Just how far will companies go to sell product? Too far, in my opinion.
The latest example comes to us from Jake Burton, founder of Burton snowboards. He has offered a $5,000 reward for the best video of a snowboarder trespassing he calls it poaching on one of the four ski resorts in the country that do not allow snowboarding.
It's more about egos and ill-conceived promotional stunts to drum up more board sales than good judgment.
There are hundreds of ski areas around the United States that welcome boarders, and four two here in Utah, Alta and Deer Valley that don't. The other two are Mad River Glen in Vermont and Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico. Taos has announced it will start letting snowboarders on its lifts in March.
Burton, no doubt, believes it to be good business. I'd call it stupid.
In order to poach, snowboarders are most likely going to have to enter the resort from out-of-bounds areas devoid of avalanche control. That means hiking and traversing into what could be very dangerous conditions, especially here in Utah.
One boarder was killed in an avalanche in 2006 and three in 2003, all snowboarding in uncontrolled areas.
And once the video is shot and the patrol arrives, to what lengths will the snowboarders go to avoid capture? A high-speed chase putting boarders, patrol and skiers at risk? Or riding back out of bounds into avalanche territory?
Just what risks will snowboarders, especially young ones, take to win big cash and get their 15 seconds of fame?
It was the same story in 2005 when Patagonia announced, or tried to, anyway, to the world that its sponsored climber, Dean Potter of Moab, had become the first to climb Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, even though he wasn't the first. Others had, but did it not for fame or fortune, and kept it to themselves. Park rules were very clear that it was not to be climbed.
When criticisms started to flow in, Potter, a world-class climber, claimed ignorance, claiming he didn't know, even though he lived in nearby Moab, had been planning the climb for 12 years and met regularly with other Moab climbers who later condemned his publicity stunt.
Patagonia was hoping the publicity would help sells more shorts and socks. When the stunt failed, it stopped the calls and tried to justify its action by saying it prefers to deal with people like Potter who don't go "by the book." This, now, from a company that professes protection of national treasures. Potter damaged a very delicate arch with Patagonia's blessing.
Ski resorts have a right to ban snowboards. Right or wrong, good or bad, it's their right.
Here in Utah there are 11 world-class resorts where snowboarders can ride. There are only two where they can't.
Now, if something does happen, and someone is hurt going for the video, don't expect Burton to step forward and claim any responsibility. He will, like Potter, claim ignorance.And if, in fact, sales are slumping, maybe he should concentrate on building better boards rather than coming up with a publicity stunt that could, very easily, turn deadly.
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