Page 54

54

GEAR

Feeling the buzz about skiing As gadgets become more popular, ski apps and wearable tech are adapting to the mountains Words by Alf Alderson It can be frustrating if you spend more time faffing around with gizmos than enjoying what the mountain has to offer. Recent research by Columbus Direct revealed that British skiers and snowboarders are now taking gadgets worth £3 billion on their winter holidays every year. This season, technology will enhance your mountain experience by fitting into the kit you’ve already got, meaning

it should seamlessly add to your trip, rather than distract you from it. It can offer tips on your skiing, point out areas to explore or lead you to the closest bar for après. Resorts are getting in on the act by offering apps which are free to download, like the Yuge app reviewed here for Paradiski. Wearable technology is also increasingly popular — a trend we’ve seen recently with the rise in fitness watches. Though Google Glass didn’t quite catch on, camera sunglasses SunnyCam Activ could change the way après is recorded — if only an hour at a time. Gadgets like the Carv Ski Wearable will improve technique, by tracking ski motions and providing analysis.

Read more gear reviews as they are posted online at skiclub.co.uk/news

Alf Alderson is an award-winning adventure travel writer who divides his time between the Alps and Pembrokeshire. He is co-author of the Rough Guide to the Rocky Mountains and other ski guides. He is an experienced gear tester for the ski press.

Free

Fortnightly £2.99 Yearly £25.99

Daily €4.99 Weekly €26.99 Annual €49.99

Yuge Paradiski Ski App

Fatmap App

Skadi Ski App

Yuge is just one of many free apps being offered by resorts — in this case, it’s the Les Arcs/La Plagne Paradiski area. The app can be personalised to provide information specific to skiing ability and resort. My favourite part is the real time information on lift queues, as well as which pistes and lifts are open which should mean more time can be spent on the slopes. There are snow reports and weather forecasts, plus a stack of other features including trail maps and suggestions for routes. An ‘SOS’ button can be used in an emergency and tells rescue services of your exact location. Yuge will also track your riding activity and rank it against other users. All this info for free is great, though be aware — roaming charges may be costly.

Fatmap is aimed mainly at freeriders and covers most of the world’s major ski areas ­— though it is sparse in Canada, with only Whistler included. Fatmap offers, amongst other things, clear 3-D maps, information on slope gradient, aspect, altitude and other crucial pieces of terrain information, as well as location sharing so you and your group can stay in touch, route maps of the best off-piste lines and the facility to record your routes. The off-piste information is very impressive and remarkably detailed. There are also descriptions, locations and guides to every piste in your resort of choice, along with information on stuff like restaurants, bars, transport and first aid facilities, so piste skiers will also find it very useful.

Skadi is free to download and able to create a personalised itinerary of your ski resort. You input your level of ability and skiing preferences and it acts as a personalised guide, providing both visual and audio guidance around the resort. It saves a lot of faffing around with piste maps, as you just plug your headphones in and follow audio prompts. It’s a great option if you like to cruise around and explore without constant stops to check where you are. The app can even create a personal full-day ‘ski safari’, and it will take you to a point such as a restaurant or lift by tapping said location on the map. However, at present it only covers a limited number of resorts, most of them being in Austria. Though it costs to use Skadi, it doesn’t incur roaming charges.

Free, heaps of useful features for any visitor Can incur roaming charges

Great tool for off-piste skiers in particular Can’t replace a qualified ski guide

No roaming charges You have to pay to use it

Ski+board April 17