Review: Carv Digital Ski Coach Can Refine Your Runs

Review: Carv Digital Ski Coach Can Refine Your Runs

Given the insatiable appetite for new gear, it’s surprising wearable tech isn’t a bigger deal in winter sports. Various apps and smartwatch settings provide speed, elevation, and distance data from the runway, although nothing we would consider particularly useful, or groundbreaking.

But with its sensor-packed ski boot insole and app, Carv has other ideas, offering the promise of real-time coaching and performance analysis through 72 pressure and motion sensors. As you ski, your technique is broken down into 13 live metrics — based around balance, edging, rotation, and pressure — before the software gives you a performance score (your “Ski: IQ”) and offers tailored hints, tips, and training drills to help you improve.

Developed with input from PSIA (The Professional Ski Instructors of America), CSIA (Canadian Ski Instructors Association), and Interski in the UK, Carv says it has analyzed millions of turns to ensure that it is giving users the best advice while offering tried and tested training drills you would expect to receive from a human instructor. But can it make WIRED staff ski better in just a weekend?

Photograph: Carv

Installing the Carv insoles involves pulling out your ski boot liner and sticking cables down using gaffer tape (included in the box). It’s not the most elegant or straightforward installation, but step-by-step videos are available on the app to make things easier. If you buy through a brick-and-mortar retailer, we would advise getting a pro to fit them.

Once the liners have been replaced and the battery pack clipped onto the outside of the boot, you’re ready to calibrate, which means syncing to the app via Bluetooth and following the few on-screen instructions.

At 3-mm thick, once fitted, the insoles and the battery pack clipped to the outside of the boot didn’t get in the way, and we couldn’t feel them. The entire setup only adds 296 grams to the weight of each boot. Once we added our vitals to the app and put our headphones in, we were ready to ski. Using headphones — in our case AirPod Pros — enables you to get real-time coaching as you ski, and more in-depth tuition on the lifts, without disturbing others. One recommendation here is to use low-profile earbuds, as they can get uncomfortable when worn under a helmet. The best option would be a lid with Bluetooth speakers built in.

The Carv system is based around that Ski: IQ determination, a quantified estimate of your skiing technique that, if you follow the training, should hopefully increase over time. The average skier will be scoring around 100, intermediates will score between 110-125, experts 125-140, and professionals 140+.

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