Minnesota man climbing EpicMix leaderboard 220 vertical feet at a time | VailDaily.com

Minnesota man climbing EpicMix leaderboard 220 vertical feet at a time

Scroll through Vail Resorts' EpicMix leaderboard for any given season and you'll see a lot of the same logos in the "most visited" column: Heavenly, Breck, Keystone, Vail, etc.

But this season, there has been a Zermatt-looking peak in the top-5 that seems to jump off the page — what logo is that? Why, it's Afton Alps in Minnesota, where 57-year-old Bruce Larson has been shredding every night.

"I call it my get-off-the-couch program," Larson said in a phone call Wednesday, Jan. 17, from his hometown of Woodbury in Minnesota.

Larson works full time as an architect in St. Paul and is married with a 17-year-old son. In search of exercise, he decided to start using Vail Resorts' EpicMix app to track his vertical feet about five years ago.

"I got into EpicMix to keep up with my brother, who lives in Eagle," Larson said. "He can get 100,000 vert in two days, and it takes me seven days of skiing at night after work from 6 to 9:30 to get to 100,000."

'DURING THE VIKINGS GAME'

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Bruce's brother, Eagle resident Steve Larson, is the kind of skier you might expect a longtime local to be. He gets out when the conditions are good.

"He says he's more about quality than quantity," Bruce Larson said.

When they first started using the app, the brothers both hit 1 million vertical feet at roughly the same time for the first few years.

This season, however, our man in Afton is actually beating his brother in Eagle by quite a bit. Afton Alps opened before Vail and Beaver Creek, and has been enjoying cold weather conditions.

"It's been a blast this season," Larson said. "I was skiing during the Vikings game on Sunday because it was dumping snow — I was getting updates from the lifties every time I lapped by."

After making enough snow to open earlier than usual this year, conditions at the Twin Cities area resort have stayed fairly consistent for the rest of the season so far, Larson said.

"They were able to stay open pretty steadily and then once it got cold at Thanksgiving we've had great snow since," Larson said. "I think we've only had one or two days where it's been warm, so it wasn't long enough of a stretch to turn our snow into a glacier like it can do if it warms up."

NO DAYS OFF

Larson tries to get over 100 days and over 1,000,000 vertical feet every year. He also tries to take a few trips out west to vacation with friends and stack vertical 2,000 feet at a time, as opposed to 200.

"A million of my vertical feet is usually at Afton Alps, and then I'll get another quarter million or so out west," he said. "This year, with the early start, I'm shooting for 115 days and over 1.3 million vertical feet."

Larson visited Eagle and Summit counties over the holidays, driving in from Minnesota and picking up a friend in Iowa on the way.

"We drove all day and skied at night at Keystone, so I didn't miss a ski day," Larson said. "Then we skied Vail, Beaver Creek, Breck and ended again at Keystone, so when we were done at Keystone we could drive right back. And then I skied the next night at Afton."

FOLLOW ALONG

Check out Larson’s progress by clicking “this season” under the “All time” tab on epicmix.com/leaderboard.