A device the size of a deck of cards that straps onto a leg might ease the tension some parents face when sending their children off to ski school. The flaik (yes, like a misspelled half of snowflake) GPS unit, which is already combined with a ski school monitoring system at about a dozen mountain resorts worldwide, sends alerts when a little skier loses the group so that the instructor can corral him back in. At one resort that uses this system, Steamboat Springs in Colorado, about 10 to 15 out of 800 ski students will be separated from their instructors on a busy day, according to this AP story. Someone watching the GPS system remotely can tell the instructor when a student has strayed and pinpoint the skier's location on the mountain.
Not only is the flaik Ski School a safety precaution, but at the end of the day students can log into a website using a code and view statistics about their treks– where they skied on the mountain, the difficulty of the trails and how long they took to complete them, average and top speeds and overall vertical feet and distance covered. For adults who think that such information would make for a funner day of skiing, some resorts offer a daily flaik rental. The peace of mind that the GPS might add to a bad forecast could be another plus beyond entertainment. But while more than three dozen resorts have flaiks available, only a few of them also have the flaik Ski School system. Instead, the devices are kept on hand just for special events.
Flaik introduced its real-time tracking system to the United States in 2008 and now operates at nine other resorts in the country. In addition to the Ski School and Rental options, flaik also offers “Group” and “Event” setups that put together a community of skiers who can compare performance or participate in competitions. What better way to keep tabs on who really obtained the most vertical feet than a body-strapped GPS? All of these web-based flaik tools are meant to enhance the experience of skiers while simultaneously keeping them safe. The Boulder-based company won an Australian International Product of the Year award in 2008 and a design award from Germany's International Forum Design.