The Epic Race Heats Up in the Frozen Midwest

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St. Paul Family Begins Epic Adventure

Vail Resorts has offered perhaps the most exciting season pass deal of the 2013/2014 Ski Season in The Epic Pass: “Unlimited access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Canyons, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, Arapahoe Basin, and Eldora – No Blackout Dates. Now Includes 5 days at each Verbier, Switzerland; Arlberg, Austria (St. Anton, St. Cristoph, Stuben, Züers, and Lech); and now Les 3 Vallées, France (Courchevel, La Tania, Méribel, Brides-les-Bains, Les Menuires, Saint Martin de Belleville, Val Thorens et Orelle, France).” — 

To promote this they have created the Epic Race, a ski/snowboard competition to visit all 26 Vail Resorts mountains in 4 different countries. The Grand Prize is a lifetime Epic Pass to the first ten to complete the journey.

The Browns, a skiing version of the Von Trapps and residents of St. Paul, have decided to give this challenge the old college try. In fact, skiing for the Browns is rooted in a college romance bordering on obsession, steeped in a love of the outdoors, and covered in Tele turns. The House’s very own PaddyO Man of Action, made famous by his inspiring and Pulitzer Prize worthy Lindsey Vonn Interview, recently had the chance to speak with the Brown Famski.

The Epic Brown Family Sits Down with PaddyO

PaddyO– For the record please state your name, age, location of birth, and current home.

Famski– Susie, 45, born in MN, grew up in St. Croix Beach, went to Stillwater HS, go Ponies!

Tim, 44, born in MN, grew up in Roseville.

Phoebe, 12, born in Vermont. I have been growing up in St. Paul though we spend a ton of time in the St. Croix Valley.

PaddyO– Please give a brief description of each of your skiing lives. Again, this is on the record.

Famski– Susie, I learned to ski at Afton. I worked there as a ski instructor in high school. After college I taught alpine and tele skiing and volunteered for the adaptive ski program at Mt. Hood Meadows (OR). I raced in high school and college, learned to telemark in 1990, chased a guy on tele skis, guess who, and have not looked back. My stoke is going fast, doing big GS tele turns on nice groomers. I like that skiing gets me off my backside and out in the fresh air and sunshine for some good living.

Tim, I learned to ski at Birch Park and raced in high school at Buck Hill. I started telemarking in Oregon in 1989 and never looked back except to see who that lady was following me (At this point in the interview Tim does a non-existent bangs hair flip and gazes into Susie’s eyes). I have been known to occasionally drag a knuckle, although my last snowboard flew off the top of my truck somewhere in the middle of North Dakota in 1992. My stoke is big powder in the backcountry. For me, skiing means freedom!

Phoebe, I learned to ski on the rope tow at Como Park where you can hear the lions roar from the zoo while you’re flying down the hill. I took early lessons at Hyland Hills and Afton and have been a racer on the Afton D-Team for the last 2 seasons. I have ridden the world’s highest gondola at Whistler Blackcomb and have earned my mountain legs in Canada, Montana and Colorado. My stoke is shifting into my racing stance. Skiing means going FAST and having fun!

PaddyO– How long have you been a part of the Afton Ski community?

Famski– Susie, since I was a wee skier in the 1970s, Tim and Phoebe sometime after that.

PaddyO– How did you find out about the Epic Race?

Famski– Tim, We bought Epic Passes and guess what, they sent us an email about the Epic Race! We had already booked our trip to Europe over Phoebe’s 6th grade winter break and realized that the hard part was done so we might as well fill in the rest of the resorts and see if we can win!

PaddyO– What are your plans?

Tim, Well we…

Phoebe, I’ll handle this Dad! We officially started at Afton—where Epic begins—on November 23, although we had a warm-up trip to CO the weekend before. We are going back to CO on Thanksgiving. We’re staying in town for the first day of my race practice on 12/7, then heading to Michigan to enjoy another Midwestern ski experience. Another quick trip to CO will be followed by 17 days on the road getting the rest of the resorts under our belt—France, Austria, Switzerland, Utah, California. We love to travel and we love to ski, this is the perfect combo! (Mother and Father nod heads with approval, uptop 80s Hi5 one-another)

PaddyO– Wow, how informative. What do you hope to gain from participating , besides defeating other participants and gaining a lifetime pass?

Famski– Susie, Good clean family fun and an epic experience of a lifetime!

PaddyO– That was entirely too PC. What are your chances?

Famski– Tim, We’re competitive, we’ll finish very early in January, but we know that there are 300 people competing and guessing several, probably more than 10, will finish in December, especially those that don’t have jobs and 6th grade to keep up. But, even if we don’t win skiing for life, our chances are 100% to win a free Epic Pass for 2014-2015 which they have offered to all competitors who complete the mission.

PaddyO– I was looking for more of a “Beyond Thunderdome” answer but I’ll let it go. Is it difficult skiing with other people who cannot come close to your athletic ability as well as your good looks? I know it is for me.

Famski– Susie, I can handle it, they are usually better at beer drinking than I am. As for looks, I have a really nicely coordinated jacket and helmet set, very classy, nobody can beat that.

Phoebe, no, it’s fun (both questions).

Tim, when you’re so fast you can’t see who’s behind you. (Pops one of the collars of the three IZOD polos he is wearing and again flips his non-existent bangs…man, I like this guy.)

PaddyO– Tim, when was the first time you and the missus went skiing together? Did you know it was true love at that moment? Susie, same question. Phoebe, is it strange hearing your parents talk about this?

Famski– Tim, we were in college and I hitched rides with the alpine ski team, she might have thought I was following her but she has been following me ever since.

Susi, I was on the alpine race team in college and a hot younger guy took up telemarking and, being very competitive and having a really big crush, I went out and bought all of the equipment and convinced myself I could do it with him.

Phoebe, no, I’ve had 12 years to get used to it.

PaddyO– Phoebe, how has it been at school with news of your participation in the Epic Race? Is it difficult signing autographs and ducking paparazzi while getting to Homeroom? Will you be using this as a platform to make a Student Council Presidential Run, which in turn is only a ploy for a coo on the principal?

Famski– Phoebe, Hey, I’m trying to keep this low key so I don’t get in trouble or counted as a truant, could you please not let the cat out of the bag?

PaddyO– Ok, ok ease up Maverick. Your secrets safe with me. Tim and Susie, how on God’s green earth are you financing this? Are you printing $100 bills in your basement? Selling plasma? What’s the skinny?

Famski– Susie—Hmm, printing money is a good idea, we hadn’t thought of that one yet. If I lose my job because of this silly race, maybe we’ll start that as a cottage industry. Meantime, I work hard and we play hard and we fund the things we care about—skiing and travel among them. We couldn’t care less about a big house, fancy cars, big screen TVs. It’s all about living the lifestyle and having fun!

Phoebe, I suspect they have been making counterfeit money for a while!

PaddyO– Hahaha, classy moves. Anything else to add?

Famski– (In perfect three part harmony)


Side braid for school, French braid for skiing.


Kona (our dog) hates ski season.

Phoebe—Pepsi, Tim—beer, Susie–wine


We will continue to follow the Brown Famski as they trudge the the road to victory. Stay tuned!


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