Snowboarders Plan Protest of Skiers-Only Rule at Vt. Ski Area

Friday's fresh snowfall was a welcome sight at Mad River Glen in Fayston, Vermont.

"We definitely need this," said Matt Lillard, the general manager of the popular ski area.

Mad River Glen needed natural snow because it doesn't make a lot of its own, and during this week's mild weather, so much melted, it had to shut down ski operations.

"We've taken a pretty big hit over the past two or three weeks," Lillard said of the snow at the destination.

However, Friday's snowfall left Mad River Glen pumped to reopen Saturday.

Thomas Brown, a student at Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburg, said he plans to be at Mad River Glen early Saturday, for an unusual form of protest.

"Why not include everyone?" the snowboarder asked, referring to a certain policy at Mad River Glen.

The ski area's rules actually don't allow snowboarding — it's skiing only there. Mad River Glen is a co-op and its shareholders voted on that as a local rule long ago.

"We would like to see that change," Brown said. "I think it'd be fun to include everyone and let everyone be there and enjoy their mountain."

Brown is helping organize a group of snowboarders that is promising to "poach" Mad River Glen early Saturday morning, planning to hike up the hill before it opens and ride down to demonstrate their desire to use the slopes right alongside the skiers.

"There's not a lot of mountains that have a natural terrain, and that's what they have — so that's why they attract a lot of people," Brown said of the appeal of Mad River Glen and why he'd like to ride there.

Lillard said he does not expect the skiing-only stance at the ski area to change.

"I think our policy works really well," Lillard told necn. "It's one of the things that makes Mad River Glen what it is. We're a ski area, we've always have been one, and always want to be one. I'm not interested in revisiting it. It's really up to the shareholders — they're the ones that decide."

So for now, it appears that Mad River Glen will stay just for the skiers, who'll certainly be glad for this weekend's return of winter weather.

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