Kirkwood Mountain Resort has installed the company’s first solar-powered radio frequency (RF) reader to enhance the guest’s experience with EpicMix, Vail Resorts’ proprietary online and mobile application that rewards users for challenges completed, lifts ridden, and days and vertical feet skied. The reader takes advantage of Kirkwood’s legendary hike-to, inbounds terrain, and is located in the Covered Wagon area of the resort, along the southeastern-most boundary on the backside.
“We have so much inbounds terrain here that is truly special, I think this remote reader is the perfect way to bring EpicMix to life at Kirkwood,” said Casey Blann, Kirkwood’s vice president and general manager. “Our visitors are some of the best skiers and riders around and we wanted a special way to recognize them for doing extraordinary things.”
There are two custom pins explorers can unlock at the Covered Wagon reader. The first is called “Pushing Boundaries” and awards the guest 200 points for reaching the reader for the first time. The second is worth 250 points and is called “CW10.” It is awarded for visiting the reader 10 times in one season. In addition to being remote, this reader is also unique in its user experience.
Unlike most EpicMix readers, which don’t require the user to do anything special to record data, guests must intentionally approach the reader and come within five feet in order to be read.
This is Kirkwood’s first full season as part of the Vail Resorts family, and thus the first season offering EpicMix technology to its guests. Which means that there will now be cold, hard stats to validate the wild claims of vertical feet skied at Kirkwood. A revolutionary technological advancement for the ski industry, EpicMix automatically captures and uploads all mountain activity to a dashboard.
Using RF scanners at the base of every lift and RF technology built into every Vail Resorts season pass, Epic Day Card and PEAKS card, skiers and riders can follow their days on the mountain, track vertical feet, see where they rode, earn EpicMix pins for achievements and collect points.
The Covered Wagon reader is solar-powered and can withstand 125 mph winds and temperatures of minus-28 degrees. It required special USDA Forest Service approvals and is placed in the snow so there was no trenching, digging or blasting done.
“This is not only a great story for a ski area, but a great technology story in general,” said Vail Resorts chief information officer, Robert Urwiler. “There aren’t many RFID applications in remote, rugged areas, with no network and no power. This application was built for us. You can’t find it in a catalog. It’s another great example of Vail Resorts re-imagining the guest experience through the use of technology.”