App and down the slopes
THERE’S no business like snow business when it comes to technology. A flurry of apps and sites providing instant information on everything from ski conditions to equipment hire has put paid to the days of peering through a frosty car window on the way to the slopes to gauge whether there’s been any snow.
Technology has informed every aspect of the sport, from the advancement of slope grooming and snowmaking to the enhancement of boots, boards, skis and clothing. And ticketing systems have been revolutionised. Every Australian and New Zealand resort worth its road salt has its own website and smartphone app, giving skiers a wealth of information at their fingertips.
It is now possible to ascertain the number of lifts at a resort, their prices and status; total skiable hectares; current temperatures, recent snowfalls and forecasts. Many sites (and their smartphone versions) enable skiers to buy lift tickets, arrange lessons and hire equipment at the touch of a screen.
These include: perisher.com.au; thredbo.com.au; mthotham.com. au; fallscreek.com.au; nzski.com; and onepassnz.com.
Wider-ranging sites (all with smartphone versions) offer an overview of resorts across Austra- lia, New Zealand, Japan, the US, Canada and sometimes Europe; skiers can compare conditions and receive snowfall alerts. The best include: mountainwatch.com, ski.com.au, skiing.about.com and onthesnow.com.
One of the best new developments is the on-slope electronic lift gate system, with its creditcard- sized passes. The hi- tech scheme lets skiers use their computers and smartphones to track vertical metres skied each day, ensuring robust fireside comparisons by night.
Most cards can be preloaded online with lift purchases and credit, transforming them into a snowside Eftpos that can be used at restaurants and shops, like a one-card ski wallet.
In its first season of operation last year, Perisher’s excellent Myride Dashboard system recorded an impressive resort total of one billion vertical metres skied. And it has set the scene for future challenges — 65-year-old Norm O’Neil, who recorded last year’s highest individual tally, has set a personal goal of 1,000,000m this season. He’s well on his way with a tally so far of almost 560,000m. See perisher.com.au/ dashboard2012/leaderboard for his latest results.