Ever since I started snowboarding at the age of 20, I have been in love with it. Like many other hobbies, the beginning can be kind of hard, but as soon as you got the technique, you are addicted. I regularly go snowboarding and try not to miss any chance to ride, but this year's season was sadly short, due to the Coronavirus (Covid-19).
So, I thought to myself, why not write about my favorite hobby to shorten the wait for the next season for you and for me. I believe everyone who is into snowboarding like I am, feels the same: When you are standing on your board, it is a very special moment. Your mind is clear and fully synchronized with your body. Even though it gets exhausting after a long day in the cold sometimes, it is like a switch to another reality where nature, board and you are interconnected.
All the better, in the past year's several technologies have entered the snowboarding scene which makes the hobby even more interesting for a techie like me.
Keep connected on your snowboard
Ingo Joseph - Pexels.com
The very first rule if you go biking, hiking, snowboarding or climbing off the beaten track: You should never go alone. And technology can help you to stay connected to your outdoor partner. Sure, if you lose sight of your partner you could use your smartphone to call or write them, but a phone is sometimes hard to reach when you are stuck in a skiing suit. That's why I'm using a smartwatch. In addition to tracking your distance and speed or checking the weather conditions, it can be used to send text or voice messages to your friends, too. On Apple Watches, for instance, you have a Walkie-Talkie-App to instantly send voice messages. It is very convenient but might not work when you are on a mountain or in the deepest wilderness, because it depends on the connection of your smartphone. In this case, you could use real Walkie-Talkies, which is a bit old-school, but always work.
High Tech clothes – snowboarding with comfort
Of course, fashion is a big topic in snowboarding. For me, it is a part of your snowboard riding style. Though, clothes for winter sports have to do more than the usual activewear. Besides looking smart, they also have to keep riders warm and protected. Some manufacturers go even a step further and combine fashion with technology.
The designers of the brand Kjus, for example, produce a jacket with so-called HYDRO_BOT technology, which is an electrified membrane that creates an electroosmotic flow to actively pump sweat to the outside of the jacket. The moisture management can be controlled with the touch of a button or the corresponding app. No more hassle with lots of layers to cool down or warm-up while riding.
Another interesting product is the BT 2.0 Glove: A glove that connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth. When someone calls you, a little display on the glove shows you who is calling, and you can pick up and speak to them with a built-in speaker and microphone. I believe, this could look a bit strange to people around you when you are talking to your glove, but on the other hand, it's the closest you will get to feeling like 007.
Stay safe on track
The necessity of wearing a helmet while skiing or snowboarding is a no-brainer. Luckily, nothing really-really bad happened to me, but I often heard horror stories of people who crashed or got buried by an avalanche. Especially when freeriding you expose yourself to danger even when you are a pro.
Alaskan Playground with John Jackson
But if you want to go offsite of crowded slopes, you should always be prepared for worst-case scenarios. An avalanche airbag can be a sensible addition to your gear. Some manufacturers provide integration of an airbag in a backpack, which is practical and could save your life. According to a study, 440 people were killed by avalanches in the U.S. in the past 45 years. If you get hit by massive amounts of snow you can pull the strap, the airbag inflates and you stay on top and have a higher chance to survive.
Another great technology, which could save your life are avalanche transceivers. This tiny device, which you should keep close to your body, sends strong radio signals if activated. A sensible complement is the RECCO reflector. The passive transponder, which does not require a power source or activation, is integrated into many products such as jackets, helmets or shoes and reflects the signals of an active sender. Both technologies help rescue teams to scan the snow masses in a short amount of time. But be aware that RECCO reflectors are not a substitute to avalanche transceivers! If you want to make sure that your gear has a build-in transponder, pay attention to this label below.
In terms of rescue, the Czech Mountain Rescue Service goes a step further and combine signal detection with drones. Thereby they reduce their search times by up to 50 percent because a drone can scan a large avalanche site more quickly than a person on foot.
Mountain Rescue - Drone saves lives after avalanche
It's astonishing to see how technology is used in many creative ways, whether it is for communication, comfort or safety. And there is even more potential. Maybe there will be AI-based full-body airbags that analyze the current situation and inflate right before an accident? Or ski lifts will become obsolete due to drones? I am excited for the next season. And you?