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Gadgets and Gizmos: Recording Your Day on the Slopes

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Watches, Apps and Cams Provide the Proof 

By Dave Potter

Back in the bad old days when I started skiing, your friends had to rely on your word as to what and how you skied that day. Of course, with no way to check the veracity of your story, you could “enhance” the tales of your day on the slopes. You could tell your friends that you expertly carved The Wall 20 times that day, and how you knocked off 50 runs total. Of course, they doubted you. But with no way to check, they couldn’t call you on it.

But those days are over. Now there are many ways to record your day. For years, I’ve been wearing an altimeter watch, a watch that monitors changes in air pressure and translates that data into altitude. By doing so, it keeps track of the vertical feet skied per run and your weekly, monthly or yearly totals.

The brand I wear is no longer available, but a couple of local Ellicottville shops sell the Suunto Vector ® ($200) that provides the same function with more features. Along with the barometer functions, it has a digital compass, timers and, oh yeah, it also tells time. The one thing I really like about the Suunto is its large and easy-to-read face. A watch like this takes the guesswork out of how many runs you’ve skied.  Now you can say with certainty, “I skied 20 runs today with 11,000 feet of vertical.”

A more high-tech way to record your ski day is to download an app to your smart phone. One of the more popular apps is Ski Tracks®. It’s available from iTunes® and Google Play® for 99 cents. Ski Tracks will do what an altimeter watch does and more. It will record altitude, vertical skied, distance skied, degree of slope and much more. It will track your runs and overlay them on a satellite photo of the ski area. It’s important to note that you don’t need a cellular connection for the app to work. In other words, it doesn’t use any of your data to record your day. It works by using your phone’s GPS antenna.

My pal “The Commander” uses this app and uses the share feature on it to show everyone on Facebook what he skied that day. He simply starts the app at the beginning of the day, slips his phone in his pocket and heads for the hill. You can still send and receive texts and phone calls while the app is running.

Go to app stores to get a complete list of all the features of this powerful app. By the way, this app is not available for Windows phones. For Window phone users, of which I’m one, the best app I’ve found is Winter Ski and Ride. It has similar features and is free.

Ok, now you can accurately record you day. But don’t you want your friends to see it? It’s all about bragging rights.

In which case, GoPro® is your answer. GoPros are compact rugged cameras, packed with features that can record your day in high definition videos. If you’ve skied at all in the past couple of years, you’ve seen GoPros mounted on helmets all over the hill. GoPros range in price from $130 to $500. As you go up in price, you go up in features.

The higher priced cameras can connect wirelessly to the GoPro app on your phone. With this feature, you can share with your friends on social media as you ride up the lift. The GoPro has too many features to delve into here, but your friends at Mud, Sweat N’ Gears would be more than happy to answer your questions.

Even though the good news is that you can now accurately record your day to dazzle your friends, the bad news is that you can no longer “enhance” your experience. If you tell them that you ripped The Wall, they will demand your GoPro proof. And then you will have to show them the video evidence of your yard sale that entertained everyone on The Wall chair that day.

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