The end is near!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Friday, December 20th will mark the end of the race and the 10 winners will be crowned their lifetime passes. There has been a lot of unknowns going in to this final day of the race, but here is what we know so far...

  • The race will start at 9am Friday when we receive an email detailing our "scavenger hunt" type tasks to complete.
  • The race will include the towns of Méribel, Les Allures, and Brides Les Bains (marked with stars on the map)
  • You are able to start at any of the 3 starting points, and complete the tasks in any order.
  • You can only travel by foot/ski/bus/gondola, etc -- no cars/planes/or helicopters (they really put that in there!)
  • There will be skiing involved, which limits that area to Méribel, since the other two towns are much lower in elevation and have zero snow.
  • As of now, the leaderboard will be up to show time submissions, but the winners will not be official until verified by Vail which will take about 3 days.
  • You still have to submit one video (min 15 seconds) and 2 photos. The time of upload will be your finish time. (Hope to have a good phone connection -- the phone providers must love all of us for our international plans!)
  • Right now, we're competing against an estimated 132 people for one (or two) of those lifetime passes. 

While we wouldn't call it a "race" thus far, it has been one heck of a trip. Vail has been fairly lenient on the rules so far and have been making changes to them along the way. They started with adjusting the rules the night before the Tahoe resorts were meant to open by changing the check-in requirements so 'Racers' could complete the resorts without having to actually ski them, since not a single one opened on time due to lack of snow or a wind hold. Had they stuck to the initial rules, people would have had to change flights/etc which may have discouraged some people from continuing the race. Instead, they wanted to give everyone the opportunity to experience the resorts, and probably not get off to too rough of a start.

Also, they did not plan the check-in points with early season conditions in mind, and numerous locations were closed or inaccessible due to lack of snow. Instead of insisting that those check-in points were met, which would of also involved changing travel plans, and possibly spreading the race out to include the entire season, they allowed you to submit an alternate photo from the resort instead.

They've also allowed people that have double uploaded to different resorts, submitted the wrong photo, or had any problems in general with their resort submission to re-do them or fix it for them. Based on the published rules, those folks should have been disqualified, but they've been allowed to keep going. For example, Vail stated that you must remove your goggles in the photos/videos. There are plenty of examples where folks didn't pay attention to this rule, and instead of a DQ, they've been told that moving forward, please take them off. The nuance may seem petty, but it's a race and rules are there for a reason.

While some of these changes have definitely been to our advantage, it has created such an even playing field that we now have 132 people that are going to literally be racing for only one morning when it should have been playing out over the entire trip. The youngest racer is 9 (along with several other teenagers traveling with parents) all the way up to retirees--with the bulk of the racers around 30-40 something. Come Friday, all 132 will be after the exact same check-ins, doing their best to ski/run/etc to get one of those passes. By allowing people to spread out to different starting points, Vail is trying to avoid a bottleneck situation that would more than likely involve quite a bit of pushing to get to the front, however, I'm guessing this still happens somewhere.

We've talked to quite a few of the other racers over the past few weeks, and especially this week here in France, and the general consensus is that we should all get a lifetime pass. This isn't because we're all some spoiled people that are sore losers, it's because of the precedence Vail has set for the race thus far, eliminating numerous obstacles and barriers racers faced along the way to ensure a 'fair' competition. As a result, the group consensus is that it would only be fair for all 132 of us that are finishing on Dec. 20th to get the same prize. Granted the reality of Vail handing out lifetime passes to all of us seems like a long shot.

However Friday morning plays out, we have definitely had one hell of an amazing trip skiing throughout Europe and cannot wait to plan our next trip out to Austria, which has by far been our favorite. We've met some amazing people that we have enjoyed numerous dinners, drinks, and ski days with while exploring these great mountains, and we will definitely keep in touch with them long after this race ends. We also have our free Epic pass for next year to look forward to if we don't happen to win. No matter how this plays out, we have had an awesome adventure. :)

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