About 3 years ago, I discovered this little known company that was promoting its product on Kickstarter. They called it CARV and the idea was to make a device that could ultimately become a ski instructor in your pocket.
I became an early adopter and eventually was asked by one of the founders and developers, Jamie Grant to provide feedback to them on what I thought of the concept. This turned into a number of long conversations by Skype and completing well orchestrated questionnaires that Jamie had developed in order to solicit what people in the ski instruction business thought was important and should ultimately be a part of the final product.
Fast forward to 2021 and to the newest iteration, which in my opinion, has finally taken the necessary steps to reach prime time and something that even the neophyte skier can benefit from.
So what is it exactly? They are referring to it as a ski instructor in your pocket and that in a nutshell, is a fairly accurate description of what it is. Will it put ski instructors out of business? Hardly, and not anytime soon but what it does do is put you and mainline instruction on the same page (all of a sudden.) So much of ski instruction historically has been hidden in the caverns of instructors manuals, many outdated by the time they were in print and others lost in translation from various languages and none of it could ever offer a way to provide measurable instant metrics that a person could use to compare themselves against.
From a hardware perspective, under the hood ie. your boot liner, there's a pressure sensor insert that's compatible with custom ski boots and insoles that's attached to a tracker which is designed to pickup the smallest differences in movement that is measured in 4 different ways. The tracker also houses the battery that keeps it running and the Bluetooth transmitter that connects everything to your smartphone and the CARV App. With me so far?
This year, the whole package got a big software update that has made it a way more usable and a valuable tool for everyone from the intermediate skier on up allowing any skier to get measurable feedback on the essential elements of skiing with instant metrics on your Balance, Edging, Rotary & Pressure. Your input is compared with data from some of the best instructors in the world; how good is that?
There are various ways to get the feedback ranging from analyzing your results at the end of the day or even after each run by looking at your device after your run or day to hooking up headphones so that you can instantly hear the feedback on any and all of the metrics. Not only that, there are mini tutorials on all the measurable components that gives you the WHY it is important to be improving your effort until you're scoring within the target zones. I'm wondering if the next thing will be a HUD or heads up display reading out your metrics in front of you as you're skiing.
I've had people ask to me "does this work off piste?" The official word is that CARV isn't optimized for off piste as the metric is as accurate as the surface you're skiing on so in soft snow it's hard to determine the quality of the info that comes back from your efforts. There are 4 different modes that you can use, Free Skiing, Training, Challenge & Monitor. I have tried the Training mode off piste and in snow covered bumps and what I've noticed is the scores are lower for sure than on piste but I do like using the training mode off piste for the immediate feedback as it forced me to go after a reading instead of waiting for the pressure to build up which is a common way to ski in powder when you can't see whats under the schnee and you tend to wait for something to happen and then react accordingly. So I think I am getting something useful out of skiing with them off piste as well.
The big question is this worth the investment in time and money to you? For starters, analyze your your own degree of curiosity as that should go a long way to providing the answer. I know that the current product is well tested for durability and they also have great customer service which is important. If you're reading this and are a member of the SST Program and if you'd like to try them out here in Whistler, you're in luck as one of our instructors has a couple of pairs that are available for a trial run.
To give them a whirl, send me a request by email and I'll get you linked up.
Full Disclosure: I am not receiving any form of compensation from CARV other than they have provided me with three generations of the product since inception when the early models of the hardware broke down and needed replacement. The current hardware is working flawlessly.