Sports » Features

New app seeks to help skiers

SKIRAD developed by local physiotherapists, WB



It's not always easy to get back up on the hill at the beginning of each season.

And Mike Conway will tell you, it's not easy to get to the top of a figurative mountain either.

The Back in Action physiotherapist recently launched the SKIRAD (Ski Ready, Avoid Damage) app along with business partners Bianca Matheson and Therese Leigh and with support from Whistler Blackcomb. SKIRAD seeks to help skiers and snowboarders get into shape to avoid sustaining an injury on the mountain and get the most out of their season.

The app takes users right from a screening to see whether they are ready to go through a day on the slopes with pre- and post-snow exercises. There is nutrition and equipment advice to maximize the day, and injury advice, including for concussions, if things didn't go quite as planned.

"I describe it as a 'pre-habilitation' fit-for-snow guide. It's to prepare you for the ski season, but also maintain you through the season with a number of strategies," Conway said. "There are 200 anywhere exercises meaning you're not limited by equipment. Effectively, your world can be your gym.

"Every program is really 20 minutes or less, to really cater to that (busy) personality."

If used properly, Conway explained, users can overcome their fitness blind spots and work to improve those areas instead of continuing to work on aspects of themselves that tend to be in pretty good shape.

"Most of our limitations in mobility, strength, endurance and agility are really covered in this app," he said. "People in Whistler do a particular set of sports, which create a particular set of imbalances and problems.

"A lot of this is super-relevant for really anything you can do."

There were some unexpected setbacks — Conway thought once the app first went live on Oct. 1 that the project was put to bed — but with over 200 videos available on the app, Conway and Co. ran into some issues.

"There were a number of barriers but it's working fine now," he said. "You have to use an independent platform, Vimeo, to host all those videos in order to stream them. Because Android is a different operating platform than iPhone (iOS), there are challenges and that's where our big hiccup was."

The app's hosting service updated about a week after the app was released, throwing everything out of whack. It took Conway about a month to get the content re-aligned. But now, everything is as it should be and the app is available for download for iPhone and Android. The basic app is free, though a pro version with more fitness programs is available for purchase. The Android version is $4.99 while the iPhone version is $5.79 (as a result of Apple's price conversions, Conway explained).

Conway is happy with the initial reception, noting the app has already been downloaded 450 times.

The app came about through a partnership with Whistler Blackcomb, so it received both a financial boost to see it completed and a marketing kick once it was.

"They finally got to see it and they see the scope of this project, which is great," he said. "They look at it as beyond just their work employees, but it's for everybody that spends time on the mountain. It's something they should leverage and get out there with their networks.

"They were keen. They helped me out with the coding of it. It was a far bigger project than I ever could have dreamed of. They've got an image to protect and they wouldn't back anything if they didn't think it was a good project."