In their ongoing effort to make their Maps application ‘the world’s most comprehensive, accurate and usable map,’ Google has virtually mapped out three-dimensional imagery along the ski runs at Panorama Mountain Village and Fairmont Hot Springs Resort.
“We’ve ventured to far flung places (like Cambridge Bay, Nunavut), we’ve gone under water in the Great Barrier Reef, and, yes, we’ve ventured down ski hills around the globe, helping users navigate to the nearest chairlift or the chalet,” communications and public affairs officer Aaron Brindle told The Echo .
“Google Maps offers a comprehensive, accurate and easy way to find the best route down the hill. We used satellite imagery and geodata to plot the actual runs.”
Panorama Mountain Village and Fairmont Hot Springs Resort are two of only five ski resorts in Canada to offer the feature. Anybody interested in taking a 3D tour of the runs at either resort can do so on the Google Maps webpage.
By dragging the orange avatar (found above the zoom bar on the left hand side of the screen) over the slopes, blue lines will appear over each run. Placing the avatar over any run will transform the broswer’s view from a two-dimensional map layout into a three-dimensional alpine experience.
As an extension to the Street View feature, Google’s new feature allows users to travel both directions through the runs and gives the option to change direction at crossroads. From any set point, the view can rotate to offer 360 degree vision.
Operators from the regional ski hills were more than happy to accommodate Google staff at their resorts.
“We were very excited about the opportunity of having our mountain mapped by google street view,” Panorama Marketing Coordinator Jamie Hurschler said to The Echo. “For any guest who is looking to come out to Panorama can check out the different runs that are on our mountain before they come to the resort.”
Without any financial exchange, both organizations were keen to work together.
“Last year the Google Street View team called us at Panorama and they said they were going to be in the area mapping the different resorts,” Hurschler said.
The Street View team was at Panorama on February 13, 2012 with a specially-equipped snowmobile.
Once the snowmobile recorded the runs, Hurschler was asked to provide Google with a trail map to properly match the names.
“They transferred names of the runs and the ability of the run, be it the green circle or blue square or black diamond, and they transferred that information into the data they captured, because the data they captured also provided the GPS coordinates as the machine was driving around the mountain,” he said.
A Panorama snowmaker operated the camera-mounted snowmobile to utilize the local staff member’s knowledge of the mountain.
“They know the mountain better and where they should be going and shouldn’t be going on a snowmobile,” he said.
But there were limits to the winter vehicle.
“We didn’t trace all the runs in full because a snowmobile obviously can’t go up and down a black diamond run, but any of the runs that we could do, the snowmobile drove up and down the middle of the runs all over the mountain, and those are the ones that later got transferred on street google maps.”
The new feature can be used for free through www.maps.google.ca.
“We were very fortunate and we were absolutely thrilled to have the google team here at Panorama and to be able to now offer that to our guests as a value added experience.”
Hurschler says the Street View team also mapped out the Nordic trails, but has yet to offer the tour online.