Sometimes technology on the slopes is a good thing, and if you own (or hope to own) an Apple Watch, this is one of those times. Apple has just unveiled a handful of app updates for the Series 3 watch that enables skiers to track their stats—and then some—without even needing to carry their phones.
The Series 3, which added an altimeter and an option for cellular service, lets skiers track stats via the device on their wrist, and even leave their phones at home or at the condo— gasp!—if they have the cellular option. For practical purposes, this comes in handy for several reasons. First, no worries of dropping your pricey iPhone off the lift. Second, taking off gloves and digging your phone out of its warm cocoon is, frankly, a pain. With the watch, you can engage Siri to start and stop several of the apps, and its easy-access wrist location is far more convenient than an inner jacket pocket.
We had an opportunity to test two apps on the slopes of Squaw Valley, Calif., recently, in nearly two feet of fresh powder.
Slopes: This app, upgraded for Apple Watch Series 3, tracks all the expected info—vert, distance, speed, trail location—and also lets you know how hard you’re working thanks to a calorie counter. It’s very intuitive and easy to use. You can get all that info with the free app, but for $20 a year, the trail and 3D maps, which track your movement on every single run and replay it for you on demand, are pretty rad. (Think replaying your day on an interactive trail map, run by run.)
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows: The Squaw Alpine team was the first ski resort to create a ski-centric app for the Apple Watch, and has remained ahead of the game when it comes to tracking stats at a resort. There’s the expected stats, such as lifts, trails, distance, vert, and speed, but where Squaw exceeds expectations is in connecting with its skier and boarder community via the new-this-season Leaderboards. Regulars and visitors alike can compete for the highest vert in a single day, a week, or more, no need to be a local to get in on it. If you’re the competitive type, this one’s for you.
The other app updates for Apple Watch Series 3 include Ski Tracks, Snoww, and Snowcru, which have all been around for a while, but are worth revisiting in their new wrist-focused iterations. What’s more, downhill skiing and snowboarding have been added as Workouts by Apple in the Activity app, so Apple Watch regulars who are intent on closing their rings will be given the appropriate credit to do so. All the info is also collected on the Health app on your iPhone, so you can pour over the details in the comfort of the lodge.
For example, one morning spent getting a tour of Squaw with Olympic gold medalist mogul champ and resort ambassador Jonny Moseley earned me a 500-plus calorie burn, 73 exercise minutes, and seven flights of stairs. (Though we did bootpack from the Siberia Express quad to the top of Squaw Peak via the Reverse Traverse and treated ourselves to a pow-choked ride through The Slot. Then we roared down 2,000 feet of vertical off the iconic KT-22 lift on our next run.)
As someone who likes to know her ski stats—and really likes to close her rings—I find the new updates useful and engaging. I imagine this is just the beginning of a very warm relationship between Apple Watch and skiing. We look forward to seeing what’s next.