Over the past two and a half years, I have eagerly watched the drama unfold between ski giant Vail Resorts and newcomer Alterra Mountain Company. The hottest battleground, of course, is taking place right here in Colorado, where both companies are headquartered and many of their prized mountains are located.
Unsurprisingly, Vail and Alterra have no compassionate thoughts to spare for the carnage that’s hitting single Denver skiers the hardest. It’s simply cruel to force us to split our souls between our favorite Colorado mountains on the Epic and Ikon passes—the places that have been our only consolation in a loveless world. I, for one, still haven’t decided on a ski pass.
Like many in the singles’ lift line, I’m still hoping to end up with a total shredder. But in the age of competing Epic and Ikon passes, I’m now facing new obstacles created by the world’s greatest ski consolidations. Namely, the Epic vs. Ikon battle has produced a few common characters among the men who head for the mountains each winter weekend. Here are the five types of guys I’m meeting (or missing!) in my quest to find a partner in skiing—and love.
The pass-splainer: Some male skiers take my Epic vs. Ikon dilemma as an invitation to launch into the ski industry lesson I never asked for. “You probably didn’t know this, but Vail used to own A Basin. The feds made Vail give it up because of, like, antitrust issues or something. It’s hard to explain in a way that you’d understand.”
The dual passholder: He asks me what pass I’m getting. I tell him I don’t know. Barely pausing for breath, he hits me with the “I went ahead and just bought both passes.” His pals from business school are coming out for a Breck weekend, but there was no way he was giving up tail-gating at A Bay. Plus, his parents are Inspirato members, so he can crash at their $6 million vacation rentals whenever he wants to ski Aspen (an Ikon Pass resort) or Telluride (an Epic Pass resort). It just made sense to buy both.
The conversationalist: There are simply too many pros and cons to list for both the Epic and Ikon passes. He is so animated as he praises the Stone Creek Chutes at Beaver Creek—but, ugh, it’s so nice to miss I-70 traffic going to Winter Park—that we hardly have time to discuss topics of deeper substance. For example, the new skis he bought last season. He doesn’t really care for the reverse camber on them, so he’s planning on upgrading to the Rossignols he tried when his buddy, who works for Vail, got him a pass to the 2019 Outdoor Retailer on-snow demo. A half hour later (if I’m lucky, maybe we won’t have finished our beers yet) he’ll ask me how I like my Nordica boots and whether I went to a boot fitter before buying them. After I answer, there’ll be a quick lull as we both take a sip. Oh, have I heard of [insert obscure ski brand from random ski town]? The owner started pressing skis in his garage three years ago. They’re siiiiiiiiiiick.
The uphiller: Yeah, he’s probably gonna sign up for his AIARE 1 this season (the three-day introduction course to avalanche safety). Ski passes are for Jerries.
The ones that are all getting away: What if he’s the man of my dreams, but he went Epic and I went Ikon? We’ll never have the chance to ski together! My flirty, perfectly timed, skidding stop that buries him in snow will never happen. Neither will our steamy gondola make out. He’ll never build that jump with the powder landing so I can finally do a backflip, after which—in my post-send revelry—I’ll accidentally let it slip that I love him. Do Rob Katz and Rusty Gregory have any idea of all the wedding plans they’re thwarting?
My prospects on the slopes may be dim, but I haven’t given up hope yet. Maybe I just needed another hobby? I’ve heard good things about the guys frequenting the Denver Curling Club.