Comparison of and OpenStreetMap data

I have ask myself for some time now how I could have an estimation of the completeness of OpenStreetMap when it comes to ski pistes. I’m certain that with our more than 100’000 km ofpistes, downhill and cross-country combined, we are the biggest global skipistes database of this type, but what exactly remains to map? I needed something to compare to.

There is this great site called where contributors can upload scans and photos of ski maps from their favorite ski area. They have more than 3000 skiareas listed. These ski areas location are crowd-sourced by their contributors, and offers an open API. So I can certainly find a way to compare this with OpenStreetMap data, no ? Yes, so I did. And many thanks to Russel for making !

The comparison goes both ways, first there is a long list called Pistes missing from

Then we have a map showing Ski areasmissing in

It’s not perfect, because there are OSM ways on one side that are not really(or rarely) grouped as ‘ski resorts’ and single points on the other side. So of course in some case the distance threshold chosen (5km) is maybe not the best, and in some case ski area localization could be improved.

OpenStreetMap ‘ski areas’

No, they are not built-in in the OSM database. There is the tag ‘landuse=wintersports’ to tag ski resorts, but it is seldom used. The rejected relation proposal ‘site=piste’ attracts even less contributions.

So for this comparison they are build in a database like this :

The pistes from OSM are buffered by 500m, then glued in big polygons. Very big polygons (>30km) are split in equal size rectangular chunks ranging from 20km to 40km. This is a bit arbitrary but allows to more or less efficiently separate interconnected ski areas.

In the end, this gives >3500 downhill ski areas, and the same number ofnordic skiing areas.

What have I found ?

First a really good news : both projects contributors can still have alot of fun contributing for a while. excels in the USA, and is better in Europe.

At first glance around 800 ski areas can be found in but not in OpenStreetMap. For, a lot of small and micro downhill resorts are missing (apparently > 1500). For nordic skiing, it’s really worse, but it’s not really the target audience I guess.

Also, OSM seems more complete when it comes to lifts (aerialways) than for ski pistes themselves. I would risk an explanation here. There is a lot of gondolas enthusiasts (,,, …), and I suspect people are mapping lifts systematically. Armchair mapping is also possible for aerialways on the contrary to ski pistes.

How does it helps ?

Both project’s data have open license, but not compatible (CC-BY-SA vsOdBL). So each can be used for the other as an inspiration, but not as a direct data source. Needless to say ski maps uploaded at are for the vast majority copyrighted and not to be used for mapping at OSM.

For contributors, they can use the map produced to spot a ski area in OSM, investigate on the web and find documentation of interest for the project. For OSM contributors, well, as usual : find a place with ski pistes to map, take a train ticket, your gear and GPS, and go !

More also have some more information about its ski areas, for example if they are closed. This could be used to spot places in OSM where some map curating is needed. Also, I spotted on the maps some isolated pistes in OSM that looks strange. In short, some idea for ski-related QA in OSM.

Copyright notice

OpenStreetMap® is open data, licensed under the Open Data Commons OpenDatabase License (ODbL) by the OpenStreetMap Foundation (OSMF). by is licensed under a Creative CommonsAttribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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