Skiing and snowboarding have always been cutting-edge sports, thanks to renegade personalities and high-tech gear. But this ski season, designers are stepping it up to a whole new level. Here, take a look at some of the finest in snowsports tech—and enter to win some gear of your own.
Want to score your own high-tech snowsports equipment? It’s easy: Visit our sister site
Skiingmag.com (we share owners, and a love of playing in the snow with the latest gadgets). Every day for the next week, they’re giving away free gear, lift tickets and resort packages. All you have to do is answer a trivia question and enter to win.
Rossignol Harness Pants
Wearing a harness with ski pants has long been a required hassle when trekking into high alpine environments—you need the harness in case of crevasse rescue or other potentially dangerous situations. But the harness on the outside of the pants can feel awkward and bulky. That’s no longer the case, thanks to Rossignol’s Harness Pant, which integrates a mountaineering harness into the waist-area of the pants. Weighing only 94 grams, it meets European, American, and Canadian harness standards and allows climbers and skiers to negotiate roped traverses, glaciers, and long rappels without fishing a harness from their pack. $300;
New Apple Patent
recently filed a patent on a new device that’s similar to the Nike+ program, which measures and records data for runners. This one is for skiers and snowboarders, and it could track everything from speed to vertical drop to hang time. The data could revolutionize how Olympic-level ski racers train. It could also make the rest of us more honest about how much air we actually catch.
Flaik Skier Tracker
It sounds creepy in a 1984 sort of way, but Flaik, a new GPS tracking device for outdoor sports enthusiasts, is designed to keep people safe. Ski resorts like Colorado’s Steamboat Springs and Canada’s Whistler Blackcomb offer Flaik to track the location of their visitors. Utilizing GPS and cellular technology, Flaik helps parents find their kids, ski instructors hunt down students, and groups compete for how much vertical they ski in a day.
Colltex Extreme Climbing Skins
Made from 100 percent mohair fibers, Colltex Extreme Climbing Skins—made to help skiers walk uphill—utilize newly patented glue that only becomes sticky when pressure is applied, meaning the skins are easier to pull off at the summit so you can spend more time skiing than yanking. Plus: They’re treated with a water repellent coating to combat ice build-up. Minus: They’ll cost you about as much as that new alternator your car’s needed for a while. $240;
SatSports makes GPS units geared toward skiers, bikers, golfers, and runners, but now they’re offering SatSki, an app for WinMobile. SatSki’s ridiculous amount of features includes a digital trail map rife with mountain info about restaurants and nearby facilities. Route planning lets you avoid crowded beginner runs and GPS keeps track of the amount of vertical feet you’ve skied and your top speed. It also has an emergency feature to broadcast your location and a buddy finder to help track down friends if they go missing.
XT9 Prosthetic Ski Knee
Before Jarem Frye created the XT9, above-the-knee amputees were told they couldn’t ski on two legs. Now skiers like Frye, who at 14 lost his leg to bone cancer, are hucking 20-foot drops using his prosthetic knee, which replaces the role of thigh muscles using a shock like those on mountain bikes.
A ski binding that actually reduces your chance of knee injury While most ski bindings have two release points (lateral toe release, forward heel release), the new KneeBinding has a third—a patented lateral heel release—allowing it to let go when standard bindings will not. As a result, the KneeBinding may drastically reduce the number of ACL injuries among skiers in the future. The type of fall that accounts for more than 70 percent of ACL injuries occurs when the skier is in the backseat and the lower leg is thrust sideways and outward. $459;
Nordica EDT Boot Board
Advances in ski-boot technology are rare. Which is why we love Nordica’s Efficient Dynamic Technology (EDT). Bootboards, the flat slivers beneath ski-boot liners, are usually made of plastic. This year, four Nordica boots will feature extruded aluminum bootboards attached through the shell with four bolts. The added torsional rigidity increases power transmission to the ski. For real. We tried it. The aluminum is covered with two layers of heat-reflective material and a blanket of polyurethane foam, so cold feet needn’t concern you. From $995;
Marker Schizo Binding
Skiers who ride in terrain parks (jumps, halfpipes, and rails) often choose to mount their bindings in the center of the ski, as opposed to a more traditional rear mount. This new binding from Marker, called the Schizo, lets skiers easily change their mounting position on the fly. With just a screwdriver, the entire Schizo binding moves forward and backward three centimeters on the ski. Float powder and dice chutes all morning in the back position and stomp park landings all afternoon in the center position. The binding comes in two DIN ranges: the Jester Schizo (6 to 16), and the Griffon Schizo (4 to 12). $495, $395;
Blizzard IQ Max Slider System
Go ski touring, alpine skiing, or telemarking on the same set of skis, according to your whim. Every new Blizzard ski wider than 80 millimeters features IQ Max, a wide-footprint binding system that consists of a plate that slides into a recessed channel and attaches easily with one screw. The plate accepts any binding from any manufacturer; one set comes with a new pair of Blizzards. Buy a plate for each of your different bindings and switch between bindings in seconds. $80,
Cozy Camera Bag
When professional adventure photographer Billy Doran is shooting cold-weather ski and snowboard events, he’s often standing around in sub-zero temperatures for hours. To protect his valuable camera equipment (and to keep his shooting hand warm), Doran created the Cozy Camera Bag. Made of nylon, neoprene and fleece, the Cozy Camera Bag acts as an enclosed mitten for your camera, shooting hand, and forearm, keeping your equipment well insulated and insuring full battery life. “I’ve used it when it was 25 below zero and it was great—like shooting on a spring day,” says Doran. The camera bag was put to the test in June 2008 when it was successfully used on a Mt. Everest expedition.
Hafjell Mountain Hotel
Designed by BIG Architecture in Denmark for an upcoming project in Hafjell, Norway, the Hafjell Mountain Hotel will offer ski-in and ski-out accommodations for every one of its 332 rooms—no matter what floor you’re staying on. The design team approached the project by wondering how to integrate a hotel into the mountainside while keeping the convenience of a modern, urban hotel. Their solution? Stretch out the hotel so it extends down the mountainside, one story at a time. But the best feature is that you get to the gondola by skiing down the roof.
Okemo Pipe Monster
Question: What’s better than a pipe monster that can carve 17-foot-high half-pipe walls for a ski resort’s terrain park? Answer: A laser-guided pipe monster. Americans have become experienced at building construction sites through lasers, but this is new technology for ski resorts. Developed a few summers ago with construction-site grading equipment, Vermont’s Okemo ski resort can groom their 500-foot-long superpipe with an unequalled precision. The result of this accuracy is better upkeep, optimal vertical, and smoother landings for skiers and snowboarders.
An new indoor ski area concept called Ski-Trac uses a massive rotating circle of snow tilted at different angles, making the slope seemingly endless. No chairlifts needed. The 165-feet-wide snowy field curves its way around a 900-foot-long slope, and depending on the speed of the moving hill, it can seem between 1,200 feet long or a whopping 12 miles long. This allows for steeper, more sustained slopes than you’ll find at typically flat and low indoor ski fields in places like England or New Jersey. Utilizing what’s called Mag-level technology, the snow deck sits atop an electro-magnetic field and doesn’t require wheels, providing a friction- and vibration-free rotation that makes little noise and demands very little maintenance. The drive power is supplied by linear motor.
Cold-weather apparel made with Klymit NobleTek is simultaneously ultralight and hyper-efficient, thanks to chambers that keep the body warm in the same way double-paned windows insulate a building. A layer of argon has the same thermal conductivity as a layer of down or synthetic fiber insulation three times as thick, and unlike those materials, it’s unaffected by wetness or compression. The wearer can adjust the warmth level on the go by connecting a thumb-sized argon canister to a valve in the pocket, filling the 15-millimeter chambers for more heat or releasing the gas to cool down. And because argon is nearly weightless, Klymit’s 10.5-ounce Double Diamond four-way stretch vest boasts the highest warmth-to-weight ratio on the market, keeping you both warm and mobile on the slopes. From $200;
Yamaha FX Nytro MTX SE 162
The heavy steel coils in snowmobiles’ suspension systems make them tough to maneuver through narrow forest trails. The FX Nytro replaces those coils with nitrogen-filled shock absorbers to reduce weight and enable riders to move smoothly through tight spots and deep snow. A simple bicycle-like pump lets riders adjust pressure in all four shocks depending on their weight and how stiff a ride they want, making the vehicle truly one-size-fits-all. $12,600;
Atomic Double Deck Skis
These skis represent a new generation of smart skis that automatically adapt to conditions and skier ability. They are essentially two skis built into one: The bindings are mounted to a top ski (the control deck), which is then affixed to another ski (the adaptor deck) that’s actually in contact with the snow. The adaptor deck provides glide while the control deck transfers energy to the deck, like power steering on a car. The Double Deck integrates a technology called Vario-cut, which allows the ski to self-adapt its turning radius between 15 and 21 meters to satisfy a skier’s needs and the mountainous terrain. This is possible because the skis are literally cut down the middle, tip to binding and binding to tail, and fastened with an elastomer that condenses or stretches depending on the amount of power exerted. The combination of the two decks gives the skier more control, a progressive flex, improved power transfer, and better rebound and chatter reduction. From $1,500;
Ardica Moshi Power System
Originally developed for military use, Moshi is the first apparel- heating system that’s strong enough both to warm clothing and charge portable electronic devices. Seven rechargeable lithium-ion batteries housed in a lightweight foam sleeve power heat-generating conductive yarn, warming the wearer of Moshi-equipped items like Mountain Hardware’s Refugium jacket ($230; mountainhardware.com) for up to nine hours between battery charges. At the same time, you can juice up your iPod or cellphone via a USB port (as many as eight times on a single charge of the battery pack) and even remove the slim pack to use as a portable gadget charger anywhere you go. $145;
Backcountry Access Float 30
Avalanches can be scary, but staying on top of a slide increases your chances of survival by reducing trauma and burial depth. Avalanche airbags aren’t a new idea (Europe has been making them for a while now), but Colorado-based Backcountry Access has perfected it for the mass market with their new Float 30 pack. A ripcord on the Float 30’s shoulder strap engages a carbon-dioxide-powered system (see video
here), inflating a 150-liter airbag to give you more flotation and neck support during the tumble and making you more visible. The idea being that if rescuers can more easily spot the inflated bag, getting you out will be that much quicker. backcountryaccess.com