Slow down there, partner!

Slow down there, partner!

If you're like me, you love your Ski Tracks app. Okay, so it may lack accuracy. Did you really hit 62.1 miles per hour on that cruiser? Really?? Whether you did or didn't, it's hard not to check out your Ski Tracks app as you're riding back up for another run. Maximum speed, distance, vertical, pitch, maps, photos, tunes - it's all in there. Plus it costs all of 99 cents. Who would want to compete with that?  Funny you should ask...

Ski Tracks is the invention of Core Coders founder Steve Wilson, who started his career building software for flight simulators before launching an app development shop in 2008. Wilson's creation has an average user rating of 4.5 out of 5 on the App store and is is promoted as "the most downloaded and popular mobile ski and snowboard tracking application in the world."

The Google Play Android version of Ski Tracks has won praise since its release in November 2012, and the most recent Ski Tracks update, in February 2013, improved battery life and fixed a bug responsible for some users losing data. The updated version was optimized for the iPhone 5, and IMHO it is pretty freakin awesome.

But Ski Tracks does not hold a monopoly on slopeside navigation. AlpineReplay, which changed its name to Trace in 2014, is a worthy competitor to say the least, and the folks behind Ski Nation have big plans as well.

Trace doesn't just measure speed and vertical; it also records calories burned, jumps and airtime, including jump height and rotation. You can track all this stuff at any resort in the world. Then at the end of the day, the app sends out a "session sheet" with details from your shred adventures that you can share with your friends. It teams up with resorts such as Mt. Hood Meadows to tell you and your friends everything you want to know about your day and then some.

Trace has bragging rights of its own for best mountain app, with over 5 billion feet of vertical measured. And the same team that designed AlpineReplay under GPS guru Dr. Anatole Loshkin is gearing up to release its newest creation, the Trace, hyped as "an action sport diary on technological steroids."

The Trace is powered by a small gizmo the size of an Oreo cookie to attach to your skis, snowboard, skateboard or surf board. The gizmo syncs up with your Trace mobile app to track your runs and tricks in detail, then share the results far and wide.

Sounds compelling and potentially game-changing in a GoPro sort of way. But the Trace isn't on the market yet, so there's no way of knowing how well it works. It will be interesting to see how many people are willing to shell out a hundred bucks or more for a GPS gizmo to attach to their gear, when the phone in your pocket already does a LOT.

Meanwhile, a newcomer on the scene called Ski Nation has been signing up rock-star Olympians and X-Games champs including Bode Miller, Ted Ligety, Hannah Kearney and Sammy Carlson as early backers. The goal is "to build an independent skier network and universal mobile application personal to each of us," and there's a quote from gold medalist Ted Ligety on their website saying, "Ski Nation is for everyone regardless of age, experience, skill, or their home mountain."

Probably wouldn't be wise for Ligety to hype it as an "app on steroids," given his sport's crack-down on performance enhancement cheaters. But having Ted the Shred as a spokesman and supporter will definitely help Ski Nation grab exposure.

From the Ski Nation website:

How it works… for now. Scroll through the ski area list and collect a “Ski Pin” for every place you’ve been. Thereafter collect a unique Ski Pin by GPS every time you’re on snow. Ski Nation will keep track of all skier days each year, number of seasons (including past years), and every ski area regardless of where you go or how you ski. It’s like keeping a passport with stamps for every country ever visited – it’s your lifetime of ski history… and it’s still being written.

After a few setbacks and delays, the Ski Nation app made its official public launch in November of 2014.

It's hard to imagine what Ski Nation will bring that Ski Tracks and AlpineReplay don't already provide. A direct connection to your brain's pleasure center? We shall see. One feature that could prove exciting or annoying, depending on the design, involves opting in for deals from ski areas and gear companies.

What about you? What's your favorite mountain app? Are you a quantified selfer? Or do you prefer to leave the phone at home, sneak off into the woods, and enjoy the mountain in unplugged peace?

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