For the past month, Julia Mancuso, the former Olympic skier and multiple medal winner, was perched high in the Pyeongchang mountains for NBC, offering her analysis for the millions tuned into the network’s coverage. But in March, Ms. Mancuso will be back on the mountain, offering tips and insight in private ski and snowboard sessions. The secret to unlocking these seemingly exclusive and in-demand insights from the top pros of the sport? It’s through a newly launched app called Stomp Sessions.
Created by former professional extreme sport athletes, Stomp Sessions works like Uber or on-demand delivery apps: simply open it at any of their current locations — ski and snowboard at Squaw Valley, Calif., and skateboard at municipal parks in San Clemente, Truckee and Oceanside, Calif., with more locations and surfing and mountain biking coming soon — see what pros are available for the time desired, click “book,” and then ride or skate with a pro.
For skateboarding, the session options run the gamut of skill levels. Pros like Ryan Sheckler and Chris Cole, former X-Games competitors, as well as locally sponsored skatepark heroes offer both group and private sessions.
For snowboarding and skiing, the options are slightly more limited, and exclude beginners (that’s the domain of mountain-run schools).
There are, however, three tiers of pros offered: “Gold” is for gold medalists at either the Olympics or X-Games or Street League (Mr. Sheckler for skating and Jamie Anderson for snowboarding, for example), silver is athletes who have competed in those contests, and bronze is for athletes with professional sponsorships.
I found myself in need of some help recently after looking down at the pink imprint of my face in the snow in Squaw Valley, evidence of a slightly bloodied nose from a fairly gnarly wipeout. It was my second full day trying out snowboarding after a life of surfing and skiing, and while I had the basics down, I clearly needed a quick lesson, but was too late for the intensive, full-day sessions offered at the ski resort. I wanted a quick blitz of tips and demos from a pro.
Fortunately, Stomp had a tent hawking the app, and so I downloaded it. After quickly making a profile, I booked an hour with Ryan Williams, a former X-Games medalist and one of the company’s founders, who was ready to go within five minutes of my desired start time of 10:20 a.m. Once on the mountain, Mr. Williams started the app’s timer to signal our session had started; the app keeps a running clock, so the lesson can go for any amount of time past one hour, and then the rate is automatically prorated.
He quickly dispensed some handy tips that made my life easier (dig a ledge with your board so you can strap in while standing up), demonstrated proper form and then fixed my carving (“think of the edge more like a butter knife”). It was exactly the kind of lesson I was looking for.
One major bonus was that the app has a built in media-upload function; as Ryan was coaching me, he was also filming through the app. After the session, he uploaded photos and videos, accessible through the app, so I could see what I could correct or improve upon (or, in my case, post an Instagram of me carving and then falling head first).
Mr. Williams told me that the idea for the app came to him while he was working on some of his own tricks at a skatepark, and had a fellow skater ask him for a few tips on landing a 720 rotation.
“It dawned on me, just seeing how many pro athletes were in the park, both the snowboard park and the skateboard park,” he said. “They of course have busy schedules, but if we could create a program similar to Uber or Airbnb where they could manage their own schedule, what an awesome opportunity.”
Getting tips, tricks and guidance from a pro on a world-class ski resort isn’t cheap. My run with Mr. Williams cost me about $250 for an hour, which are comparable with the Squaw private lesson rate of $539 for a half day. Bigger name pros like Chas Guldemond or Ms. Anderson would cost more, around $499 an hour. But the draw of Stomp, in addition to the pros, is flexibility: It let me just choose an hour, and I could start any time I wanted, and go for as long as I wanted, and focus on exactly what I wanted.
Skateboarding lessons and pro sessions offers cheaper and more varied options starting around $80 per hour. And the app is loaded with dozens of tip videos from pros like Mr. Cole showing how to pull off simple jumps and complex flips.
An app like this could seem disruptive to the lucrative ski schools run by world class mountains like Squaw Valley. But the resort has embraced Stomp as a partner through a revenue sharing agreement. (Plus, anyone using Stomp still needs a Squaw Valley lift ticket — pros and amateurs alike.)
For the athletes, the draw is twofold: many view their role as ambassadors of growing sports, and the app allows the opportunity to spread their knowledge. But Stomp also brought many of the top names, like Ms. Anderson, into the company as advisers, so they also have a part ownership stake in its success.
The app is still in its nascent stages. There are two planned weekends left for ski and snowboard pro sessions at Squaw Valley on March 17 and 18 and April 7 and 8. For skateboarding, the lessons around Truckee and Oceanville are fairly regular, with more cities on both coasts set to open soon. Mr. Williams said they require at least six pros to sign up for a location before they flip the switch in the app for a locale.
“I have a way of breaking down tricks in a specific manner and people have always said, ‘hey you should def do something with that skill you have of breaking down tricks into little bitty pieces an explaining them to people’,” said Chris Cole, the pro skateboarder. “And I was just waiting for the right application to do it.”