EpicMix leader Vahid Vahedi accomplishes one goal, sets another
BRECKENRIDGE — On April 27, Colorado snowboarder Vahid Vahedi solidified his position atop this season's EpicMix leaderboard with his 178th consecutive day on a Vail Resorts mountain. EpicMix tracks skiers and snowboarders progress across Vail Resorts' eight mountains, counting the number of lifts riders load, measuring vertical feet skied and awarding points and online "pin" badges for on-mountain accomplishments. At the beginning of the season, Vahedi set a goal to be the first skier or snowboarder in EpicMix's four-year history to earn more than 300 pins; he ended the year on April 27 with 321. Some of those pins were easy to earn. Simply riding Vail's Gondola One on Opening Day garners a guest three pins — "Mountain Division" is earned for your first visit to Vail of the season, "Vail Opening Day" is earned for attending Vail's Opening Day and "Gondola One" is earned for riding Gondola One the first time in a season. But before Vahedi arrived at Vail for his Opening-Day pin haul, the Keystone local had already earned "Orange Slices" for covering 500,000 vertical feet, "The Venti" for 20 days in one season and nearly 50 other pins from Keystone, where he has lived the past few winters. 'WHAT ARE YOU DOING?' As the season progressed, Vahedi realized some of the pins he had set out to obtain would be especially difficult. To earn "Centenary," Vahedi had to ride Beaver Creek's Centennial lift 100 times during the course of the season. To earn "Day Tripper," he had to ride Beaver Creek, Vail, Keystone and Breckenridge all in the same day. And to earn "Steve Austin," arguably the hardest pin possible to obtain this season, he had to ride more than 6 million vertical feet from November to April. "At the beginning of the year, I didn't expect I would be able to get the Steve Austin pin," he said. "But by the end of the season, I realized I was going to make it with room to spare." Earning certain pins, for Vahedi, would prove to be more daunting than they would seem. To earn "Snow Jack Rabbit," Vahedi had to ride Beaver Creek's Buckaroo Gondola five times in a row. For an expert rider, all that time spent on the Beav's bunny hill was a painful endeavor. "My only goal going into the season was to get to 300 pins," he said. "It had never been done before and I wanted to be the first person to do it. At one point, while I was riding the Buckaroo Gondola, I thought to myself, 'What are you doing?'" RIDER ON THE ROAD Of course, with EpicMix offering pins at all of Vail Resorts' mountains, getting to that 300 mark would take some travel. To get "Tour de Force," Vahedi had to visit Keystone, Breckenridge, Vail, Beaver Creek, Canyons, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood all in a 100-day span. Vahedi hit the road, visiting Canyons in Utah and Vail Resorts' three California mountains in February, and with fortune on his side, he happened to be in California for one of the only true powder days the Lake Tahoe-area resorts would see this year. "The locals were saying it was the first powder day of the year, and it was February!" Vahedi said. "I guess I got lucky." While he was there, he rode Northstar's Martis Camp Express lift 100 times in just three days, earning the Centurion pin. "That was definitely one of the most difficult to get," he said. 'FAVORITE OF THEM ALL' While traveling, Vahedi says he really got a feel for the local culture of each of the eight mountains on EpicMix. "People were approaching me saying, 'Hey, I know you from EpicMix,'" he said. Of all of the mountains, one in particular has made a deep impression on him. "The hardcore skiing and riding culture at Vail was most impressive to me of all the mountains," he said. "Meeting guys like Cesar Hermosillo at Vail was really inspiring, the passion and dedication these guys have for skiing is really impressive." Hermosillo, famous around Vail for catching the first gondola up the mountain every day, says being introduced to guys like Vahedi is one of the main reasons he follows EpicMix. "It's really brought together the people who most enjoy the sport," said Hermosillo, who's currently third on EpicMix's all-time leaderboard (spanning the four seasons EpicMix has been in operation), one spot in front of Vahedi. "Meeting a guy like Vahid, who's just as passionate as we are about the sport, for me, probably wouldn't have happened without EpicMix." Vahedi says he sets a new goal for himself every year — this year was to obtain 300 pins, this past year was to ride every single lift at all of Vail Resorts' mountains. He accomplished both of those goals. For next year, "My only goal is to move to Vail and become a true Vail local," said Vahedi. "It's definitely my favorite mountain of them all."