How to track skiing with your Garmin sports watch

Its the time of the year when many of us our donning our ski clothes and heading off to the slopes. A recent Club Med’s report says that this year, nearly three quarters of skiers in America will take at least one piece of wearable tech to the slopes with them. Winter sports have definitely become a growing area for fitness technology.

Essential reading: Hit the slopes with this connected tech

If you are the proud owner of a Garmin sports watch, you’ll be happy to know that its very easy to track your performance on the slopes. This is thanks to a dedicated sports profile for skiing/snow boarding. You can find it on the Fenix line of watches, Forerunner 935, Vivoactive 3 and a number of other wearables.

And when I say its simple to use, I’m not kidding. All that is required from you is that you activate the sports profile in the morning and leave it running. The watch will record the details of each skiing or snowboarding run using the auto run feature.

The way this works is based on your movement. When you start moving downhill the watch will start the timer. Your current run will end when you stop moving downhill. It also auto-pauses when you take well deserved breather for lunch.

This means you can review the last run (time, distance, vertical drop, maximum speed, average speed), and average of all runs in the session on the watch while you are sitting comfortably on the charlift. At the end of the day, simply switch off the ski/board mode to end the workout.

The Garmin Connect app and website dashboard are a repository for more detailed data. Here you can view a summary of your speed, distance, vertical drop and more.

Details of each run are displayed including the time, distance, average speed and more. This includes non-ski related data such as your heart rate and training effect.

In my testing over the past two days I found that all of this works flawlessly, but I did notice that sometimes the watch is a bit generous when it comes to tracking your maximum speed. On one occasion on the first day it said I went over 80 kilometres per hour, on the second day it said I went 108.4. In reality my maximum speed is in the 60s, so nowhere near those levels. Luckily incorrect readings do not happen too often – I would estimate perhaps on one run out of twenty. Its not too difficult to edit the incorrect value in the app or website dashboard (for max daily speed), but the reading will remain in the charts.

The only other issue you might have is when a ski lift has to go down before going up. The watch may log a descent in that case.

Finally you also get a detailed map overlaid with details for each run, which makes for neat viewing in satellite mode. Because most ski resorts now show their runs and lifts in Google Maps, where you’ve been is overlaid on the site’s info. Finally, a summary is also displayed for quick reading on your dashboard.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

6 thoughts on “How to track skiing with your Garmin sports watch

  • After a week skiing and trying different ways to get my vivoactive 3 to track my skiing the best I managed was to have it plot one lift ride on a map and record what looks like my run from that lift to the start of the trail, a decent of 28m! Very frustrating.

    Most times it would log a single run but for no more than a few seconds with no data recorded against it. Having the screen locked or unlocked after starting ski mode seemed to have little impact on results and as mentioned above, on just one occasion it seemed to log anything at all.

    • Sorry to hear that, maybe it was to do with a weak GPS signal. I wrote the above article with a Forerunner 935 strapped to my wrist. It had no trouble picking up on my ski runs.

  • It would be a great article if you actually showed how to enable the ski mode. You have to add it, Start -> Add -> Ski.

  • lol, you are not wrong!

  • Hvala ti Marko na ovom clanku. Ja imam Garmine Fenix 5x i mislio sam da moram svaki put da pauziram aktivnost prilikom penjanja zicarom, sto bi bilo veliko cimanje. Raduje me sto je Garmin dovoljno “pametan” da meri samo vreme kada se spustam niz stazu.

    Veliki pozdrav!

    • Drago mi je da si nasao sajt i da ti je bio od koristi! Uzivaj na skijanju! 🙂


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