Is Vail Resorts’ EpicMix too ‘big brother’? |

Is Vail Resorts’ EpicMix too ‘big brother’?

Sarah Mausolf
Vail, CO Colorado
NWS Pass Technology DT 11-19-10

VAIL, Colorado – Some people see EpicMix as a fun way to keep track of their vertical feet while others think it’s a bit “big brother.”

EpicMix is a new technology built into the Vail Resorts ski passes that tracks how many vertical feet skiers travel. The technology will work on Vail and Beaver Creek mountains.

Christopher SaBell from Arvada, who was skiing in Vail last week, isn’t sure he likes the idea of a resort knowing where skiers go.

“I kind of second guess it because now they’ll know where I’m at all times,” he said. “Don’t dare duck a rope.”

SaBell, 35, said he’s concerned about the tracking because he works for Vail Resorts and has an employee ID.

“I think it’s just that big brother mentality coming down on us,” he said.

The whole tracking thing doesn’t bother Superior resident Steve Bauer, 50, who enjoyed a few turns on opening day at Vail.

“I don’t care if somebody’s tracking me,” he said. “Just in case I don’t come back, they can look it up and say ‘The last chair he was on was Chair 11.”

He’s looking forward to comparing his vertical feet with his friends.

“Who’s done the most for the year?” he said. “Who gets to buy the beers at the end of the year because they finished last?”

The EpicMix technology uses a radio frequency chip to keep track of which lifts skiers ride – the chip doesn’t know which trails skiers are on. If people object to it, they can visit any ski pass office and have the chip removed with a device similar to a hole punch.

The option to remove the chip appeals to Vail resident Larry Tails, 25. He already has a plastic cover for his ski pass that blocks the chip’s signal.

For those who like to ride all kinds of terrain, including the more “risque stuff,” he said the chip can be a hassle.

“It’s better to fly under the radar,” Tails said.

Although the chip is not for him, it’s good for the resort, Tails said. He really likes how it’s set up so people can compare their vertical feet.

Sometime in December, the resort plans to launch the interactive features for EpicMix. People will be able to activate personal accounts on and look at their profiles. They can choose whether to make their profile public or post their ski stats to Facebook or Twitter.

Vail snowboarder CJ Poulin, 33, said he plans to look into the social media aspect of EpicMix.

He uses Facebook to keep in touch with friends back in Washington D.C. and wants to give them a broader picture of what goes on in Vail. The idea of posting information about your ski day is fun, he said.

“I’ll definitely post when I have one of those high number days,” he said. “It’s just kind of neat.”

EpicMix will also have applications for iPhone and Droid that allow people to view their stats. People can look up other friends who have made their EpicMix profiles public, see who’s on the mountain and send them messages.

Visitng from Wyoming, Jordan Rupe, 23, said Jackson Hole has a similar application for the iPhone that’s really popular.

“I don’t have it, but everybody’s into it,” he said.

Posting your whereabouts will be purely optional under EpicMix and the idea is to make communicating with friends easier.

But could it backfire?

“What if you told that one friend you were going to A-basin and you actually showed up at Vail and then they show up at Vail?” SaBell said. “It could have some stalker mentality to it.”

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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