Has Technology wrecked Skiing?

Technology has spoiled aspects of skiing. Don’t get me wrong, I love certain ski technology. My skis with rocker in the tip and tail plow through crud and pow, but still carve on cord and hard pack. I enjoy taking photos on my phone and tracking my vertical with the Alpine Replay app. On a recent heli ski trip, I was amazed by the accuracy of the new transceivers during our avalanche training. So I am not “old school” but I think the tech wave has brought several unfortunate changes to the purity of skiing.

I don’t like riding the chair, or worse a gondola, with someone who is chatting on their cell phone on speaker or cranking out loud music I can overhear from their ear buds. I enjoy meeting new skiers, talking about their travels and favorite trails on the lift rides. I find it rude to exclude the one you’re with.

For those of you sporting your helmet loaded up with skull candy music or noise canceling headphones, I don’t think that makes you safer if you can’t hear an oncoming groomer, snowmobile, snowboarder or skier.

I have witnessed skiers talking on their cell while cruising down the mountain, texting with their poles tucked under one arm as they skid down the ski trail, even chatting with their flip phone wedged in their helmet. That’s distracted driving on the ski slopes and should be banned here and on the highway. Don’t even get me started on the danger of amateur drones crashing into skiers and lift towers.

I worry about Smart Goggles by Oakley and Smith, and their potentially stupid operators. Do you really need a digital display on your lens of a trail map, your GPS coordinates, your altitude, speed, incoming texts and emails? Seems like a distracting amount of data to me. Besides, don’t we got to the mountains to take a break from tech, work and the web?

I think people that wear Go Pro cameras on top of their helmets look like TeleTubbies. There I said it. I understand the desire to see your skiing, to capture and download your day digitally and upload it to YouTube. But I wonder how many of these countless hours of mundane footage are actually ever viewed.

On a recent heli ski day in BC, our cell phones had to be turned off all day so as not to interfere with our avi-transceivers. We enjoyed meaningful banter and many laughs with our German heli-mates, total strangers with limited English became friends during our day’s adventure. As soon as we returned to the lodge however, the cell phones came on, videos were watched and the flow of conversation stopped.

Après ski used to be about sharing stories and laughs about your day with your alpine buddies. Now I see skiers and riders glued to their cells, posting to instagram, facebooking selfies, and watching today’s videos. Social media isn’t very social here people.

Why not go off-line when you are on the ski slopes? Unplug during your upload and talk to your chairlift neighbor, maybe make a new alpine acquaintance Savor nature’s silence and snow on a secluded ski trail without tunes. Take in the stunning alpine scenery in your mind’s memory card. Focus on your good fortune outside, and not facebook check ins. I will remind myself too, as I tend to over share. I look forward to meeting you on a ski lift ride.