In days of plenty, an annual treat was the receipt of a Christmas card from Jackson Hole which took the form of a season’s lift pass (non-transferable, understandably enough).
It struck me then and strikes me still as very good PR, conveying a tremendous sense of privilege at nil cost to the donor, beyond postage.
There was no great risk that I or any of the other lucky recipients would use our season’s pass, but it certainly got us thinking about Jackson, and in a longing kind of way, at the right time of year. If only our lives were less cluttered, we could up sticks for winter and live it large in Rendez Vous Bowl. And if domestic push came to shove, would it really be so bad? Parting might indeed be sweet sorrow, with a Jackson Hole season pass in the back pocket. You keep the house and the children, I’ll have the Christmas cards. Maybe we just need a little breathing space .… like, four months.
Now the Vail Resorts multi-national juggernaut has come up with a variation on the theme: a competition with a lifetime pass as the prize for the first ten skiers to ski the 26 resorts in four countries covered by the Epic Pass – Vail and neighbours in Colorado, a few in and around Lake Tahoe and Salt Lake City, plus Verbier, the Trois Vallées and the Arlberg, and (just to make things more difficult) two somewhat obscure resorts somewhere near the Great Lakes. They call it a race to Ski The World, which is a slight exaggeration, but still, it’s an exciting thought.
The idea of dashing off in a latter-day re-enactment of Around The World in 80 Days may sound absurd, but I bet there are plenty of takers for it, as there were for Gumball and all the other show-off rallies that were so fashionable before the crash.
All you have to do – that fateful phrase – is buy a season’s Epic Pass (about £500), register (from November 1st), and away you go. http://www.snow.com/epic-pass/info/epic-race.aspx
Most of these American resorts will open for Thanksgiving, and weather permitting the European resorts will be open for business at around the same time. The small print is designed to stop people skiing multiple resorts in a day. Even so, the prize winners will have finished well before Christmas.
Many others will invest a lot of skiing and travelling time and money, without winning the ski prize of a lifetime. Never mind: they will have the rest of the season to use their Epic Pass.
Devote two weeks to three of the biggest and best Alpine ski areas, and spend the rest of the season skiing all you can manage in Vail’s American resorts – in Colorado, Utah and California (and Minnesota and Michigan if you insist). Not bad, for £500, when you think a day pass at Vail costs more than £80. Epic marketing. Shame there’s no Jackson Hole though.
Epic Pass coverage:
Unlimited skiing at:
Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Canyons, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, Arapahoe Basin, and Eldora.
5 days at each Verbier, Switzerland; Arlberg, Austria (St. Anton, St. Cristoph, Stuben, Zürs, and Lech); and Les 3 Vallées, France (Courchevel, La Tania, Méribel, Brides-les-Bains, Les Menuires, Saint Martin de Belleville, Val Thorens and Orelle).