Burton Snowboards’ advertisement run in the October 2001 issue of Skiing Magazine was a statement for snowboarders everywhere to call out and expose the blatant bigotry of anti-snowboarding policies. While snowboarders may not have nearly as much to complain about as some other minorities, we feel bigotry in any form is inexcusable.
This ad is a representation of exposing prejudice towards snowboarders, as were many articles and responses printed in the Valley Reporter after MRG’s tasteless, obnoxious, and antagonistic April Fool’s joke, announcing that they were allowing snowboarding. The question posed by a local snowboarder Robert Graham was, “Why continue to perpetuate negative, mean-spirited, outdated, prejudiced animosity toward snowboarders?” Many of the responses tried to explain how snowboarders swipe the snow downhill far more than skiers do; they cut deep grooves into the mountain; and, the terrain is “too steep and twisty;” Come on, this is Vermont, not B.C.!
Burton has supported such campaigns as Free the Snow, a non-profit organization that campaigns against the ban of snowboarding at specific U.S. resorts; visit www.freethesnow.com to learn more. MRG is one of the four resorts left in the U.S. closed to snowboarders, even though in the late 80’s and early 90’s snowboarding was allowed at MRG. Many people have heard a story, fabrication, or have their own thoughts about why MRG closed their mountain to snowboarders. It has been an uphill battle that Free the Snow, fellow snowboarders, and some skiers have been fighting since the slopes closed in 1993. To help surface the truth, Burton thought it was time to expose the true story:
A young man growing up in the Mad River Valley had been skiing at MRG for years with his family. His father had been on the Ski Patrol for 30 years and like many of us, grew up on the slopes. Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s snowboarding was the “new strange sport” and often riders were treated like the “new kids on the block.” MRG’s style of handling snowboarders was questionable from the get-go. Snowboarders were forced to deal with rules like only riding on the practice slope on Wednesdays, or only being allowed on the double and the little double chair lifts. After two years of this nonsense, snowboarders were still not allowed on the entire mountain.
It was after a sick powder day this young man and a friend, a former ski patroller, went to talk to Betsy Pratt, the former owner of MRG to talk about being able to get on the single chair lift. This is where many of the stories have evolved over the years. The two young men approached Betsy for a casual conversation to try and plead their case. After 15-20 minutes of trying to plead a futile case with Betsy, the guys decided to leave, and this seemed to be the moment that closed MRG to snowboarders. The former patroller allegedly turned around and said to Betsy, “It’s like we’re treated like African Americans were in the 1950’s.”
Betsy’s reply was “How about we just don’t have snowboarding at all?” It ended there-the supposed reason MRG has been closed to snowboarders since 1993.
The stories over time have been exaggerated because of some events that unfortunately took place after Betsy closed the mountain. There was a group of snowboarders who did try to interview Betsy by following her into a grocery store, but were not successful.
This past April Fool’s Day joke is a clear statement of disrespect and bigotry toward snowboarders who have been working to help open MRG’s minds. In a day, age, and place when common respect and community is so important, it’s a shame to see such ignorance on the part of MRG.
Jake Burton founded Burton Snowboards, the world’s first snowboard factory, in 1977. The company is now headquartered in Burlington, Vermont with international offices in Innsbruck, Austria and Urawa, Japan. Whether on the snow or off, Burton solely devotes their time to creating and perfecting the best in snowboarding equipment. The Company continuously works with team riders to develop, design, test, and market a full-range of snowboarding products. Burton equipment, clothing, and accessories are crafted for riders of all ages and abilities.
Snowboarding is Burton’s passion and is evident in the company’s overriding mission to open mountains and grow the sport worldwide. Today, as the company prepares for its 25th anniversary, and snowboarding itself gears up for its Olympic encore in 2002, Burton is the brand of choice for millions of committed riders around the world.