Online Ski Magazine Adds Free Snow Alerts via SMS to Its List of Information Services

By AlpineZone News |
Dec 16 2004 - 01:08 PM

ALBANY, NY ??” Internet ski-zine First Tracks!! Online ( announced this week the addition of free “Powderhound Snow Alerts” to its list of user services. Skiers and snowboarders may choose to receive, free of charge, SMS text messages direct to their mobile phones, alerting them to new snowfall at up to 478 ski and snowboard resorts across the United States and Canada. Users without cell phones may choose to have the alerts delivered to any email address instead.

“We’re excited to be able to let folks know where the snow falls, when the snow falls, wherever they are,” says First Tracks!! Online Ski Magazine Editor and Publisher, Marc Guido. “We’ve forged a strategic partnership with technology provider rubberSNOW to let our readers ride the cutting edge of snow condition reporting.”

By visiting, skiers and riders first choose their favorite mountain resorts across North America, then fully customize their alert settings. Users may choose to receive an alert only after an amount of snow falls that they themselves select. Users may also choose quiet times, delivery days and times, and even the maximum number of messages to receive daily. As an added bonus provided by First Tracks!! Online, users may even choose to receive important breaking Eastern Ski Resort News, Western Ski Resort News, World Cup Alpine Skiing and/or World Cup Snowboard news via its Powderhound alert system as well. Perhaps best of all, like all of First Tracks!! Online Ski Magazine’s content, the service is provided free of charge to its users.

“Technology has finally developed to the point that we can let our magazine’s readers know that a foot of snow has fallen at their favorite mountain, no matter where they are,” says Guido. “All they need to do is throw their gear into the car and go!”

Guido promises that user information, including cell phone numbers and email addresses, will be held in the strictest of confidence. “We’ve built our reputation on integrity, and we’re not about to destroy that now,” Guido says. “First Tracks!! Online and rubberSNOW are committed to it. We promise not to ever disclose the personal information of our users, and we won’t rent, sell or trade cell phone numbers. Folks are safe with us.”

The Powderhound Snow Alert service’s iron-clad privacy policy is provided online for review at the time of signup.

Powderhound Snow Alerts are but a fraction of the media content offered to First Tracks!! Online Ski Magazine’s readers. Started in a spare bedroom in Guido’s Upstate New York home in 1994, First Tracks!! Online has now grown to over 13,000 web pages on its site. Reader traffic peaks at over 3 million page hits monthly.

“It’s been a wild ride,like a snowball rolling down a hill,” Guido jokes. “We were around at the birth of the World Wide Web, even before the widespread deployment of graphical Internet browsers. Back then, everything was visible in plain text only, and First Tracks!! Online was little more than a hobby site. Never in our wildest dreams did we envision the success that our magazine would achieve!”

First Tracks!! Online has eschewed the restraints inherent to a print publication, and functions entirely as an online periodical. Readers browsing will find up-to-the-minute Ski and Snowboard News, resort features, a vibrant community forum for users, streaming online ski and snowboard videos, equipment reviews, and even technique tips to get the most out of skiing and snowboarding. Snow condition information is augmented by a real-time weather data center and insight from First Tracks!! Online’s own staff weather forecaster, Scott Braaten. The site’s content is entirely supported by advertisers, allowing snow junkies to get their fix 12 months a year free of charge.

Guido, however, is never satisfied with the status quo. “If there’s something else that adds value to our users, we’ll do it,” he says. “Our staffers are all passionate skiers and riders, so we just ask ourselves, ‘What would we want to know?'”