No guesswork: GPS system tracks your day on the mountain at Winter Park Resort | SkyHiNews.com

No guesswork: GPS system tracks your day on the mountain at Winter Park Resort

Reid Armstrong
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, CO Colorado
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News Photo Illustration
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News | Sky-Hi Daily News

Have you ever come home from a long day of skiing and tried to brag your friends about how many times you shot the moguls on Drunken Dutchman, but they don’t really believe you?

Or maybe you’re visiting Winter Park Resort on a family vacation and can’t even remember the name of those runs over on Vasquez Ridge you liked so much. Perhaps it’s your kids you want to track, just in case somebody gets lost.

Flaik, a new GPS system at Winter Park Resort, is offering snow riders a way to re-live their day.

Available to rent for $19.95 per day or $14.95 for season pass holders, the red neoprene holster wraps around the leg, just above the boot line. The device, which looks initially like it might be cumbersome, quickly becomes unnoticeable, at least until a fellow lift passenger gives you an odd look, like maybe you’ve escaped from house arrest for the day.

Once on the slopes, a white light confirms that your movements are being tracked. That’s about it.

The fun begins when you get home. After 4 p.m., all the information about your day becomes available online. Just log on, and you can see every run you made. You can trace your route on a map, see how fast you went, how many vertical feet you skied and how many miles you traveled.

That information is saved under your screen name for perpetuity, as a memento of your day. If you rent flaik (yes, it’s lower case) at a different mountain, that information is also collected under your screen name.

Groups can devise their own fun with flaik by creating customized challenges, like setting up a scavenger hunt or organizing prizes around who skis the most vertical feet, who rides the most lifts or who took the most hot chocolate breaks.

At the end of the day, share a map of your travels with family and friends.

Catching on

Founded by Steve Kenny in 2005, flaik was the idea of a couple guys wrestling for bragging rights over who skied the most or the fastest on the mountain that day. The system made its debut last year at Copper Mountain and Steamboat and is now used at nine resorts in the U.S. and Canada.

It gained popularity with the resorts, not for its knack of proving who actually skied more vertical feet, but as a safety feature. Placed on instructors and ski school students, flaik can track lesson groups around the mountain and send out instant alerts when a student ventures too far from an instructor.

Back at headquarters in the ski school building, flaik employees closely monitor the GPS tracking systems by computer. The map updates every 45 seconds and staff receives warnings when a student falls behind, skis too fast or takes the wrong trail. Toggling over the dot on the map allows staff to pinpoint the identity and location of a missing student so they can be reunited with their instructor.

Private groups who rent the system can have the same benefit of being able to log on via a mobile phone or computer and monitor the near real-time location of their friends and family members.

Winter Park resort now has 1,500 flaik devices and outfits every ski school student and instructor with one.

Its popularity is evident, said Brian Ryall, manager of Colorado operations: “The parents rave about it, and the kids go back to log on to the Web site again and again.”

It becomes a personal ski journal, Ryall said, and people keep coming back to it to re-live their day.

Private rentals are available at the Winter Park Resort Mountain Adventure Center and at the Jane Shop. Data is available in near real time on the flaik Web site, http://www.flaik.com.

– Reid Armstrong can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610 or rarmstrong@skyhidailynews.com.


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