Skiers and snowboarders at Vail Resorts will be able to track their days on the slopes and the vertical feet they roll up by simply buying a lift ticket, which will come with an EpicMixTM online and mobile application. Resort officials unveiled the new program this week.
The tiny chip also will allow those who choose to transmit their on-snow accomplishments on Facebook and Twitter, find out which of their "Friends" are on the mountain, and contact those "Friends" to make lunch plans or offer a head's up on lift line lengths or hidden snow stashes.
Vail Resorts Chairman and CEO Rob Katz told OnTheSnow.com the company has sought a system like this for several years.
"There is a huge resurgence in skiing among Millennials and Gen-Xers," he said, probably driven by freestyle skiing and terrain parks. "These skiers and riders are incredibly attached to social media."
EpicMix blends these two trends, but "will also work for all our guests, and capture the experience without impeding the fun of skiing. You don't have to buy a device or pay anything extra," he said.
Katz explained that what are called RF chips - radio frequency - have been embedded into Vail Resorts tickets for a number of years and scanned at the bottom as a skier or rider starts his or her day.
EpicMix is a digital application that guests can access online, at their computer, or via a free mobile application downloaded for the iPhone, Android, or other smart phone.
Every Vail Resorts ticket, whether a season pass or a PEAKS lift ticket, will automatically track guests' lift rides, calculating vertical feet covered and days on the mountain, and will recognize special achievements and accomplishments by granting guests commemorative, collectible pins.
Katz said that could be something like first one on the lift, a blue sky day, or a powder day.
Others require more effort. The Nightrider pin, for instance, comes when you've used three different lifts in one night. The Echo pin reflects 350,000 vertical feet.
There will be a special EpicMix for youngsters 13 and younger, with different graphics and parental privacy controls.
Guests concerned about these issues can disable the chip or, "if you never go online to see" what your chip recorded, Vail Resorts will not receive any information generated by your ticket, Katz said.