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Carv digital ski coach thoughts

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Just spent a week playing with my new Carv digital coach thing. They've been discussed on here before but thought I'd share a few thoughts in case anyone was thinking of trying one.

As you probably know they consist of a pair of insoles with pressure and motion sensors, all connected to transmitter/battery packs that clip to your power straps in manner of boot heaters. These connect to App on phone that measures, tracks, and "coaches" your skiing.

The sensor insoles go in your boots below the liner and on top of boot board. They are thin, but not that thin. I measured them about 1.75mm thick. The claim is they won't effect boot fit for most people. This wasn't the case with my rather snug CEM fitted boots and so I had to remove the canting shim to be able to wear them. Therefore fit is something to consider if you have performance fitted boots. Apart from this hardware seems pretty good all round with good quality cables and connections. Particularly impressed with battery life - seemed to still be on about 75% after 8 hours skiing.

You need audio an headset of some sort, bluetooth obviously much more convenient than wired. Note that despite what the instructions say about "Play" and "Skip" buttons you really don't need them which makes it easier to choose compatible audio.

I'm using the iOS (iPhone) app version. I know there have been teething problems with the Android version so can't comment on that.

I've mostly used the skills development mode which has targets four specific skills: Balance, Edging, Rotary, and outside ski Pressure. For each skill you get a discrete bleep as you complete each turn. Positive sound if turn was "good" or negative if it was not up to scratch. After too many bad turns you might get a little voice saying something like "your inside ski is not parallel", or "you are leaning too far forward", etc.

Complete 16 good turns out of your last 20 and you get told your moving to next level where your skiing is judged more strictly. There are 20 levels for each skill. Generally getting to level 5 was easy, and I didn't really need to try. Up to level 15 needed lots of concentration and effort. Above 15 it got noticeably harder still. As I understand it, at the higher levels the skills are judged more widely, so on the Edging skill you don't just need higher edge angles, you also need good balance, pressure etc. By end of week I was hitting level 17-19 across the board. For context I'm a decent intermediate skier, far from being an expert.

The Carv app also tracks your ski day in manner similar to SkiTracks (and other) apps. You can then click on each run and check the edge angles, balance, pressure etc for that particular run.

I experienced a couple of App crashes during week, generally when pressing "Stop" on app when changing to a different skill mode etc. Work round was to wait a couple of seconds after pressing stop before pressing start again - so nothing that spoilt my fun. Phone battery usage very good. I ended day on about 35% battery after 8 hours skiing, if anything its better than the SkiTracks app.

Worth £300? I spent the entire last day in Edging skill mode (with level fixed at an achievable 16) enjoying the positive feedback of the bleep for 95% of my turns. And every time I went through a turn I knew I'd messed up I'd dreading being told I was a bad boy! To me this continuous feedback is worth the £300 in itself (spread across multiple weeks of use).

By the end of the week my skiing was noticeably improved. The biggest change being much more dynamic up/down movement. Interestingly this isn't one of the metrics the app tracks, but the movement came naturally as what was needed to get the "good" turns. Whenever I got lazy and stopped moving properly I'd get the negative bleeps, so it forced me to put the effort in. I had some lessons during week and unprompted the instructor commented how much better my movement was on the last day.

I've read a little about the Beta version of the App and it seems to have some pretty ambitious upgrades. Such as the ability to video a skier from App on one phone, then overlay the edging, pressure, etc traces from a second Phone. Also adds extra skills and drills such as "Thousand steps", "Pivot slips" , "Fast turns challenge", "Carving leaper turn training", whatever these mean.

My only concern would be can Carv actually deliver on this very ambitious software upgrade? Especially as they are a fairly small team and now cross platform with Android which has proved a challenge. The sensors do a great job of recording a vast amount of accurate data, but the possibilities for analysing, interpreting, and presenting this are almost limitless. I would hope development team don't get too carried away with dozens of new features at the expense of bullet proof reliability - can't be messing with flakey software when I'm supposed to be on holiday!

Any questions just ask.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Way too busy enjoying my skiing and the mountain views to be arsed with a computer yapping and beeping at me.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
jirac18 wrote:
Way too busy enjoying my skiing and the mountain views to be arsed with a computer yapping and beeping at me.

Fair comment, each to their own!
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My experience is far from bullet proof reliability.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
When you say up/down movement,I would have thought that this is something you want to minimise,not encourage.
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@kerb, thanks for the feedback that's really interesting really appreciate the in-depth review. I have them too and also found them very tight in my boots, my boots have actually been reheated with spacers in to make them more comfortable. Now that's done they're fine.

You obviously put a lot of time into the training with them, is this something you did on your own or skiing with others ? When I go with my friends skiing its very much get from A to B as quick as possibly and doing drills in not something they'd do. Were you able to use them with others ? Last year I used them but purely on the freeski setting, the first year the drills were frustrating as they auto jumped and levelled up too quickly, that's all sorted now though.

My wife has a set too, although too uncomfortable last year so if we get away in April (fingers crossed) then we'll have time then.

Just wished they worked in Hemel as I'm there all the time !
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
jimmjimm wrote:
When you say up/down movement,I would have thought that this is something you want to minimise,not encourage.

Probably wrong description then. I guess my instructor meant a less static, more dynamic, bending of the knees kind of thing. He wasn't a native English speaker.


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Wed 4-03-20 15:54; edited 1 time in total
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
djf wrote:
@kerbYou obviously put a lot of time into the training with them, is this something you did on your own or skiing with others ? When I go with my friends skiing its very much get from A to B as quick as possibly and doing drills in not something they'd do. Were you able to use them with others ? Last year I used them but purely on the freeski setting, the first year the drills were frustrating as they auto jumped and levelled up too quickly, that's all sorted now though.

I used the free ski mode some of the time, but found getting feedback on the lift was just too late to relate to how I'd been skiing. The Drill's (and Monitors) provided the immediate feedback you just can't get any other way. Rate of leveling up seemed OK. You can now turn this off and select the level you want to stick at - useful when I only wanted gentle reminders to ski properly rather than actively working on a drill.

Found the drills/monitors worked just fine skiing with other people. Had volume down very low and it didn't interfere with any social aspects of skiing. Sometimes annoying when I was right about to hit the turn count to level up and the group stops - breaking my rhythm. But not really a problem.

djf wrote:
Just wished they worked in Hemel as I'm there all the time !

Yes its a shame about that, but assume they rely on GPS to know if you are actually moving. I suspect they could do an Indoor mode with some limitations inferring speed and position from the other sensors, but again this would be yet another complication to the software which I reckon they should avoid.
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Someone probably needs to do a more scientific testing - like doing an assessment before and after a week on the carves compared to someone who just skied for a week around the pistes. Or entering some timed competitions to see if there is a an improvement compared to other people spending the same time on snow. Something like that.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
I've been using them since January, or not, as much of the time there have been connection issues with my Android phone.
The app problems have gradually been resolved.
My experience has been that, for me because of the conditions, allied with my intermediate level, a lot of the time I've had to pick my way down slopes without really "carving". I'm at the stage where tricky, bumpy, slushy, mogully stuff I can only negotiate by jump turning and traversing. However, today the slopes were good enough (for me) to ski the whole length in sweeping, edgy turns.....Carv Woman was very pleased with me


Last edited by Ski the Net with snowHeads on Sat 28-03-20 12:03; edited 1 time in total
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Oops, and there goes the rest of my post - what a fff waste of time!!!
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Back to Carv... I've benefited from having them, more so when the conditions were good enough for me, with my lack of confidence on uneven surfaces, to let my skis go and add power.
I like the technical aspect of the feedback - it's more helpful than a ski (group) instructor skiing off down the slope saying "copy me".
Also, as alluded to above, the social/skiing issue isn't being detracted from as I spend many weeks away and mostly ski solo - a mates week away and I'd not be bothering with Carv.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
davidof wrote:
Someone probably needs to do a more scientific testing - like doing an assessment before and after a week on the carves compared to someone who just skied for a week around the pistes. Or entering some timed competitions to see if there is a an improvement compared to other people spending the same time on snow. Something like that.

True, but nigh on impossible to get meaningful results without an unfeasibly large sample size.

I'm not suggesting they are a panacea. Obviously I like them and by my own judgement my technique improved significantly during the trip. Whether this is correct or not could be argued, but what cannot be disputed is that they enhanced my enjoyment of the week.

I've got another week coming up and it will be interesting to see what I think of them after the novelty has worn off. I'll still be within the 30 day no quibble refund period so sending them back is always an option if I've had enough!
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Thanks both.@kerb, That’s encouraging to know about other people and that it can work. I’m not too worried about volume but being able to complete some lesson programs in a social situation is interesting. I’ve had them for 2 seasons but limited use due to boot fitting and then thinking about solo skiing as a main req.

I’ve had other issues when freeskiing whereby my runs were start / stop so it would only estimate on the runs.

My friends have named the nice lady “Catherine” so she’s coming away on the lads holiday with me this year. Very Happy

Ps.

Just to add my view on vs instructors. I don’t think for a minute it would replace a coach/quality instructor. I think it takes a person to look and say “in the situation you’re in, exhibiting these reactions you should adjust ..... to help correct this issue.” However, having something that encourages you to remember is very helpful. Even with all the initial fit issues I had I’d buy them again. Oh and I recently had a cable issue and customer service was excellent.

My only other gripe is unplugging the headphones, forgetting about the app and then sitting down on the chair lift and then frantically trying to stop Catherine saying “Oh dear, your edge angle has reduced”
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Re the boot fitting.
We both (husband has Carv too) had new boots fitted at Rivington Alpine just before buying Carv.
He has had no issues at all. I needed to buy thinner socks.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
kerb wrote:

True, but nigh on impossible to get meaningful results without an unfeasibly large sample size.


I'm probably being unrealistic. I like the overall concept, be interesting to see some reviews from ski instructors like this, although independent of the Carv site. Will it teach me to do a BASI snowplow though ? Happy


http://youtube.com/v/Ed3OOiqF-n4
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
davidof wrote:
I like the overall concept, be interesting to see some reviews from ski instructors like this, although independent of the Carv site. Will it teach me to do a BASI snowplow though ? Happy

Yep, always have to take these branded reviews with a rather large pinch of salt. Indeed any review is potentially dubious.

Even though they didn't give me a free unit (open to offers if Carv want to PM me...), I'm probably a little biased because I subconsciously want to justify my rather extravagant purchase.

Regarding BASI snowplough: My guess is they could do a drill for exactly this. The edge angles, pressure, steady speed etc could all be measured and judged. But they're not going to, as it would be a pretty niche requirement, and also no fun whatsoever Happy


Last edited by Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person on Thu 5-03-20 19:41; edited 1 time in total
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
A point of comparison; how many hours of private lessons would £300 buy?

In my experience the privates would give a more rounded feedback, eg arm and shoulder movement, but the Carv would still be there next season when I forgot what my instructor said.
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 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
Carvs will give you upper body instruction too.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Orange200 wrote:
A point of comparison; how many hours of private lessons would £300 buy?.

I guess maybe three two hour sessions?

I don't see it as a replacement for a real instructor, just an adjutant. Last trip I joined a group lesson for couple of days and used the Carv for most of it - even when doing the instructor's exercises. It was interesting to try to keep scoring "good" turns whilst juggling ski poles or whatever.

I'll still have the odd private lesson, and, you never know, probably bored of the Carv after a season or two anyway!
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 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
...so you'll sell it on for 150, thus amortizing the cost?!
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Looks pretty good @kerb, thanks for the review. Definitely more interested in it now... just thinking if I can justify the cost... Shocked Oops I just checked the sizing, my Cinderella boots are too small to fit even the smallest size! NehNeh Laughing I guess it'll just have to be more instructor lessons for me then! rolling eyes snowHead


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Thu 5-03-20 19:20; edited 1 time in total
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Like power meters there is a potential hire market.
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Hey all,

Great to see the discussion.

+1 for this
Quote:
I don't see it as a replacement for a real instructor, just an adjutant. Last trip I joined a group lesson for couple of days and used the Carv for most of it - even when doing the instructor's exercises. It was interesting to try to keep scoring "good" turns whilst juggling ski poles or whatever.

Our general direction is to bring instructors into our development and find great ways to overlap with instructors in their coaching rather than try to act as a replacement - both systems have their strengths!

Each season we try to push the app forwards in leaps, our aim is that you'll continue to get value from your Carv season after season. Having said that, our main focus for the coming season is to add stability to the build (e.g. for android) and refine the video coaching and interactive drills we've been working on this winter (showing you more detail for how to improve as well as what to improve). In our latest update, we've also used the 20+ million turns in our database to optimise the Ski:IQ algorithm and have found ways to significantly improve the scoring of turns (using instructor data to help qualify this).

As a small company with big ambitions to help the world ski better, we're very keen to take your feedback on board, so keep chatting and we'll be listening and trying to improve each year.

Have a great summer everyone
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Now I get your cunning plan... to become THE targeting company for the ski industry.

Even if you anonymise all the data, just sending people to videos specific to their skiing needs and wants provides the perfect opportunity for sponsorship deals, on page advertising and, through the use of pixel tracking, allows the advertising industry to know exactly who they should be showing specific ski related adverts to.

You guys could make millions!
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
haha, nice ideas! we're locked in on optimising the app experience at the mo so haven't got plans to 'zuckerberg' Carv yet - but you're more than welcome to keep an eye out for any future crowdfunding rounds Wink
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And when you can afford to, please don’t forget to design Carv for pixie boots sized 21.5 Mondo and under. I spoke to one of your team members about it... snowHead
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