, three skiers and two riders, roaming around Cannon Mountain, Vermont. A few times the riders would get into challenging terrain–by which I mean almost entirely flat. Depending on how much speed I carried into the flat–itself a function of the terrain preceding it and how I handled it, whether I’m with a group of people or solo and other factors–I can slide through it with no problem or a few problems. (Sometimes I have to give up and walk.)

As the five of us were traversing one of the flats, Eric extended his ski pole to each of the riders, offering to pull one or both of us along until we had gained enough speed.

It turns out that neither of us riders required the use of the pole, but I loved the comment Eric made in a light-hearted moment: “Don’t say that I’ve never helped snowboarders.”

For the record, Mad River Glen and anyone else who wants a skier-only (or snowboarder-only) “ski” area should be free to do so. MRG is a co-op, not a profit-seeking organization, and as such isn’t going to put profit above principle. I expect it to ban snowboards indefinitely, which is just fine.

Snowboarders who are adults should, among all riders, be most sympathetic to the right of an organization to decide how it wants to run itself. After all, we’ve been around long enough to know that you can’t–and shouldn’t–go through life expecting that everyone will cater to your whims. Riders, not being able to take your snowboard to 3 lift-served terrains out of 500 or so isn’t going to ruin your life.

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