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Gadget Tracks Skiers by Satellite

December 14, 1998

VAIL, Colo. (AP) _ Take it to Russia and you might get arrested for spying. Take it up a chairlift here, and you’ll know exactly where you skied, how far and how fast.

Skiers who must have the latest gadget can try the SportsTracker, which follows a skier’s progress by using the Global Positioning System, or GPS, a network of orbiting satellites developed by the U.S. military.

Skiers can rent a lightweight GPS receiver the size of a pack of cigarettes, turn it in at the end of the day and get a map of the mountain with colored lines showing where they skied and how fast. It costs $27 a day.

Not bad for indisputable bragging rights, said Jeff Cricco, 24. ``People want to say, `This is where I skied, this is my exact line _ and show it off.‴

The gadget was created by former chef and ski bum James ``Hoot″ Gibson, who hopes it will catch on with mountain bikers, hikers, even golfers. Last year, an American technician using GPS equipment to install a cellular phone system in Russia was arrested on espionage charges. He was later released.

Gibson said the device eventually could be used by parents to keep track of their children while they ski, and he plans to add a 911 button allowing skiers to signal if they are in trouble so authorities can locate them instantly.

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