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Ski Resort Ranking

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Is there a site that allows for comparison of average terrain difficulty by resort?  Not a breakdown of the percentage of blacks and Blues and Greens by resort, but a good comparison of the resort as a whole in terms of difficulty.  For example, I think we can all agree that Jackson Hole (as a whole) is more difficult that Ruidoso (as a whole) right?  

 

So is there a definitive or at least semi-definitive list that one could look at for a good comparison of overall difficulty?

post #2 of 8
You could maybe use one of those two sites discussed elsewhere that showed pitch maps.
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the link.  http://3dskimaps.com/ is pretty cool and provides a good starting point, if we can assume that steepness and difficultly are directly related at least to some degree.

 

I understand that difficulty will change based on snow conditions annual snowfall and time of year, but it seems like there should be a rating system to provide an average difficulty rating.  Something like the Slope Rating in Golf:  

 

http://www.usga.org/handicapping/course_ratings/ratings_primer/Course-Rating-Primer/

post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by zavoq View Post
 

Thanks for the link.  http://3dskimaps.com/ is pretty cool and provides a good starting point, if we can assume that steepness and difficultly are directly related at least to some degree.

 

I understand that difficulty will change based on snow conditions annual snowfall and time of year, but it seems like there should be a rating system to provide an average difficulty rating.  Something like the Slope Rating in Golf:  

 

http://www.usga.org/handicapping/course_ratings/ratings_primer/Course-Rating-Primer/

 

There are issues I think with doing that for skiing :

 

1) The main reason it exists for golf courses is not to let you compare courses for yourself - it's to allow for proper handicap application and competition, which doesn't really exists for skiing. So there's no real motivation for an organization to spend the time/money to do it.

 

2) As mentioned, snow conditions determine difficulty a lot, as well as other local variations that change all the time. (bumps? groom? ice? powder? rocks showing? etc.)

 

3) The area you're talking about evaluating for a large resort would be much, much, much more difficult to get a measure of and classify than a relatively neat and tidy golf course. A golf course is ~4.2 miles of holes. A resort with the equivalent of narrow well defined slopes could probably be classified, but that's a small-ish resort. And bowls may present lots of different ratings all at once.

 

That all said, I think some subjective lists assuming typical snow conditions might actually be useful. As you mentioned, JH is pretty well known for being more difficult than some other places. Taos has a similar rep, while Vail seems to have the opposite. I wonder if there is a list like that somewhere?

 

Or in lieu of that, perhaps there could be some standardization in the green/blue/black ratings? Although really, it all works pretty darn well right now given all the variables at play.

post #5 of 8

There is no standardization in the black/blue/green ratings.  Therefore when I write a resort guide I make my own estimate of terrain difficulty, in five gradations that were used on Jackson's trail map in the 1980's.

http://50.87.144.177/~bestsnow/resguide.htm

Examples of my published articles:

http://50.87.144.177/~bestsnow/insdtrak.htm

 

The references above are very useful, but like my guides are far from comprehensive.  You can also find ski areas on Google Earth and get some impression of steepness.  Google Earth is most useful for directions of exposure .

post #6 of 8
Links not working?
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
 1) The main reason it exists for golf courses is not to let you compare courses for yourself - it's to allow for proper handicap application and competition, which doesn't really exists for skiing. So there's no real motivation for an organization to spend the time/money to do it.

Yeah, I get that.  Seems like something we could crowd-source maybe at least.  Perhaps an unofficial consensus vote type thing.  Need to look into this.

 

Quote:
 That all said, I think some subjective lists assuming typical snow conditions might actually be useful. As you mentioned, JH is pretty well known for being more difficult than some other places. Taos has a similar rep, while Vail seems to have the opposite. I wonder if there is a list like that somewhere?

 Yup...Like that.

 

Quote:
 Or in lieu of that, perhaps there could be some standardization in the green/blue/black ratings? Although really, it all works pretty darn well right now given all the variables at play.

This would be helpful and would serve to clarify all of this, although (playing Devil's Advocate) I get why resorts would HATE this.  If there were an international standard you had to abide by, some resorts would have no blacks at all.  This would be more accurate, sure, but it would also kill the tourism to that ski area.  Think of the pride you felt the first time you skied a Black, even if it was in Wisconsin and at most other resorts it would have barely been a Blue.

post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by zavoq View Post
 

...some resorts would have no blacks at all.  This would be more accurate, sure, but it would also kill the tourism to that ski area.  Think of the pride you felt the first time you skied a Black, even if it was in Wisconsin and at most other resorts it would have barely been a Blue.

 

Very true. Although I think the pride could apply equally to just progressing up the levels no matter what they are. I know the only double blacks I've done locally would probably be single blacks (or maybe even steep blues) at some places out west, but knowing that hasn't diminished how happy I am to ski them better and better. 

 

And I was actually thinking that given the wider range of slopes that would create, more grades would be needed. You could do numbers, but the visuals and colors work MUCH better for signage. For instance, maybe a system with added grades in additions to the current ones - maybe green, green/blue, blue, blue/red, red, red/black, black. (The shapes could stay the same for green, blue, and black - and maybe add triangles for red?)

 

That would give you 7 levels, and some places would probably top out in the middle, but I'd be OK with that. Coming up with the criteria for each level could be a nightmare though.

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