Ski industry goes high-tech |

Ski industry goes high-tech

Sarah Mausolf
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily

VAIL, Colorado – Locals and visitors alike are getting more tech savvy than ever before, forcing the ski industry to adapt. With Vail Mountain set to open today, technology may play a bigger role than ever before.

Vail Resorts is rolling out its new EpicMix feature, which uses a radio frequency chip built into the ski passes to tracks vertical feet traveled and enables people to share information about their ski day on social networks.

It’s one of many things ski resorts are doing to keeping pace with Generation Y.

“They’re going to expect something different for their ski experience than a 40- or 50-year-old,” said Mike Slone, interactive director for Vail Resorts.

EpicMix is the resort’s response to the social media boom and the growing interest in smart phone applications that track personal performance data, Slone said.

While the program is geared toward the so-called Millennials, skiers in their 40s and up might be tempted to try it as well, he said.

“I think it will be a conversation piece they’ll be interested in,” he said.

Visitors to the terrain parks in Beaver Creek might see some new technology as well this winter. Rich Staats, an Edwards resident who created the Web site, said he plans to launch a trick tip feature geared toward terrain park riders. The idea is to attach stickers with “QR codes,” which are sort of like bar codes, to terrain features on Beaver Creek Mountain. People will be able to scan the stickers with their smart phones and pull up a video of a local pro doing a trick on that feature, Staats said.

“The idea is that not only are we giving you a trick tip, we’re doing it on a feature that’s right in front of you,” he said.

As opening day at Vail approaches, smart phones are still all the rage and many locals have found ways to include them in their skiing.

Hunter Schleper from Vail says he uses an iPhone app called Speed Tracker to see how fast he skied a particular slope.

On powder days, the 19-year-old racer also checks the PowerBar snow report to see how much powder Vail and neighboring resorts received.

When Holly Beavers ventures into the backcountry on her snowboard, she sometimes uses her iPhone to gauge the avalanche danger.

An app called SlopeMeter tells her how steep the terrain is – and that gives her a sense of whether it’s likely to slide.

“It’s quick and it’s easy, and it makes me feel safer,” the 29-year-old Avon resident said. “You can’t be safe enough in avalanche terrain.”

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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