I hate doing anything on my phone while I’m snowboarding – emails, social notifications, changing music, even trying to meet up with friends. Soon enough your fingers are freezing, your phone has snow on it, and oh look you’ve just dropped it off the chairlift.
Lucky me because I don’t have those problems anymore. The new Apple Watch Series 3 syncs up with my iPhone so that I can take phone calls, see my emails and social notifications, change music and more without interacting with my phone at all. I can screen exactly what notifications I want to receive to my watch, and from who and it can all be done hands-free with Siri so I don’t have to take my gloves off.
If I don’t want to hear from anyone while riding then I can set that up too, or just notifications from the crew I’m riding with. Oh and did I mention I can track my runs, calories burned, heart rate, max speeds and vertical achieved with a new snowsports tracking app?
The Apple Watch can also then track how many calories you’ve burned and credit them to your Activity Rings the same way it would for a workout at the gym, then remind you if you need to do more.
I may just be a little bit in love.
If it’s good enough for New Zealand Olympic Bronze Medalist, Nico Porteous, who uses the watch and technology to track his own training data including his heart rate and speed going into jumps so he can do better every time, then it’s more than good enough for me.
Yep, definitely in love.
App, app, baby
The Apple Watch Series 3 has inbuilt sensors including an accelerometer, altimeter, GPS, and heart rate monitor to track your movements and body vitals. It then gives back accurate data via a number of skiing and snowboarding apps.
If you like numbers and worry about apps chewing through your battery and data then Ski Tracks could be for you. If you love the social side of snowsports and are keen to meet up with friends old and new then check out SNOCRU. Slopes is another good all-rounder app to track you through the day but so far my favourite has been snoww because of the way it combines the social side of skiing and snowboarding with the hard data, while adding a touch of fun into its functionality.
A few things that made snoww stand out from the rest were its visuals, social side and trimming ability. This trimming ability means that if you forget to stop the app at the end of your day then you can go back and cut out the part where you weren’t riding.
Like the time I drove from Thredbo to Jindabyne and an app thought I had been snowboarding for 32kms straight and thus added all that time and distance as exercise to my Apple Watch Activity rings.
With a quick look at your watch via the app and you can see your max speed, distance covered, your vertical, how many runs you’ve done and the amount of time you’ve been riding for. Meanwhile, the Apple Watch is also monitoring your heart rate, distance and calories burned, which contributes to your Activity Rings. It also knows when you’re actually riding versus when you’re just chilling on the chairlift.
Find your crew
The snoww app also helps you to find your friends (or children) on the hill, showing how far away they are and what run they’re on. The app developer is currently creating a feature that allows you to hunt down your friends by seeing where they are through an augmented reality view of the mountain. It will launch in December, just in time for the northern season.
Compete with your mates
On the social side of things, snoww allows you to create groups of friends, to follow people and be followed back, and to see leaderboards for the most vertical, hours, distance, runs and max speed.
One of my favourite aspects of the snoww app was that I could add photos and videos from the day that my followers could see, and they could share theirs too. There are a bunch of trophies to unlock too, and I was pretty amused to unlock the ‘Skiwi’ trophy for riding in New Zealand.
If it’s not on the app it didn’t happen
The snoww app is really a two step process. First, there’s the experience on the hill where you can quickly see your stats on your watch. Second, at the end of the day or over a break where you can go into the app on your phone and get more detailed information. This provides a way to relive the experience and fondly look back at your day.
It’s not hard to imagine that in a few years we’ll all have our own wearable technology and that in the future it could help elite athletes to reach new heights. But for now, the Apple Watch can improve skiing and snowboarding for the pros and punters alike.
Alex Parsons was a guest of The Spire Hotel and Coronet Peak