Steep shots: Teching out the slopes

Ski writer Emily Palm highlights some useful smart phone ski apps.

Taking some smart phone ski apps on a test run

By Emily Palm

Last week I hopped on the fancy phone bandwagon by graduating from the classic flip style to a smart Droid. Along with being able to check e-mail and work on Google documents on the lift (the ultimate cubicle), the navigational features were alluring from the get-go. What I didn’t expect was the abundance of apps surrounding the wide world of skiing.

I’ve found some that I think are especially cool and useful.

Ski Report — Mittens-down my favorite day-to-day ski app. Instantly see a list of base depth and 24-hour snowfall from your chosen locations. Click on a resort to find more info, including snowfall of past four days, current weather, and up-to-date snow cams. All for price of free.

iTrailMap — I ended choosing this free trail map resource over the others because it’s very user friendly. It also has conditions, snow reports and cams. My only gripe is with the ads, but I guess they need to pay for it somehow. I also liked the app Almeesoft, as their ad-free maps are easier to read (it’s not quite as user-friendly though, and, at times, it shut down randomly). Ski TrailMaps impressed me the least with its combination of ads and low-clarity maps.

My Tracks — I haven’t hit the slopes with this app yet, but it could bump up to be my favorite if it follows through with its promise of tracking time, speed, distance, and elevation during my day. Once recorded, you can share your tracks, upload them to Google Spreadsheets and visualize them on Google My Maps for your Monday office-cooler bragging.

Freestyle — Got a yen for some glade skiing but stuck at the office or in lowlands? This free low-tech game is at least a more interactive alternative to obsessively checking the resorts’ Web cams and snow conditions.

SIA Snow Show 2011 — For those interested in learning which ski vendors will be showing their goods at the show (in Denver Jan. 27-30) put on by Snowsports Industries America. This handy app supplies a calendar, list of exhibitors (and map of where their booth is), and more.

One of the differences between the iPhone and the Droid is that iPhone apps go through a vetting process, while anyone with programming skills can make a Droid app. This just means it’s a good idea to read some reviews to figure out which applications to download on a Droid phone.

Trickier than finding the right apps, it seems, is being present with other humans whilst out in the world. All too often the pull of the low-attention-span-necessitating smart phones takes people away from personal interactions, to  their sport scores and Facebook feeds. I promise not to become that person (says the girl who has had her phone one week).

But I digress.

So far my only complaint about the phone is a creepy eye of Sauron that pops up during the opening sequence when you turn it on, reminding me that, with all the convenience of being able to track your vertical gain for the day, comes the tacit submission to Big Brother’s watchful gaze. But that’s a whole other conversation …

Telemark skier and freelance writer Emily A. Palm Mulica lives in Golden, Colo. Check out her Web site at www.EmilyPalm.com & follow Twitter.com/SteepShots and Facebook.com/SteepShots. Share with her your favorite joke at emily@emilypalm.com.

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