Besides the built-in euphoric fun that comes with a day on the mountain, it’s safe to say that people of all ages and skill levels have always felt like skiing or snowboarding is an achievement on some level. Many have long since tallied their ski days and number of runs. Even before GPS became readily accessible, some skiers estimated the vertical feet skied in a day and made note of especially challenging terrain. Maybe at some time they had someone in their ski group take a photo of them standing under a double black trail sign for evidence.
In its fifth season, Vail Resorts’ EpicMix has its young, tech savvy skiers and riders tapped in. Virtually everybody who skis or rides at any of VR’s 10 domestic ski areas (Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly, NorthStar and Kirkwood in Tahoe, Canyons, UT, Afton Alps, MN, Mt. Brighton, MI) has their data collected in EpicMix whether they know it or not. Last season, EpicMix tallied a total of well over 82 billion vertical feet skied.
Even tourists who come in for a day or two of skiing receive a lift ticket in the form of a card containing a chip that collects EpicMix data. The chip’s RF code is automatically scanned at every lift. But you can’t access the data until you open a free account on epicmix.com by entering the number on your pass or lift ticket and creating a username and password. After that, magically all of the information from your ski day(s) will be waiting:
• the number of days you’ve skied at any Vail Resort
• the number and names of chairlifts ridden each day
• the vertical feet skied in a day
• any photos taken by a professional on the mountain who scanned your ticket/pass
• a number of quirky, virtual pins and medals awarded for riding specific lifts, skiing on specific days, etc.
• if you race on an EpicMix course (like Nastar), see how your times sizes up against others, including Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn
• if you’re in ski or snowboard school, see a tally of your level progression
You can then, for your own gloating pleasure, share all of this information and photos on social media, linking automatically to Facebook or Twitter. This is, of course, the most powerful and authentic kind of free advertising Vail Resorts could ever hope for.
Once you’re signed up with an EpicMix account, you don’t have to download the app or log onto the site to check your dashboard. EpicMix emails you updated info after every day on the mountain.
Much like various gaming apps, the competitive component of EpicMix is addictive. After all, we as humans are competitive creatures, wanting to weigh our efforts against others as well as constantly challenge ourselves. Attaining each of the EpicMix pins becomes a conquest, an obsessive one for some. It could start with the inadvertent acquisition of a 50-point pin, for instance, the High Five, awarded for skiing Vail’s High Noon Express lift five times. Then, we might want to push ourselves toward higher point pins – like the On The Hill, worth 150 points for skiing Vail Resorts 40 days in a season. Then, the big 250 pointers become our focus, like the Beaver Creek Conqueror, earned for riding all of the lifts at the Beav in one day. Or the even harder to achieve pins like the Epic Conqueror, awarded for riding every lift at every Vail Resort in the same season. The lesson here is this, if you’ve had a Vail Resorts pass or ticket and haven’t opened a free account on EpicMix yet, you might want to … if not for bragging rights, at least to see if the official tally of your ski achievements matches the unofficial one in your memory. Your stats might surprise you.
While there are plenty of tracking apps – EpicMix, VailGPS, SmartSki and Ski Tracks, to name a few – that record ski data such as vertical feet, slope angle, distance, fastest speed, etc, SlopeTours is a one-of-a-kind app that serves as your local pro on the mountain. Indeed formulated by local experts and longtime skiers at various resorts – Vail, Beaver Creek, Breck, Keystone, Copper Mountain and Snowmass (so far) – the app shows you exactly where to ski and ride. The tours are animated with text directions, based on your ability level – Novice, Intermediate, Advanced or Expert – and on different snow conditions. As far as the evidence of your tour, worry not. The app also has a route tracker, GPS that shows points of interest along the way – great views, restaurants, terrain parks, etc – and has Facebook, Twitter and email sharing capability. Just be sure not to glance at it while skiing or snowboarding. It’s obviously best to use it only when standing still or while on the chairlift.