One down, four to go as Ajax snowboard ban is lifted.

The snowboard ban at Ajax was officially consigned to the trash can of history last Thursday, when Aspen Ski Company and owners the Crown family, announced the ban would be lifted from April 1st 2001.The announcement represents the first significant victory for Free The Snow in our campaign to see an end to division on US ski slopes. At last, Aspen Ski Company has opened its mind and accepted the idea of providing an open mountain for all snow enthusiasts with the skills, passion and respect for others.

As Jake Burton said when he heard about the ban being lifted ìHey, I’d be lying if I didnít say it was overdue, but you have to respect a company that doesnít let pride get in the way of a sound decision.î

Officially, Aspen Ski Company maintains their decision to lift the ban was purely based on business, and that Free The Snow did little more than raise awareness. But at a meeting of the Aspen Mensí Club over the weekend, COO John Norton reportedly acknowledged Free The Snow for being instrumental in ASCís change of policy and congratulated us on the way we had run the campaign.

“While we canít claim to have directly forced the issue, where we did succeed was by using limited resources to transform the debate on snowboarding at Ajax from one based largely on the emotional arguments, into a factual discussion which made it obvious there were no real justifications for the ban.” says FTS coordinator Matt Kreitman. “In doing so we were helped by local Aspen and Colorado based media who simply by being objective, doing their jobs and asking questions about the issues we raised, confirmed the lack of justification for a ban. A lot of local volunteers also put in time and work and their efforts are now rewarded.”

From now on Free The Snowís efforts in Aspen will be devoted to working with the Aspen Ski Company to ensure their change of policy and the lifting of the ban is completely successful. Free The Snow offers its complete support in making this so. Aspen has announced a major event to launch snowboarding at Aspen and we plan to be there in line on April 1st and urge all boarders that can make it to be there too.

The conclusion by Aspen Ski Company that their ban represented a flawed business policy, makes it all the harder for Taos Ski Valley to continue to maintain their ban is based in business rational. For this reason the campaign in Taos will increasingly reach out to the local business community which is increasingly expressing its hostility to the ban. The campaign will now also be extended at Alta and expanded to include Mad River Glen and Deer Valley.