The sport of snowboarding was just taking off in 1986, with an estimated 100,000 snowboarders across the U.S. The new riders didn’t get a warm welcome from skiers and ski areas. About 190 of 250 U.S. ski resorts had some kind of restriction on the use of snowboards. Duluth’s Spirit Mountain was among resorts with a total ban.
"I don’t think that’s ever going to change," Spirit Mountain Executive Director Larry Hutchinson said at the time. "We’ve had two people in two years come here and request to use them." He added that the resort’s insurance didn’t cover activities other than skiing.
Snowboarders were welcome at Mont du Lac. "There are some bad feelings in the industry toward people with skiboards, and I don’t really know why," said Bob Tranholt, the the ski area’s owner.
Up the North Shore at Lutsen, snowboarders had to prove their competency on a test run before being allowed on a lift, and then were allowed to board on only one run.
Twenty-four years later, snowboards are nearly as common as skis at most resorts, which create terrain parks with jumps, halfpipes, rails and more to cater to the snowboarding crowd. Spirit Mountain now is know as home to one of the best snowboard parks inthe Midwest.