WASHINGTON – Bill Regli’s collection of ski trail maps on the Internet was getting out of hand. He had 500 maps that skiers and resorts had asked him to scan in.
“I was really swamped,” said Regli, 28, of Gaithersburg, who developed the page in 1994 while working on his doctorate at the University of Maryland at College Park.
The university eased Regli’s load in February by asking InterVisage Inc., a Silver Spring web-design company, to manage and improve the Ski Map Server.
Regli envisions the home page – rated one of the top 1,001 sites on the Internet by PC Computing magazine – as a future resource for skiers planning their vacations. He said some have already used it with success.
“More people use this than use my thesis work,” Regli said with a laugh.
The site has been averaging 100,000 visits, or “hits,” a month, said Frank Klassen, president of InterVisage. “Yesterday we got 45 hits from Japan,” he said.
The home page sports 250 color ski maps from all over the world and can be found at http://www.skimaps.com.
“People like looking at the ski maps,” Regli said, adding that a mixture of entertainment and curiosity gets viewers hooked. “It seems like a lot of people find that fun.”
Regli said the page will soon be expanded to include additional resources, including ski-area hotels and restaurants.
International ski resorts are among the more exotic elements on the page, such as from Chile, New Zealand, Turkey and even Mt. Hermon, Israel.
“I think our goal,” Regli said, “is to have ski maps from every resort in the world.”
Mt. Hermon has titles in Hebrew, and Klosters resort in Switzerland is subtitled in English, German and Italian.
“It’s truly global,” Regli said.
Regli, who now works in computer-aided design at the National Institute of Science and Technology, said the ski project started in 1994. He began scanning maps he had collected from resorts like Sugarloaf, Maine, into a computer.
“I had 15-20 maps, and I put them up,” said Regli, who sets aside a week to 10 days for ski trips every year.
“Then people started calling me.” He said other on-line skiers gave their thumbs-up.
“I was up at one point to 4,000 readers a day,” he said. “I was shocked.”
Skiers began sending him more and more maps to scan into the web site. “I couldn’t get them scanned in fast enough,” Regli said.
The university, which owns the home page, stepped in. It signed a seven-year contract with InterVisage, allowing the company to use and upgrade the page and possibly benefit from future advertising profits.
The school receives royalties in return.
“We’re really excited about it,” Klassen said.
He said the company has been adding to the site since March 1 and hopes to have 150 more maps on the Internet by the end of April.
Regli continues his personal touch on the home page as a part-time consultant for InterVisage.
He continues to get rave reviews via e-mail.
“Thank you for your server,” wrote Yannick Daucourt and a friend, from Switzerland. “We are two Swiss crazy skiers and we love it.” They suggested two more slopes to add. -30-