Last season I put together a list of useful apps for the slopes and so this season, to avoid any accusations of trying something new, I thought I’d do the same.
Liftopia is an app-view on the Liftopia website and is primarily a deal-getter – it offers deals on ski passes in resorts across the globe as well as resort information, maps, photos and snow conditions. The usual stuff – It seems to be very US-centric and so far I’ve not managed to find one deal anywhere in France (which is the country surrounding me as I write this); the deals are either sold out or otherwise unavailable. I must say the resort information is dubious as well: in Les Arcs, for example, the resort is shown as open, but with 0 of 52 lifts operating, and this is the same for many, if not all, European resorts.
Summary: It may be worth it in the US, but it’s just about useless in Europe. Have you had any luck with it?
Cost: Free. Data connection required.
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆ (I suspect this’d score higher in the US).
This is a great app for getting detailed information on your current and favourite resorts. You add your resorts to your favourites list (this requires data) and then you can quickly see snow conditions, webcams, lift and piste info, as well as local up-to-date reviews and pictures published by the community – perfect during the run-up to a trip to see what you’ve got to look forward to. The app is very nicely designed with clear, concise information.
Summary: A good resource. Perfect for independent skiers who may not otherwise have access to resort information.
Cost: Free (with ads). Data connection required.
The review from last year stands – still the recommended ski tracker, but be aware, it’s gone up in price by 10p, so it’s now an eye-watering 79p to buy.
I couldn’t make this one do anything at all. Nothing. Not a thing. Not on GPS. Not on data. This app has expired and gone to meet its maker. A little research shows it seems to be better when used in US resorts, but that’s little help to me skiing in La Rosière, even though it allows me to download that map.
Summary: The only app in this round-up that I paid for turns out to be the most pointless.
Cost: £3.99. Data connection required.
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ (Tell me if I was doing something wrong and I’ll rate again…).
Crystal Ski Explorer
Crystal released their Ski Explorer late last year and it’s a great looking app – very clear and full of information for Crystal skiers and non-Crystallites as well. The app covers everything you’d expect: resort details, snow conditions, maps for many resorts, but not all, as well as some very valuable local tips and information. In addition to that, it’s got friend tracking to show where your buddies are, as well as ski tracking to record where you’ve been. Unlike Ski Tracks, however, it only gives an average speed rather than a top speed, and while MadDogSki doesn’t condone racing each other one little bit, it’d be nice to have that option.
Summary: The best-looking app in this round-up and full of useful information.
Cost: Free. Data connection required.
Although no use to us European skiers, if you’re heading to the US, this looks like an interesting take on the usual resort info application. It’s an augmented reality (AR) app which uses your phone’s camera to show what’s around you and overlays icons to show you points of interest. As you move the camera, the icons move with it. Do get in touch and tell us what you think if you use it over in that there America.
Rating: I need a trip to the US to rate this…
Find My Friends
Away from the resort info and tracking apps, we move to a more social app: how to find your friends on the slopes. Find Friends is an Apple app where you invite your (Apple) friends to connect, and then you can track their movements. It works well, as you’d expect, but strangely it requires data (rather than just GPS), which is probably something most users won’t want to do while abroad. Oh, and don’t forget to turn it off when you get back home…
Summary: Works well, but requires data.
Touch Ski 3D
This is a game. It is rubbish. Do not think about downloading it. I don’t know how it got to be part of this round-up. I’m sorry.
Crystal Calorie Counter
Surely you’ll be getting fitter after all that skiing? I mean, it’s exhausting, right? Well head over to the Ski Buzz website, fill in your activities for the day and it’ll tell you what you can put back in your body to rebalance. It won’t be as much as you think, I promise… click here for the calculator.
Rating: ★★★☆☆ (‘cuz it’s fun).
One to watch this year is Fatmap. I saw a demo of it at the London Ski and Snowboard show in November and it’s certainly impressive. They use their own 3D mapping technology to show the pistes against the mountain terrain while also giving expert off-pisters routes down the mountain. It only launched at the start of February (currently covering Chamonix, Verbier and Zermatt), so I’ve yet to try it out on the slopes. As always, if anyone has given it a go, please let us know what you think.
Cost: Free for 48 hours, then subscription options.
Rating: Haven’t had a chance to use it yet.
Chair lifts are a bore, aren’t they? So to pass the time you’ll be checking out these apps on your phone and sending the obligatory chair lift selfies back to your colleagues in the office. If that sounds like you, you need a MyBunjee. It’s an idiot-proof clip for your phone to stop it tumbling out of your gloved hands never to be seen again, and at the same time saving a lot of embarrassment. They come in a variety of colours and styles and start at around a fiver – well worth it.
As you’ve read, almost all these apps need a data connection to function, but don’t let this put you off. Roaming charges have dropped significantly over the past few years, so it’s always worth looking for a deal, and your current network may be able to give you an ‘add-on’ for the time you’re away. The offers and tariffs change all the time, but Three, for example, offer free (yes, free) roaming in many European countries on certain contracts, and O2 charge a very reasonable one-off daily fee. Look around, it’s not as bad as you think.