There are moments on the slopes when skiers wish all eyes were on them. But here’s the next best thing: helmet cameras, which enable skiers to photograph and videotape their own descents, jumps and tracks to show off later.
Helmet cams have become so ubiquitous that they are “almost the norm” at Steamboat Ski & Resort in Steamboat Springs, Colo. “The cameras take bragging rights to the next level,” resort spokeswoman Loryn Kasten said.
Steamboat is even incorporating user content into its own social media and marketing, because the vantage point of the skier or boarder taking video has more impact than the pro cameraman standing at the bottom. The user videos, Kasten says, are a “scrapbook in motion.”
SHARING VIDEO: NOT JUST FOR KIDS
A new teen center at a members-only resort will even have indoor video editing booths and a screening room to play footage and finished films for a crowd.
The teen center is part of a new lodge at The Hermitage Club at Haystack Mountain in Wilmington, Vt. Hermitage owner and founder Jim Barnes was inspired by the interest of his own children — ages 16, 14 and 9 — in using the cams.
But the cameras are not just for kids. Barnes recalled a 40-something who took video of 47 runs during a single day last season.
“Each generation pushes other generations to do it. Gen-Xers are sharing, and Gen-Yers and Z. There’s a push for all of them to use cameras because they’re going to share it,” said Kelly Davis, director of research for the SnowSports Industries America association.
Sharing is the key: The explosion of social media is what’s led to the leap in cameras among skiers and boarders — not to mention surfers, skate boarders, rock climbers and mountain bikers.
“The cameras seem to be driving people to do more adventurous things, explore the back country, so they can share it,” said Davis. “It’s not just ego. But people are aware that they are presenting an image of themselves, and videos of them doing this stuff starts conversations.”
FAMILY TIME AND MEMORIES
Wing Taylor, 42, who lives in North Vancouver, British Columbia, uses his GoPro mostly to record keepsakes of the days when his children are still mastering the mountains, but he’ll also play them on gray fall days to get his son and daughter jazzed for the season.
“I will also share the videos at my kids at work. Who doesn’t like an audience to say, ‘Look at my kids. They’re awesome!’” he said. And with just the right camera angle, the jump of a 6-year-old can look a lot bigger than it really is.
If you’re hanging at the Taylors’ house, you might watch the videos on their flat screen. “We can pick home movies on our Apple TV, and for us, home movies are ski movies.”
The only downside, Taylor says, is the audio. There’s a lot of loud “schussing,” which he typically fixes up by dropping in music on the final cut.
Noah Shelton, 14, of Cary, N.C., says the camera lets him relive happy or proud moments: “You can capture the beauty of the nature around you, but if you’re a freestyle skier or boarder, you’re really doing it for the crazy jumps and flips.”
Sometimes, he’ll move the camera from his helmet to his back or pole to try and get the look on his own face or others around him. “When there’s a good jump, the reaction of other people is priceless.”
Nick Skally, 36, of Portsmouth, N.H., likes to record the tips of his skis popping in and out of the powder. “It’s so much fun to see where you’ve gone,” he said.
Cameras have become so lightweight, low-profile and easy to use that Skally sometimes forgets it’s on his helmet and wears it into the lodge still recording, which makes for some funny outtakes.
But the main reason for the videos, he says, is “to remember the epic runs, the powder dumps, the good times. If the memory fades, the video doesn’t.”