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Google adding ski trails, lifts to mapping program

Published February 14, 2013 10:45 am

Technology • Four Utah resorts are among first to have their slopes mapped.
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Four Utah resorts are part of Google's initial foray into making maps of ski area trails and lifts available online and through smart phones.

Brighton, Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort and Snowbasin are among 38 North American resorts whose runs and lifts are displayed in color on the search engine's free mapping site. More resorts are likely to be added to the list soon.

"Power up Google Maps on your Android device or iPhone and the mountain information you need is right there," said Ryan Poscharsky, the strategic partner manager for Google Maps. "Blue, green and black runs are shown as solid colored lines and ski lifts are red, dotted lines."

Google spokeswoman Sierra Lovelace said her company's mapping team has several ski enthusiasts who, in brainstorming sessions, "had the idea to include this kind of data in Google Maps. It snowballed from there, so to speak."

Squaw Valley, which is fairly close to Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., was one of the first resorts involved. Deer Valley also was an early participant, agreeing two years ago to let Google film "street view imagery" of its runs. Those images have been enhanced with the mapping data added this winter.

"It's more user friendly, seeing the color-coded runs," said Deer Valley spokeswoman Emily Summers.

Added Brighton spokesman Jared Winkler: "It's cool to have … another tool for the people. You can drop a pin on your favorite run and you can share that with your friends. That kind of makes it more fun. It will help people who do use Google maps to have more of an experience."

Ski Utah, marketing arm for the state's 14 resorts, views the maps as an accessory that will help lure more skiers and snowboarders to Utah's slopes. About 4 million people ski each year in Utah.

"So many people use smart phones these days, this helps us reach a broader audience that we maybe didn't have access to before through these really cool programs," said Ski Utah spokeswoman Susie English. "You can be sitting in New York City and have a bird's-eye view of the runs and start planning your trip."

Alternately, skiers can be back home after a trip and show friends — on a phone — where they made turns and what the terrain looked like. "It's kind of good for bragging rights," she added. "People will say, 'Look at this run I skied. It was a double black diamond and here you can see it on Google maps.' That will be a big way that it's used."

Lovelace said Google is expanding the program to include more resort maps. "We want to make it available to anyone in the world who may travel to a resort and want access to maps on the go."

mikeg@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sltribmikeg