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Sports Applications Technology

The World is at Your Ski Tips with Social Media

November 16, 2012


First, came ski magazines. Then it was ski movies. And now, it’s all about ski social media.

A number of ski resorts have combined the mountain experience with location-based social networking. The rise of Facebook, Twitter (News - Alert), YouTube, smartphones and more has set off the development of countless innovative applications that have changed the landscape of how humans interact with each other on the mountain. 

"The ski industry is involved in how technology affects our lives," Milena Rigos, a Tahoe-based social media consultant, recently told Mercury News. "Skiing is a very experiential sport in which people interact with their friends. Everyone has a cell phone on the mountain, so resorts have an interest in being mobile-optimized and having mobile apps where people can find out what's happening."

Colorado-based Vail Resorts, introduced EpicMix social network, a next-generation ski social media platform that has attracted over 300,000 users. EpicMix allows skiers and riders access interactive maps, track vertical feet, earn "pins" for mountain exploration and accomplishments, compare stats, share photos and keep track of friends' locations on the mountain.

Additionally, there are about 160-180 pins that can be awarded for completing various tasks on EpicMix.

Mike Slone, director of Vail Resorts, told IDG news that EpicMix doesn’t require any special technology other than your pass, it doesn’t require a mobile phone, or even taking the phone out of your jacket. “You just go about your day like you’ve always done, you ski, and have fun,” said.

One of its most popular features of EpicMix is a photo-sharing application that allows users to download and share images taken by professional photographers on the mountain. Fully integrated with Twitter and Facebook (News - Alert), images go into a guest's EpicMix account and can be viewed via the mobile app or online.

"Ultimately, EpicMix is a relationship platform," said Rob McKinney, EpicMix general manager. "What we want to provide our guests is the ability to get the most from their mountain experience. It's really a social gathering place for our guests."

With après ski tales being all about bragging about double black diamond trails and knee-deep powder, it provides a place for competitive skiers and riders to earn bragging rights. Marius Grigorescu, 36, started tracking his boarding activity when EpicMix first launched, and racked up 2.5 million vertical feet in 128 days on the mountain to earn the number one snowboarding spot on the EpicMix Leaderboard. "I get very competitive, and I like that posts can be shared on Facebook and Twitter," he said. 

Image via Shutterstock

Slone said that in the first few months that the service was available, some skiers logged several hundred thousand to a few million vertical feet. To put that in perspective, the average vertical rise on a mountain in Colorado or California is about 3,000 to 4,000 ft.

He explained, “One of our goals is to make it fun, exciting, and a allow people to experience new things that haven’t necessarily experienced.”

Even though there has been a lot of work done to EpicMix, the development team said there will be even more work done this season with the integration of video into the social networking app.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Braden Becker