Here's what I sent to them:
Theodore Wirth Snowboard Park,
I'm Mark Davidson, President of the Ski and Snowboard Club at the University of Minnesota, and I would just like to ask you a question about your snowboard-only policy. Why? What is the argument behind this? There is no logical reason behind this policy, other than pure publicity.
When snowboarding first appeared en masse, it was banned from most ski areas. It quickly (for the most part, Deer Valley and Alta are sad exeptions to this rule) became clear that there is no need nor any logical reason for skiers and snowboarders to be segregated. If someone at your organization would be so kind as to inform me of the basis of the no-skier policy, it would be greatly appreciated.
As the leader of a student organization with over 300 devoted members and as an avid skier and lover of ALL winter sports, I am always happy to help others out in their pursuit of exposing their sport to others. I do not, however, condone discrimination simply for the sake of discrimination, and
it appears to me, and plenty others in the Twin Cities skier "community", that this is exactly what Theodore Wirth park is doing. By dividing the winter sports community, all you are doing is hurting yourselves.
In writing this letter, all I hope to accomplish is to persuade Theodore Wirth to allow skiers to ride the park. Simply access is all I, and other skiers, ask. We are not looking for lessons, our own seperate space, competitions, or anything of the sort. What do you lose from allowing skiers access? Nothing. All you gain is a better reputation and more customers.
As previously stated, it would be much appreciated if I could get a response from someone pertaining to the reasoning behind this policy. As also previously stated, I would be more than happy to promote Theodore Wirth park to our club, but I will NOT promote, advocate, or merely suggest it if there continues to be blatent discrimination against skiers,
for no apparent reason.
I apologize if the tone of this letter comes across as aggressive or hateful. I may be missing a crucial bit of information as to why skiers are not allowed. But if such information exists, it needs to be made public so that people do not see your organization as being anti-skiing.
Thank you for your consideration, and I hope I receive a reply from
Ski AND Snowboard Club at the University of Minnesota
Here's what I got back:
I would like to thank you for your inquire about Theodore Wirth Park. I can see how things can easily become
distorted when the true facts are not known.
The communication that you have displayed is disheartening due to your background and stature. If you feel that the words "discrimination" and "segregated" are terms that you deem necessary in this matter then please know the facts.
I'm sure you know that Theodore Wirth was a ski area between 1950 and 1980. The ski program was established and operated by Jimmy Johnston, the cofounder of PSIA. The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board(MPRB) eliminated the skiing program due to liability reasons. The costs of maintaining the ski equipment (mainly the bindings) became too high and the three tow ropes were taken down.
The MPRB hired me to create a snowboard program in 2005. I ran a successful ski & snowboard school 12 years prior to working with the city. I have been in the snowboard industry for 23 years and I have seen true discrimination between skiers and snowboarders. This is not what Theodore Wirth is about.
Theodore Wirth Park has a limited amount of building space and money. The board selected snowboarding and cross-country skiing as niche markets to keep costs down and enable the park to handle a low amount of inventory and staff. We are not the Three Rivers Park system and we will never be Hyland Hills.
The MPRB has purchased 45 units of Burton rental equipment (LTR Learn-To-Ride) and hired 8 instructors to take care of rental, lessons, park design and tow rope duties. Our third season is showing growth so we have added so new items to our park because of this growth.
The snowboard only policy came into effect due to the lack of the money and space available to operate both the ski and snowboard markets simultaneously. If we allowed skiing, we would have to offer all of the same services to the general public. The amount of money and staff needed to do this (and do it right) would inhibit the markets we are currently focusing on. If we allowed skiing in our park, it would not be fair to not teach others how to ski or to ski park terrain. We also don't have the space or money to facilitate a downhill ski & ski rental program.
Our program is endorsed by Jack Hurst, the director of AASI Central Division, Jay, Joel and Jesse Erickson of the
Alternative Bike and Board, Scott Oreschnick of Cal Surf and the MPRB. Both retail shops mentioned above carry
products that they know and understand.
I see that your club has discount arrangements with The Alt and Cal Suf so please feel free to talk to them if you have any questions about the integrity or focus of our program at Wirth. We leave the decision up to you for endorsement and we hope we have shed some light on this issue.
So, what's your take on that? I think it's a cop out. Yeah, it might not be "fair" to allow skiing but not teach it, but it's even less fair to not allow skiers to simply ride the park for that reason. I'll be the first to admit that using 'discrimination' and 'segregation' might have been a little over-the-top, but shit man, that's all it is.
Take skateparks for example. Been around 30 some years, right? All skateparks allow skateboarding, and almost all rollerblading (unless they're run by say, DC or Etnies, something exclusively-skateboard), and many allow bikers. The only reason bikers are not allowed at many skateparks is simply because they take up too much room in a small park. This reasoning cannot be applied to skiing/snowboarding, as skis and snowboards are comparable in size.
Also, many skateparks are very skateboard-oriented, but still allow rollerblading. Many of these parks cater to the skateboarders with clinics, demos, lessons, comps, lock-ins, etc. Many offer these same programs to rollerbladers, many do not. Mpls's own 3rd lair is an example of this. They offer skateboard lessons, and skateboard camps, host many different team tours, but offer none of the same to rollerbladers. They still allow bladers though.
My point in all of that is that Theodore Wirth doesn't have to ban skiers simply because they can't offer everything they can for snowboarding. Skiing really isn't even that popular right now, it's still coming up; most kids want to snowboard.
I've still got to reply to his reply, and as legit as liability/costs are, he didn't even answer my question. I wrote that we (I know all of you aren't concerned w/ renting/lessons) aren't concerned with all the 'benefits' boarders have, we simply want access, and he answers that it's because they can't offer skiing the same. Ok, so why can't you just let skiers ride there? I try to use the fact that snowboarding was discriminated against as a uniting theme, and he uses it against me. I clearly stated that I could be missing facts (which I assumed I was) which would explain the situation and apologized in advance for my tone, because like I said, I knew it was a bit over the top and extreme.