Gadgets and Tech

Skiing in the Digital Age

Want to improve your skiing? There's an AI app for that.

Like many who have skied their entire lives but have rarely seen themselves ski on video, I fancy myself an above-average skier. Carv, however, thought there was room for improvement. According to Carv, an AI ski coach analyzing my skiing via 48 pressure sensors in my ski boots, I do have some carving chops (Carv picked up high edge angles)—but my turns weren’t symmetrical. Through headphones connected to the Bluetooth trackers mounted on the back of my ski boots, Carv let me know mid-run that I was applying uneven and inconsistent pressure in my turns to the right. I course-corrected by pressuring my downhill ski more consistently throughout my next right turn. I was rewarded with a “ding” and “That’s it, nice work!” from Carv.

Launched as a prototype on Kickstarter in 2016 with a 3.0 version set to debut in December 2019, Carv is the brainchild of Jamie Grant, a recreational skier with a background in physics and machine learning who was hungry for concrete ski data to help him improve on the slopes. “I wanted a way to measure technique and understand what I needed to do to improve,” says Grant. “To date, there has been virtually no digital innovation in skiing. As an industry it has been vastly outperformed by other sports such as cycling and golf.”

So Grant and Carv co-developer Pruthvikar Reddy designed a system of smart inserts that fit beneath the liner of any ski boot; a hardware piece that attaches to the cuff of the ski boot and tracks over 35 metrics on every turn; and the Carv app that analyzes your skiing ability, provides real-time audio feedback, and incentivizes you to learn and progress through skill-specific drills and challenges.

“Carv allows anybody to be able to track their skiing, diagnose issues, and improve their technique on their own terms and in their own time,” says Grant. While the idea of an AI ski coach may meet skepticism, it has piqued the interest of ski instructors. “Carv shows the truth about how I stand and move versus how I think I stand and move on skis,” says Michael Rogan, head coach of the Professional Ski Instructors of America alpine demo team. After testing Carv 2.0, Rogan believes Carv could be an effective tool to enhance coaching and learning between instructors and students on the slopes. That said, Carv isn’t a substitute for ski instructors. “Carv gives you a lot of information, almost too much. Trying to make sense of it all can be overwhelming,” says Rogan.

In other words, Carv gives you a comprehensive diagnosis of your skiing problems, but not a treatment plan as actionable or astute as one you would receive from an instructor IRL. However, if you’re a data nerd, Carv has the potential to get you hooked on the coolest aspect of skiing—technique. At that point, you might as well embrace the nerd.

Digital Slope Tech

Give your ski days a boost with these smart gadgets.

Snowcookie Smart Ski Tracker

Snowcookie App
Photo courtesy of Snowcookie

An AI ski monitoring system that tracks and analyzes your skiing via three wireless sensors (one for each ski and one for your body) and spits out all that data via a smartphone app. [$360;]

Phoozy XP3 Thermal Capsule

Phoozy XP3 Thermal Capsule
Photo credit: Keri Bascetta

This phone case made with NASA-inspired materials prevents the cold from sucking the life out of your phone battery. Bonuses: a stash pocket for cards and cash plus military-grade impact protection. [$50;]

Skullcandy Vert

Skullcandy Vert
Photo courtesy of Skullcandy

These headphones feature a Bluetooth dial that easily clips to your goggle strap for easy, on-the-go phone and music control, even while wearing gloves. [$79;]