App and down the slopes

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Australia And Nz Ski Holidays - MERRY KIRK­WOOD

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.

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