We're not aware of lost skis being a huge problem, but the folks at Washington state-based company Ski Retriever have obviously faced that problem often enough to go to the trouble of developing a solution. The Ski Retriever is a homing system for lost skis that involves attaching homing tabs to your skis or snowboard and using the radio-based, handheld device to track them down should you misplace them. Less time spent digging fruitlessly through the snow means more time skiing the mountain.
"Have you heard of anyone losing their ski or seen a skier digging for their ski while their friends are lapping them?" Ski Retriever president and founder Anthony Kolb asked us. "I am sure you have heard the saying 'no friends on a powder day'. Well, that was until now. Ski Retriever is your only friend on a powder day."
Ski Retriever is designed to track down buried skis and get you back out there lapping the lifts with your friends. It works simply enough: A homing tag attaches to each of your skis and the radio-based receiver unit picks up their signal when you're looking for them. When you get close to your skis, you'll be prompted with the unit's LED lights and audio cues. Skis found, powder conquest engaged. The system works at distances up to 400 feet (122 m), though conditions like weather, terrain and depth of burial can cut that figure down.
The system could presumably help you find your skis in the event of theft, as well. Of course, given the limited range, that would only work if the thief hadn't gotten too far.
Buried skis could definitely make for a frustrating problem - not only is there an abundance of deep, fresh snow but you don't have your damn skis to ski any of it. Personally, we wonder whether it's a problem that happens very often. We can think of a lot of things that people tend to lose on a regular basis: keys, remote controls and mobile phones come to mind immediately - essentially small, everyday items. What doesn't come to mind is skis. When it comes to tall, expensive gear, you tend to remember exactly where you put it. If your skis fall down in the snow, a little old fashioned digging should suffice.
Regardless of what we think, the makers of Ski Retriever seem to think there's a need for this very device. Kolb claims that the system has had a positive response since being introduced at the SIA Snow Show in January. It's available in around 40 locations concentrated in the American west, with plans of a big expansion for the 2012/2013 ski season. The system retails for US$160 and $98 for additional homing tags to use on additional pairs of skis.