Have you ever tried making a call from your mobile phone when skiing? In my experience, it's quite an ordeal. Since outside pockets don't offer enough protection I stash my phone in the inside pocket, which requires me to unzip my jacket to get it out. I usually end up unzipping my jacket on the lift when the windchill is worse. It is not very easy to grab a little zipper with big gloves or mittens. Now my phone is out. I touch the screen, nothing happens. Right, the touchscreen only likes bare fingers because it needs to sense the bioelectricity of your finger tips. In addition to the touchscreen my BlackBerry has a trackpad which works with gloves or through a Ziploc bag. I frequently use a Ziploc bag to keep the moisture away. In this case, a BlackBerry is more usable than an iPhone.
"Talking on the phone" usually resorts to leaving, listening, and reading messages because you cannot hear ringing when skiing. That is probably a good thing because who wants to hear ringing while enjoying the company of fluffy snow and a tree run? So, no I don't want a louder ringer. What I probably need is an easy way to tell my buddies [I am still on the lift]/[I am in the lodge]/[Ready to go home]/[Great snow at Brand-x]. Some might suggest wearing a head set. Anything inside my ears is not my cup of tea; I am in nature, the only thing I want to hear is the sounds of skies shredding the snow, the wind, and the birds, and maybe an occasional "woohoo" because the snow is so deep.
Cameras and photos
Unless we are expecting some spectacular views, we very rarely bring our camera because it's big and it's a hassle to use it while skiing. So we use our phones. Just like with making phone calls, it takes too long to take a picture with your phonw (unzip jacket, take off gloves, zip jacket up if it's cold, take the phone out of the Ziploc bag, navigate to the camera app, try to click the right button to take a picture). Usually I am taking picture on a ski run and not from a lift, so my goal is to take a quick picture and continue skiing (otherwise my husband will be out of sight). And who wants to wait on a nice ski day! As they say, "no friends on a powder day."
"Gaposis" between the sleeve and gloves...
I get cold really fast so any gap in my clothing has to be sealed or I have to stop often and adjust my clothing. For some reason gloves and mittens never go high enough to cover my jacket sleeve without slipping down, creating a door for the cold wind. Last year I discovered wrist warmers; that is a must-have item on my ski clothing list. It does add a little of bit of bulk inside, but it's worth it. And it helps when using your phone or eating a energy bar without gloves; at least only your fingers freeze and not your whole hand.
I am short so the restraining bar on chairlifts never hits my head when someone puts it down without warning. It's a different story for my tall husband-ski-bum Erik, but luckily his helmet mostly protects him from lift bar attacks. Whoever designed these bars didn't account for extra body height due to helmets.
The two person High-Campbell lift (aka elbow cracker) has an angry pole in the middle that hits you pretty hard if you don't face it when the lift approaches. And when it comes to T-Bars and Platter lifts... I'll leave it up to the guys to describe the intricacies and dangers associated with those designs.
Road, snow, and wind conditions
Driving to Crystal takes about two hours from Seattle so before leaving the house, we check the conditions to avoid disappointment. Crystal's website is good but in some cases Facebook turns out to be more up to date. A few weeks ago we had a big snow storm and not to miss an opportunity to bathe in fresh powder, we took a day off and drove to Crystal. Lower elevations on the way were hit hard by strong ice rain and there were many fallen trees. When we got to Enumclaw (after an hour drive) and stopped for coffee, it turned out that the remaining road leading to Crystal was closed due to falling trees blocking the road. Crystal's site didn't have this information; most information came from skiers posting on Crystal's Facebook wall. A bit disappointed, we drove back to Seattle. The road to Crystal only reopened the next day. It would be nice to get notifications about events that could make skiing better or worse (new snow, ice, lift closure (happens due to to strong winds), road closures, no place to park by the resort).
To conclude, here are my ski-bum user goals and design elements that could make a skier happier:
1. Staying in touch with ski buddies (to meet during lunch, before going home, to ski a run together).
2. Stay informed about road, snow, and lift conditions.
3. Taking pictures quickly without interruptions to my skiing flow.
4. Staying warm and safe.
1. Touch screen that can be used wearing gloves.
2. Ability to switch phone to a ski mode that would change the screen to showing only the essential controls e.g. Call, Ski lift status, Location Check In, Camera.
3. Big buttons that could be easily pressed wearing gloves.
4. Critical notifications that can impact skiing (e.g. road closed, your favorite lift opened)
5. Protective, padded, and sealed outside jacket pockets with big zippers to store a phone.
6. A phone that won't be ruined in wet conditions.
6. Tall gloves and mittens that go a few inches above the wrist.
7. Taller lift bars, soft seats (hot cocoa would be nice too :)), and no middle pole.