Archive for April, 2010

My Top Five Android Apps for Skiers and Snowboarders

Yep, I don’t have an iPhone, but as a happy Motorola Droid user, I thought I’d list what I found to be my top five Android Applications for skiers and snowboarders from the 2009-10 winter season:

  1. Google’s My Tracks – this application totally kicks butt for tracking your turns around your favorite mountain and then sharing them with your friends with speed, vertical and more. See my post on My Tracks for more about this great tool.
  2. Qik – being able to stream live HD video from the slopes is the best way yet that I’ve seen yet of being able to make all of your friends appropriately jealous on that epic powder day!
  3. How Steep – a simple, but cool, app that uses the Droids sensors to show how steep of a slope you’re on. Just might come in useful for those duck out the backcountry gates without the proper knowledge as it starts to show “vulnerable” at just 17 degrees (not a bad thing IMO).
  4. Seesmic for Android – I am a pretty serious Twitter user, getting close to 5,000 tweets. And, I love the ease that Seesmic offers for tweeting from the slopes. It’s easy and I definitely posted a ton of tweets from the slopes this season.
  5. Foursquare – as the most popular of the current geo-location driven social networks, this is another cool way to show your social ‘badge’ gathering dominance on the slopes.

Let me know if you have any other favorite Android skiing and riding apps in the comments!

Photo credit:

Paying a checked baggage fee for ski gear.

Airline baggage fees and the ski industry

Paying a checked=This post languished as a short draft through the whole winter. Then I took a trip to Colorado about two weeks ago on Delta, brought my own ski equipment with and realized that if I hadn’t been able to pack lightly (3 day spring trip), that I would have had to check an additional bag, putting my checked bag fee up from a not so awful $50 to $120 extra (round-trip), almost as much as the Salt Lake City to Denver fare itself! I ski with an NTN telemark setup, which isn’t available for rent in many locations, so if I want to ski on gear I’m used to, I have to bring mine with. With that, here’s what I had written back in December:

There’s an interesting article regarding the airlines’ baggage fees and their effect on ski retailers in the Dec. 1, 2008 issue of Newsweek magazine. While it was neat to see my colleague quoted in the article (Krista), what really struck me about the article was the fact that it just concentrated on the bring the skis/rent the skis question and didn’t even touch on the fact that some people might decide to not even take a ski or snowboard trip this winter season.

Based upon early numbers from the 2009-2010 season, people took more ski vacations this year than last year. But, as airlines continue to add fees upon fees, will this become an obstacle to further increasing destination ski visitors in 2010-2011? I know I would think twice about booking a ski vacation on any airline except for Southwest thanks to their being the only airline to still include two checked bags in every fare!

Photo credit:

Ning Logo

Social Networks for Ski Resorts – Ning

Ning LogoThere are a plethora of quality choices that allow a brand or resort to create their own social network and until this past weekend, I’ve considered Ning to be one of the best of these. In particular, I’ve been impressed by the community that Steamboat Resort has built there that they call My Steamboat (or perhaps ‘Your Vacation Planning Community’, I’m a bit confused on its title). There are nearly 2,000 members and the site appears to have a good level of engagement between the resort and those members.My Steamboat screen capture

Here’s the thing, this past Friday, Ning announced that they will be eliminating their free platform to concentrate solely on paid products. Hopefully Steamboat is already a “paying Ning Creator” so they won’t have to wait for pricing to be announced for their social site that they’ve worked quite hard to establish. In any case, this is a clear example of how dependence upon a third party for services like social networks is an exercise in trust and something that can change at any time.

This all said, I have to say that I really like what Ning provides as a social platform. We’ve done a number of experiments with closed Ning communities (primarily online focus groups) at the resort and they’ve all been exceedingly successful. The setup is very simple and the administration tools are easy to work with and it’s quite easy to build in corporate branding as well.

I hope that Ning doesn’t get pushed down by the glut of  publicity that their business model shift is getting as I think that it is a great service, just one that the end users need to be able to know that it will exist in the future and not be priced too high or have services reduce unnecessarily.

An Appropriate Social Media Post?

I found this video via an ‘industry forum’, but it’s a publicly available clip on YouTube that already has over 10,000 views. My question is, do you think this is a video that an employee (I’m assuming that’s who shot it) should share via a public channel? I’m wondering what thoughts are from those of us in the ski industry as well as those of you that perhaps just love to ski and ride. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

IMPORTANT: There’s some ‘colorful’ language in this clip so it’s  NSFW, mainly if you’re at the office with speakers turned on!

Resetting Expectations

I’ve been meaning to write about something that I experienced with my daughter on the slopes here in Park City back in December for some time now, but I haven’t found the right moment too until now.

At work, we’ve been rolling up our sleeves and getting into a lot of strategic planning and I’ve found myself looking at many things from a different (and hopefully better) perspective. To understand where this is coming from I need to tell a little story about two days back in early December…

On the first weekend of this past December I was feeling pretty antsy. I had promised my daughter that we would head out with one of her friends (and his dad) for some skiing. Little did I know that a bitter cold snap was on the way and that temperatures would be hovering near zero as we were making preparations to head out. The other dad and I nervously texted each other but agreed that we would try for at least a run as we had set expectations for the kids and didn’t want to dash them.

It was cold…bitter cold…people were wearing layers on top of layers, but my daughter was wearing a huge grin and having a blast sliding around with her friends. The other dad and I were
stripping off layers as skiing with two year olds is a lot more work than one would think and we were steaming when we all stopped at the lodge for hot chocolate and M&Ms.

After a few minutes of rest and restrooms we were astounded when both kids asked to go back out into the bitter cold for “more skiing!” Needless to say, we went up for more runs and when we finally got home my wife was amazed that we had been out as long as we had.

The next week was another experience – a huge, blustery, wet, blizzard! Yet again, I contemplated whether or not the daddy/daughter ski date should proceed. I still couldn’t imagine that my daughter would enjoy being outside in wet snow that was coming down sideways. Once again, I stowed my worries aside and burrowed through the drifts to the resort where we (again) had an amazingly fun ski day.

My daughter and I have continued to ski together (and with mom sometimes) for almost every weekend this ski season. I’ve never again hesitated when weather conditions seemed inclement. And each time we’ve gone up, I’ve tried to put myself more in my daughter’s shoes and remember what it is like to experience life as a child without preconceived notions. As I’ve been doing this, I’ve been reminded of the many times that I came home as a child growing up in Minnesota with frozen solid blue jeans while having had the best time sledding and playing in the snow with friends. In my years, I’d forgotten how much fun it is to just do and to not worry. It took a two year old to remind me that it’s not good to go into every situation with expectations and therefore I’m resetting my expectations as often as I can be reminded to do so by my (now three year old) daughter.

Chris Brogan’s post on “The Importance of Story in Your Life” provided some of the additional inspiration I needed to write this post, thanks Chris!

Photo credit: Me – but mostly the wonderful girl in the photo, thanks little k!

How not to ride a rope tow

Sometimes words just aren’t needed:

Too much snow?

I don’t know if I really believe that there can be too much snow…after all, it’s dumped well over three feet of snow in the past few days, the skiing has been the best it’s been all year and I am ready for it to keep snowing all the way through April 18th – the resort’s extended closing date. This said, check out this video and see you you think that perhaps there can be too much snow!

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