Course is clear. Racers ready in 3, 2, 1 ...
The little girls bent at the starting gates with looks of determination on their faces. They may be in elementary school, but today they are racing against arguably the greatest American skier in the world - Lindsey Vonn.
Heavenly Mountain Resort unveiled its new EpicMix Racing course this week, and skiers and boarders of all ages are finding out how they stack up against a pro. Vail resorts launched Epic Mix Racing at Heavenly, Northstar, Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado, bringing the pro to the public. Uniform courses are set up at all six resorts, and Vonn provides the golden standard to beat.
The course is intermediate friendly and allows riders to race side-by-side. In fact, racing friends and family seemed to be just as popular as racing the pro this week. Ski school kids were all too happy to swing by the race course during lessons Thursday and see which friend was fastest.
The Heavenly EpicMix Race course is accessible from the top of Canyon Express and the finish area is near the top of Powderbowl Express. It costs $8 for the first race and $4 for each race thereafter. Tickets can be purchased at the start gate.
Here's how it works. Vonn, along with race pros from each resort, set their course times on Dec. 15. Just to give some perspective, the race pro pacesetters turned in times anywhere from 8 to 30 percent behind Vonn.
As the season progresses, EpicMix Racing will assign each racer a "percentage behind Lindsey" score based on age, gender and discipline for each race. Digital medals are awarded based on a racer's "percentage behind Lindsey."
Top racers from across the six resorts will then be invited to a grand finale event on March 30, hosted by Vonn on the world-famous Birds of Prey World Cup Course at Beaver Creek, Colo.
Those who don't make the grand finale can still find race times, digital medals, overall leaderboards and leaderboards with just family and friends posted on the EpicMix website and mobile application. Racers can also find tips from Vonn on how to have an effective start and finish, technique, skiing an early line, running gates, recreational racing, body positioning and equipment care on epicmix.com.
EpicMix Racing will likely be brought to Kirkwood next season.