A Ski Report from Zell am See

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Just back from a few days skiing in Zell am See, staying at Pension Andrea. It was a great trip, despite some unseasonably warm temperatures (it was well above freezing on the mountain), which offered up some Spring-like ski conditions in the depths of Winter. It is remarkable how well these resorts manage so early in the season in such warm conditions and especially given that snow falls have not exactly been stellar these last few weeks. Zell has quite a thin covering now despite a few extra centimetres on the night we arrived. We spent 2.5 days in the local resort and a day in middle up on Kaprun, the nearby glacier, which offers some snow-sure confidence to the area.

The usual bag of ski-tech performed well. We used RunKeeper to track our progress on the mountain and I was delighted to get more than a full day of usage out of my iPhone 5S despite some heavy duty activity and location tracking, lots of photos, and a fair bit of social-media uploading; the great thing about Zell am See is that free wifi is commonplace, both in the town and on the mountain.

The GoPro came along as usual too but, also as usual, it’s battery continues to disappoint. I have the wifi pack and remote control, which is handy but now means I have 3 GoPro batteries to charge every day. And realistically I only get a half-day of skiing out of the standard battery, which is disappointing.

Earlier this year I bought a handy Mophie Juicepack as an external battery for my i-things and it was a great help on the mountain as it provided much needed power tops during coffee and lunch for the GoPro.

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RunKeeper did a great job with nearly flawless location tracking (apart from a single stray point on the last day that placed us 5km away from where we should be and offered a top-speed of 600km/h) and good speed tracking (if a little scary – it was not my intention to hit 80km/h!)

As an aside I’m amazed that RunKeeper does not seem to report max speed as a standard metric. I had to manually locate it on the interface by eye-balling the  high-point in the standard speed graph.

Why RunKeepr when there are other apps designed specifically for tracking skiing? Well apart from the advantage of keeping all of my activity data in one place  the one or two ski-apps I tested (briefly) seemed to need an active data connection to do their stuff. This just won’t work for travellers given current roaming data rates.

I would love the off-line functionality of RunKeeper but with some additional knowledge of skiing built-in. For example, it should be straightforward to distinguish runs from lifts and segment activity accordingly.  Naming and grading the runs/lifts should also be possible. And it would be great to get a data analysis (speed, distance, calories etc) by run-type (blue, red, black) etc.

Does such an app exist? If it does then I will test it during the big family ski trip next month. Until then I will be watching the snow reports!

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