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Vail Resorts unveils online, mobile application

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CATHERINE TSAI | August 30, 2010 07:17 PM EST | AP

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BROOMFIELD, Colo. — This season, visitors to Vail Resorts ski areas can track how many days and runs they've done, using technology embedded on lift tickets and passes.

Radio-frequency scanners on all 89 lifts at Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, Keystone and Vail resorts in Colorado and at Heavenly in California will communicate with chips embedded on passes and tickets to automatically track guests' runs.

Riders can check their progress online or on the mobile EpicMix application, for free. Skiers and snowboarders who opt in would have data shared automatically on their Facebook and Twitter updates, without them doing anything. EpicMix also would let customers know when their Facebook friends are skiing.

That raises privacy questions, but Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz says no one sees riders' data unless customers opt in, and the company doesn't plan to share the data with third parties. Riders also can disable the radio-frequency chip.

If EpicMix catches on, Broomfield, Colo.-based Vail Resorts could potentially reach millions of Facebook friends and Twitter followers of riders whose visits to its mountains will be posted online, without those avid riders updating their statuses on their own. One key market it could reach: non-skiers and snowboarders.

Katz, who tweets regularly, said digital media has been a "huge positive" for the ski business in reaching customers and non-customers alike through location-based media but also sites like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.

He touts EpicMix as groundbreaking. "This is taking the real experience of skiing and action sports and marrying it with social media in a way that doesn't require anybody to do anything new. People don't have to take out their phones from their pockets or wear a new gadget," Katz said.

The company didn't reveal costs for launching EpicMix.

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Online:

http://www.epicmix.com