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Google’s Street View feature to show Steamboat trails

Contractors working for Google used a snowmobile equipped with panoramic camera equipment to take pictures of the groomed green and blue trails Tuesday at Steamboat Ski Area. The images will appear on the search engine’s Street View feature.
Matt Stensland





Contractors working for Google used a snowmobile equipped with panoramic camera equipment to take pictures of the groomed green and blue trails Tuesday at Steamboat Ski Area. The images will appear on the search engine’s Street View feature.
Matt Stensland

— Users of Google Maps soon will be able to make virtual turns on some of the most popular groomed trails at Steamboat Ski Area.

Using a snowmobile outfitted with a panoramic camera system, a contractor hired by Google mapped the trails from a skier’s perspective Tuesday. A ski area official said the footage was valuable because it will provide another avenue for potential guests to preview the resort.

The imagery will become a part of the Street View feature offered through Google’s mapping program. In recent years, Google has expanded its maps to go beyond images from satellites. The company is using cars, tricycles and now snowmobiles to gather images from ground level.



“We asked them to map all of our (green and blue) groomed trails,” Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. spokeswoman Loryn Kasten said. “If there were people skiing on the slope, they could end up in the final product.”

Members of the two-man crew said they were not allowed to comment on behalf of Google. They also took panoramic shots from the peaks at the ski area. They used a car to document roadways in the mountain area and drove it to the edge of the base by One Steamboat Place to create a seamless transition between the pavement and snow.



A Google spokeswoman did not return a message seeking comment, but Kasten said Google first started photographing ski areas more than a year ago at Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia in preparation for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

“Street View has been so successful that people are looking for additional resources for that experience,” Kasten said.

Kasten said before coming to Steamboat, the mapping crew was in Winter Park. After Steam­­boat, the crew was headed to Crested Butte.

The Vail Daily newspaper reported in spring 2010 that Google was mapping Vail Resorts’ mountains and that the company planned to map ski areas throughout Colorado and Utah.

“This mapping is great for our guests because they get to see and experience the trails and familiarize themselves with the area,” Kasten said. “It provides an enhanced experience for our guests, which is something we’re always trying to do.”

— To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or e-mail mstensland@SteamboatToday.com


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