An 'epic' rivalry: Aspen v. Vail

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenDecember 31, 2011
The “Epic” flag isn't expected to wave atop Highland Bowl this ski season.

And it has nothing to do with the scant snowfall in December.

The “epic” tradition that began at Aspen Highlands almost nine years ago quietly came to an end after the 2008/2009 season — when the word became a centerpiece of Vail Resorts' marketing campaigns.

“We all know where the 'original' Epic is from,” Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle recently wrote in an email to Real Aspen. “We (Highlands Patrol) invented it, and it was hijacked.”

Back in March 2003, ski patrollers first hoisted a flag with the word “Epic” on the ridge of Highland Bowl as a testament to the unusually deep powder — 22 inches in 24 hours – that graced its slopes.

It soon became a local tradition that whenever ski conditions transcended beyond the usual scope of awesomeness, Highlands patrollers would raise the “Epic” flag to commemorate the day's big bounty.

Then in the spring of 2008, Vail Resorts rolled out the EpicPass — a heavily discounted season pass that today allows access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly and Northstar.

Vail Resorts followed it up with the launch of EpicMix, which captures on-slope activity so customers can track the number of days and vertical feet they ski, see where they rode, earn points that can be redeemed for special offers and easily access pictures taken by on-mountain photographers.

Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol Director Mac Smith “said this will be the third season they haven't flown the flag,” according to Hanle, adding that an “Epic” Post-it Note did fly at Highlands two seasons ago.

A Vail Resorts spokeswoman did not return a message seeking comment, but the company's EpicPass has been widely hailed as the salvation of Vail in the down economy that ensued after its unveiling. Vail's pass can be purchased for roughly half the price as a full-season pass to Aspen's four mountains.

So far this season though, ski conditions at most of Colorado's resorts have been anything but epic.

The state's snowpack is 73 percent of its average and December is among the driest in recent memory.
An advertisement for Vail Resorts.

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Snow Report

  24hr snow mid dpth snow cond.
A-Basin n/a n/a
Aspen n/a n/a closed
BC n/a n/a closed
Breckenridge n/a n/a closed
Buttermilk n/a n/a closed
Copper n/a n/a closed
Crest. Butte n/a n/a closed
Eldora n/a n/a closed
Heavenly n/a n/a closed
Highlands n/a n/a
Howelsen n/a n/a closed
Keystone n/a n/a closed
Kirkwood n/a n/a closed
Loveland n/a n/a
Monarch n/a n/a closed
Northstar n/a n/a closed
Powderhorn n/a n/a closed
Purgatory n/a n/a closed
Silverton n/a n/a closed
Ski Cooper n/a n/a closed
Ski Granby n/a n/a closed
Snowmass n/a n/a closed
Steamboat n/a n/a closed
Sunlight n/a n/a closed
Telluride n/a n/a closed
Vail n/a n/a closed
WinterPark n/a n/a closed
Wolf Creek n/a n/a closed
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