W hether you spend Thanksgiving on the slopes or on the sofa watching (ignoring?) football and dreaming of the slopes and drooling over ski and snowboard videos with your smartphone in hand, it’s the time of year to review your ski app situation.
For Colorado skiers and snowboarders, it’s possible that the snow-reporting app you’ll want this season isn’t available — yet. Joel Gratz, the Boulder-based meteorologist behind what was the Colorado Powder Forecast and is now OpenSnow.com, expects to have an app out in mid-December (for iPhone — the Android app should be available around the first of the year).
One of the problems with the current snow-reporting apps out there now, Gratz says, is that “they’re basically all getting their info from the same aggregators.”
“Most snow reports, they choose from two aggregator resources and pick one,” he said.
Gratz said the OpenSnow app is written to snag the best, most-current info, not just info from one aggregator. Plus, though it will have weather and snow information for places beyond our state borders as well as customized forecasts Gratz has always done for Colorado skiers.
“For Colorado, we’re giving it our own T.L.C., giving it our own handmade forecast,” Gratz said.
Beyond weather and snow, there are apps for tracking stats on the mountain, like speed and vertical distance covered in a run or a day, or even time spent on the lift.
EpicMix, the signature stats-tracker at Vail Resorts, is based not on your phone, but your ski pass. The pass itself is radio-frequency enabled. Vail’s resorts have scanners at the bottom of every lift to track your vert on the mountain with every run.
Beyond Vail’s mountains, though, stats seekers usually pick up a ski app to track vert, speed and more.
Taylor Horowitz, Colorado brand manager for AlpineReplay, said that traditionally, a problem with the mountain-stats apps is that they use your phone’s GPS to continually track where you are on the mountain, which drains your battery.
So the creators of AlpineReplay, which launched this fall for both iPhone and Android, tested this thoroughly, Horowitz said.
“We’ve had positive results from people using the app all day,” he said. “That’s a major concern we get from a lot of people, so it’s something we looked at very carefully.”
AlpineReplay also has a social component that lets you turn a day on the slopes into a competition, even if you’re at different resorts.
“I can sign on and challenge you to any of the parameters we measure,” Horowitz said. “Say we want to do top speed on a day. I can be at Whistler, and you can be at Eldora… and the next time one of us uploads speed, the highest wins the challenge.”
In the meantime, you might want to check out a few other apps this ski season:
Ski Tracks: Ski Tracks ($.99) uses your iPhone’s GPS to track you up and down mountains without cell phone service. It claims minimal use of your battery, and just in case, it monitors your phone’s battery life. Lite version available for free.
Ski & Snow Report: This app provides quick weather and conditions info on areas you list as favorites. It also lets you check reports from fellow users. Free.
EpixMix app: Available for Android and iPhone, the EpicMix app lets you share photos on the spot and check maps and lift statuses while you’re on one of Vail Resorts’ mountains. Free.
REI Snow app: Like the Ski & Snow Report, REI’s app reports on conditions at your favorite mountains and offers peeks at resort webcams. Free.