Disclaimer: I’m skiing this week.
Skiing is an expensive sport. There’s the clothes, equipment hire, the ski pass, and the travel to and from the resort. And that’s before you see the prices on the restaurant menus.
Skiing is also quite a high-tech sport. The equipment and technology changes almost every year, with different types of ski, cleverer glasses and goggles. I’ve seen Russians wearing what looks like kevlar body armour, skis of all shapes, all sorts of clever kit.
But one area where the whole experience is failing to keep up is in data and mapping. There are two things that are just screaming out for a bit more thinking. If these exist, I’ve not seen them.
First – congestion maps. In every ski resort, there are big boards with a map of the area, showing lifts and runs that are open and closed. Would it be so hard to also show which runs or lifts have the most people on? Queuing at lifts is a pain. Why not show the congested parts of the resort, so that skiers as a group can regulate their movements? If you can do it for cars, you can do it for ski resorts.
Second – give skiers their own data. Every resort now issues ski passes that contains a chip to get through the gates and on to the lifts. For a small surcharge, why not give skiers the option to download which lifts they have been on in their holiday, and map them to show where they have skied?
This would be a fantastic addition to any holiday for competitive skiers. How many miles did you ski? How far did you get? You could share maps, create groups and league tables – the possibilities are vast. It’s such a missed opportunity.
The technology is in place, all it would take is just making the data available to the user. Each pass has an ID number, and each issuer has a record of who bought it – just make it available online. A ski pass costs anything from 30 to 70 euros per day – and a week pass is almost always in three figures. Just add on 15 euros for the data administration – or build it into the price. Everyone would love it.
The only argument I’ve heard against it is that anyone who cares can map their runs using GPS on their iPhone or similar. Except – who wants to incur mobile phone data roaming charges abroad? They can run into the thousands.
Give us our ski data! I know, I know. I’m sure there won’t be a big campaign for ski data transparency, but if there is, let’s say it started here.