Snowboarder stereotype squelched

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    By Elizabeth Stitt

    When snowboarding first became popular in the ?90s, snowboarders had the stigma of being grungy, live-on-the-edge teen-agers who were out to get skiers, but some snow enthusiasts now say that stereotype is overrated and will soon die out.

    The conflict between skiers and snowboarders may be dying as the younger generation of snowboarders grows up and the sport becomes more mainstream, said John LaPlante, author of Grays on Trays, an online publication that focuses on snowboarders over 30 years old.

    ?The early generation of snowboarders, some of whom indeed were punks, are now adults and, one hopes, more sensible than they were 20 years ago,? LaPlante said.

    La Plante also said because snowboarding has been around for several years now, skiers are getting used to having snowboarders around.

    ?The novelty of snowboarding has worn off,? LaPlante said. ?It?s fairly mainstream now, so media outlets will be less interested in conflict stories.?

    The National Ski Areas Association developed a ski code that outlines responsibilities skiers and snowboarders have when navigating the slopes. Czar Johnson, manager of skier services at Sundance Ski Resort, said skiers and snowboarders should follow the code.

    ?If everyone abides by that [code], everyone will get along and have fun,? Johnson said. ?The bottom line and the root philosophy of the code is simply to respect one another.?

    He said some of the problems between skiers and snowboarders may just be related to the different mechanics of the sports.

    ?It has nothing to do with the attitude of snowboarders themselves, it?s the nature of how they ride the boards,? Johnson said. ?They have a significant blind spot. A skier looks to the left and they know they?re clear. A snowboarder would have to turn all the way around to see behind them.?

    LaPlante also said snowboarders, commonly called riders, have a tendency to sit down in the middle of the trail.

    ?Skiers think riders are either inconsiderate, lazy or both,? LaPlante said.

    However, some said stereotypical snowboarding problems do hold true at times.

    ?Snowboarders themselves are often part of the problem,? LaPlante said. ?Partly it?s just kids acting like kids, with exuberance. Then there?s the poseur problem that some riders are afflicted with, ?I?m a rebel; I?m a punk and so what???

    LaPlante said skiers get annoyed with riders because of the inconvenience they sometimes bring. Many ski resorts open halfpipes and terrain parks that run through existing ski trails and at least 85 resorts have snowboard-only terrain parks.

    ?Sometimes riders bring changes to the terrain that disrupt old, favored patterns and places,? LaPlante said.

    Snowboarding is fairly popular now, though, and the typical stereotype of the sport is changing as the demographics change. Johnson said many families now snowboard together, so the age of snowboarders is more varied and the sport is mellower. Many skier and snowboarder friends now ride together which may not have happened several years ago.

    Snowboarding is now accepted at almost every ski resort. According to the National Ski Areas Association, only three alpine ski resorts in its trade association still deny snowboarders: Alta Ski Area, Deer Valley Ski Resort and Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico.

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