Twitter feeds occasionally provide lines more entertaining than Adam Sandler during his substance abuse years. Sitting down at my desk and starting the routine bottomless scroll though useless content, nothing has ever stood out quite like the sentence “Vail Resorts agrees to buy Mt. Brighton.” After double-checking that The Onion didn’t post it, excitement took over.
Just 43 miles from downtown Detroit, Mount Brighton stands 250 vertical feet, most of which is excess road debris from the construction of two nearby highways. Made famous by stars T.J. Burke and Dexter Rutecki from the ski classic Aspen Extreme, Mount Brighton has been turning chairs in southeast Michigan since 1960. By purchasing the ski area, Vail Resorts hit a jackpot.
Michigan skiing revolves around “Up North” heavyweights Boyne Mountain, Nubs Nub, Boyne Highlands, and a few others, which are all four plus hours north of the metro Detroit area. Prices to ski and stay at these areas are very similar to prices out west. Creating a visible connection to Colorado and California through Mt. Brighton allows Vail Resorts to get patrons’ minds heading west instead of north. More people will be able to enjoy Vail’s brand of skiing, while creating more revenue and continuing to grow the sport.
The Vail brand also represents star power. Over the past ten years, Lindsey Vonn and Epic Mix have been extremely influential in shaping ski culture. Vail takes full advantage of both of these assets with its new Epic Mix Racing program.
In an effort to expose racing to casual skiers, Vail Resorts cloned Lindsey Vonn and imported her clones to six different ski areas around the country. Mad Men’s Don Draper once said, “There is no better way to attract attention to a sport than by making a beautiful, successful, world-class athlete your spokesperson.” If racing against arguably the best U.S. skier doesn’t do it for you, then there isn’t much hope to get you out on a course.
To kick off the first season of “Chasing Lindsey,” Epic Pass holders ski against her by scanning their pass at the top of the course. All courses are set on blue runs at different ski areas and mirror a course Vonn ran herself to set the pace. Considering most of her competition has multiple years of training and corporate sponsors, paying $10 to race against her is quite a deal. Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone, Northstar, Beaver Creek, and Heavenly were all issued Vonn clones for you to compete against.
If you compete ten times and race fast enough, you earn the opportunity to meet Vonn at Beaver Creek on March 30th. Vonn will host the final race of the season at the famous Birds of Prey downhill course. The top ten racers in each age group will get course advice from Vonn and will compete for the top spot in their age group. In addition, you likely will get a new Facebook profile picture (that’s what really matters, right?). Lucky for me, I cut my racing teeth at Mount Brighton with four years of high school varsity ski team for this moment.
So as the snow keeps falling, here is another reason to get out and enjoy winter. Also, rumor has it that Vonn is single . . . .
Happy Holidays from Out of Bounds.
Connor Grant is the sports and outdoor columnist at 303 Magazine. He enjoys Mad Men, polarized Ray Bans, big mountain skiing, a good Old Fashioned, anything outside, and reading. When he isn’t rubber necking gear at REI, you can find him frequenting shows at Red Rocks, uncovering new electronic music, or discovering new tapas bars around town. Let go or be dragged. Try and keep up by following him on Twitter.