Saturday, November 24, 2012

Winter's Tale: It's On To Alpine Replay

The time of the year has arrived to snap on the skis and record my runs using the app Alpine Replay. The app is very similar to other sports tracking tools, using the GPS software on your phone to provide all kinds of data for compiling on the web. In terms of Alpine Replay (AR), that includes total vertical feet and miles skied, for each run, day, and total for the season.

You can always check how you're doing by consulting the leaderboard, which shows where you stand in your resort (Sugarbush in VT for me) and of course "the world." The app aggregates numerous other statistics, including average and sustained speed, calories burned, and it even delineates how much time you spent resting, riding the chairlift, and actual ski time.

AR also makes an algorithmic stab at air time, the "totally rad bro" time you spend aloft on your skis or snowboard. For me, this data point is usually substituted by the regrettable phrase "Hmmmm. Doesn't look like you recorded any Air Time on this day."

The speed data has to be tricky for the AR programmers, and for every developer that has to calculate speed from GPS data. The GPS software gives you geographic points (longitude and latitude) for timeframes such as each second.

So I would guess that the software measures the length of the geographic route (the ski run) and the seconds that transpired covering that distance. At any event, you have to take the speed estimates with a grain of salt (or snow, or ice); they appear to be in the right ballpark.

What's also cool about Alpine Replay is the integration with Google Earth 3D, as in the displayed photo. Very nice way of looking at the surrounding mountainous topography from a bird's eye perch, making it worth the time shoving the phone in an empty pocket and sending off your runs to be crunched on the web.

Finally, AR has the usual social-media integration, and internal competitions. It's pretty nifty to try to rack up vertical feet for a new pair of skis!