The Amazing, Great, Worldwide Epic Race

Vail Resorts hosted a contest to see who could ski all of its resorts across the globe first

These guys won a lifetime of Epic.

These guys won a lifetime of Epic.

On December 20, 2013 in Bride-les-Bains, France, the first ever Epic Race winners skied into victory. For the previous month, several hundred skiers had been battling to see who could ski every resort offered on Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass—26 ski areas total spanning four countries and five states. Whoever did so first, and documented their travels for proof, would win a lifetime Epic Pass.

Exactly 132 people showed up to the final day of competition. But only 10 would win. The concluding battle was full on, with competitors racing between three French towns via gondola, checking off required stops on the way. Even after they crossed the finish line with photos to prove they reached all of the stops on the race, participants had to wait a full nail-biting week before Vail Resorts confirmed the 10 winners who would be officially ordained as lifelong Epic passholders.

Surviving rental car breakdowns, hopping between opening days, missing flights, dealing with bulky ski luggage (while flying internationally), using all the allotted sick days at work, and waking up to get an early start after weathering a European Après the day before—the road to lifetime Epicness was not easy. But the ten winners have no regrets.

“Totally worth it!” says winner Devin Rhinehart, engineer by workday, King of the Daffy by ski day.

Winner John Victor, a Vail ski patroller for three years, says the Epic Race “was an excuse to ski Europe.” Rookie Joe Jenson won even though it was his first season skiing. “I was like, you know this gives me an opportunity to check out all the resorts, so why not?” says Jenson. Winner Steve Sacco thought there would be 20 or 30 people competing, as did Vail officials. But when 300 people registered, expectations were exceeded.

“Just to have that experience, to say you skied 26 mountains, in four countries, five states, in under a month is pretty exciting,” says Sacco.

Living up to the title of Epic, Rhinehart and his partner in crime, Greg Hyde, flew to Mount Brighton, Michigan in onesies and snowblades, convenient because they didn’t have any checked luggage. Following suit, competitor Adam Warot brought a piece of ‘Merica to Europe by importing two liters of Fireball and toting a portable shotski—we’re talking hinges and all—across the Atlantic.

Celebrating a competitor’s 60th birthday at a French bar, competing with your dad, meeting up with long lost high school friends, downing cinnamon “whiskey” in European gondolas, skiing Austria, and now having a lifetime pass to forever ski these places, Victor says it best, “It’s going to be a tough one to beat for one of my favorite lifetime experiences.”

Add a comment

  • VAIL LOVER

    Yea, does anyone want to touch base with the fact that VAIL TOTALLY SCREWED OVER 120 CONTESTANTS?!? Constant rule changes, poor communication skills, technical difficulties with YOUR WEBSITE, and piss for the 120 people who worked their ass off and spent thousands of dollars. I know 5 people who are going to rock your world Vail, so good luck. Thanks for the free chapstick and awesome sunglasses Vail Corp. You rock.

  • EpicRacer2255

    haaaa…. the first sentence says it all!!!!! “On December 20, 2013 in Bride-les-Bains, France, the first ever Epic Race winners skied into victory.” NOT!! Vail had a ‘ski’ race end in a town that has NO SKIING! Brides les Bains is a government paid fat camp with absolutely no skiing. It kinda sums it up so well!! Vail had no idea what they were doing on this entire event.

  • Epic Racer

    We were among two of the “losers” who finished the Epic Race on December 20th. Epic Race organizers bent over backwards to help racers NOT GET SCREWED during the 29 race days. We were among many of the racers who planned for over a month in an attempt to finish on the day Brides-les-Bains opened their gondola. We had to plan and book travel in advance to several resorts for opening day, to be able to finish on the 20th. If organizers hadn’t changed the rules to account for closed resorts, lifts, and trails, we would not have been able to afford to return later to finish. Not only did Vail Resorts take into account unforeseen issues, they magnanimously gave all finishers a free Epic Pass for the 2014-15 season, way cool Helly Hansen jackets, bling, and 2 parties. I found this thread searching for news for Epic Race 2, hoping to have a second chance to repeat one of the best experiences of our life. Maybe the whiners will skip the next race, making it more fun for all.

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