Skiing and snowboarding, though passionately fun activities for those already converted, have about as much appeal to most people as major dental work. (Sorry Jay.)
To an inactive, obese, cocooning population that doesn’t like to get cold, the appeal of an outdoor winter activity that takes a commitment of time, energy, athleticism and discomfort to become proficient at is a serious nonstarter. This grim reality, coupled with the general need and desire to keep a stable workforce employed and in residence year ‘round is what drove Whistler to become a four-season resort. Well, that and wishful thinking.
But as has been conclusively shown this season, like it or not, at least for the foreseeable future this town’s fortunes rise and fall on the whims of those few who still ski and board. The multimillion dollar question then is this: How do we get more people up on the slopes, in the hotels, restaurants, bars and shops?
Clearly the answer is make skiing and boarding easier, more comfortable and up-to-date.
Let’s be honest, skiing hasn’t really progressed all that much technology-wise over the years. Since Howard Head finally figured out how to make metal skis with metal edges that would stay together, and plastics became more versatile, skis haven’t really evolved that much. In a world of virtual reality, micro-electronics, nanotechnology and manmade environments, skiing and boarding might as well be stuck in woolen knickers and knee sox time. It just isn’t hip.
But take heart! Help’s on the way. At this year’s big ski shindig in Las Vegas three things were absolutely clear. Major applications of cutting-edge technology are about to appear in the world of skiing. Fashion has edged out all other considerations when it comes to ski clothing except for the sub-niche of technothreads. And whacko inventors keep flooding the accessory and gimmick market with stuff about as useful as anchors on snowboards.
First up was Gamester’s new Mountain Dude game for the latest generation of Sony X-Box. Touted in the marketing literature as, "Finally, a game to get the youth of the nation off their fat asses and actually moving!!!", Mountain Dude is an interactive ski or snowboard game that provides "… real-life action and thrills of ripping and shredding."
Played on sensor pads resembling skis or a snowboard, the hyper-realistic, 3-D graphics lets porky wannabe mountain dudes and dudettes experience the thrill of extreme skiing, the jumps and jibs of pipe and park all without breaking a sweat or subjecting themselves to ridicule or serious injury.
"We predict," said Gamester’s CEO Sloof Lirpa, "Mountain Dude will lead to a whole lotta interest in real skiing and riding."