SNOW! You love to play in it and you hate to shovel it. In the lower mainland of BC, we don’t (typically) get as much snow as I did when I lived in Northeastern Ontario, but there are some pretty amazing locations in BC where you can enjoy many winter activities – both outdoor and indoor (by the fire...wink wink, nudge nudge). BC is known for its many, beautiful ski resorts. Ok, before you think that I’m actually working in Travel and Tourism, let me get to the point. When looking for a place to travel to, you would probably want to check out maps and any kid of information you can see about the tracks or even the resort itself.
With this in mind, an application that you should check out is GPS Ski Maps, formerly BerrySki. GPS Ski Maps provides in-depth information on hundreds of resorts from across Canada, the USA and Europe. You can also record and view your runs for future analysis; whether you want a trip, season or lifelong summary of your skiing or snowboarding history. Let’s take a look at what GPS Ski Maps has to offer.
GPS Ski Maps was developed by Bist LLC. The company also developed Topo Sports for Canada and the US. Topo Sports offers topo maps for use by outdoor sports enthusiasts. Basically, snow or no snow, BerrySki has you covered. GPS Ski Maps is available for BlackBerrys running 4.2 or higher – but in order to make use of all of the features available, you need to have a GPS enabled BlackBerry. During the review, version 2.20 was used – which has a file size of 322.9 KB (not including any maps you have downloaded). Keep in mind that GPS Ski Maps does come in multiple versions, depending on the number of resorts you wish to track you require:
For 1 North American Ski Resort – $7.99
For 5 North American Ski Resorts – App is $9.99
For All North American Resorts – App is $29.99
For 1 European Resort – App is $14.99
For All Resorts in a single European Country - App is $29.99
For all Resorts in Europe - App is $39.99
Rating in the CrackBerry App Store – 5/5
Rating in BlackBerry App World – 4.75/5 (average)
GPS Ski Maps allows users to download ski maps with ease, though the time it takes to download varies; depending on the resort. For example; retrieving the Whistler Blackcomb map took upwards of 8 to 10 minutes. I wonder if they are looking into quickening the pace of this process. I’m itching to hit the slopes already! Just remember that good things come to those who wait. The map detail is pretty impressive, as you can easily see information that includes elevation, lift/transportation direction and a trail map.
When viewing a map, first time users may be a bit confused, as to the usage of colours. The colours are used to show the level of difficulty of each trail; Green Trails are for beginners (me) and Double Black Trails are for Experts (definitely not me). The application also displays out other Points of Interest such as; Terrain Parks, Parking, Bowls, Lodges and Restrooms. That last one is particularly useful if you crapped your pants trying out an Expert trail. The maps are simple to navigate, especially if you are using a touch screen BlackBerry. The application also captured important information such as the type of lifts in use (Gondola, High Speed Quad, etc). What I would like to see is just a little bit more detail with the Points of Interest in order to make them more, well...interesting. One idea would be to include a rating system based on what other users thought.
Now while on the slopes, GPS Ski Maps works hard for you as well. Homing in on your GPS location, you can capture your progress. As you begin recording, your tracks are marked on the map, superimposed in a dark brown colour. This is used to tell you how much of the mountain you have tackled (man, you are all over the beginner trails!). As you are back in the lodge sipping on a hot chocolate (and sporting your latest cast), you can use this time to review your results. Any tracks that you have recorded can be replayed at your leisure; you can even use it to help you tell your story. In the playback, you are represented by a red dot on the map. The speed and path of the red dot mimic the path you have just taken. So if you ski faster at a certain point, the dot will move faster at the same point. Unfortunately, the dot will not record any screams of fear, but I’m sure a sudden (and drastic) decrease in speed will indicate a crash. Analytics from the recording include; the distance and time skied on each type of trail, the number of runs and your max and/or average speed. A Season or Lifelong summary will display the same information, and also includes the number of days that you have skied. The developer has partnered with Mountain Dynamics Inc to allow users to export your recordings in a GPX format for future viewing and sharing via the SnowRanger Uplink.
GPS Ski Maps provides an excellent “Seek and Record” solution for skiers and snowboarders, regardless of their level of expertise. The initial map download time may put a few users off, but hopefully they can look beyond this and be patient. In most cases, they have to wait for the slopes to be covered anyway. The recording playback is a great way to review your performance and should give you an indication that you need to stay on the bunny hill just a little bit longer.