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How long did it take you to ski blue runs? [A Beginner Zone Thread]

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

I'm going to be taking a ski trip this spring break to Winter Park in Colorado. I have a pass that'd valid for 4 days, which is what I've booked my hotel based on. I also booked some lessons too of course. I've skiied before, but not since I was still in elementary school about 15 years ago (I was too afraid of falling as a kid, and after 5th grade I sadly moved away from a place that has snow). I know what the snowplow turn is and I know that you can only use it up to a point beyond which you HAVE to know how to parallel turn - and of course I've booked some all-important lessons.

 

A lot of sites seem to recommend that you spend a minimum of 3 days on the bunny slopes...but then I've heard the time to progress really varies a lot from person to person. So, how long did it take you to progress to the blue slopes? Did you ski them on your first ski trip? If so, did you lesson your way into them? Were you dragged down one by your impatient friends? Maybe you ended up on one accidentally?

 

I won't be TOO disappointed if I can still only do greens by Day 4, but I've seen some videos of the top of the scenic 3,100' vertical blue-green Village Way run and the view looks AMAZING from up there...but looking at the map you have to ski ~900' vertical of blue runs to get to the lift that services that part of the mountain.

post #2 of 24
IMHO the greatest learning comes from trying something you can't do...within reason of course

So by all means take a lesson and be sure to get you legs under you and definitely challenge yourself to a blue run or two
post #3 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by JFrombaugh View Post
 

I'm going to be taking a ski trip this spring break to Winter Park in Colorado. I have a pass that'd valid for 4 days, which is what I've booked my hotel based on. I also booked some lessons too of course. I've skiied before, but not since I was still in elementary school about 15 years ago (I was too afraid of falling as a kid, and after 5th grade I sadly moved away from a place that has snow). I know what the snowplow turn is and I know that you can only use it up to a point beyond which you HAVE to know how to parallel turn - and of course I've booked some all-important lessons.

 

A lot of sites seem to recommend that you spend a minimum of 3 days on the bunny slopes...but then I've heard the time to progress really varies a lot from person to person. So, how long did it take you to progress to the blue slopes? Did you ski them on your first ski trip? If so, did you lesson your way into them? Were you dragged down one by your impatient friends? Maybe you ended up on one accidentally?

 

I won't be TOO disappointed if I can still only do greens by Day 4, but I've seen some videos of the top of the scenic 3,100' vertical blue-green Village Way run and the view looks AMAZING from up there...but looking at the map you have to ski ~900' vertical of blue runs to get to the lift that services that part of the mountain.


Hey JFrombaugh — welcome to Epic!

 

A lot depends on you, of course. I learned late (I was 47) and for several years taught myself.  It sounds as if you're onto a better plan, taking lessons right off the bat.

 

For me, I've always been more comfortable skiing at one level until the next level looks easy. I don't remember exactly how long it took to start skiing blues, but it was within a season or so (my seasons then were less than ten days), without instruction.

 

Not all blue runs are the same; some are more difficult than others, and conditions make a lot of difference. A blue that might be more difficult in very icy conditions, or when the snow is heavy and cut up into bumps, will be much easier with a smooth, softish surface.

 

I've skied Winter Park a couple of times — it's a fun mountain.  I think you'll enjoy it. I also think it's possible (but talk to a local first, maybe your instructor) to get to the top of Village Way by skiing only greens.  If you're starting from the WP village, take the Zephyr lift, then take March Hare (the green part) to the green section of White Rabbit. Go past the base of Olympia Express lift to Wagon Train (another green) to get to the Pioneer Express lift. Take that lift, and then Gunbarrel (green) down to the High Lonesome Express lift. At the top of that lift, go right, and you should find the top of Village Way.  (One thing about WP resort is that finding your way around can be a bit crazy.)

 

Good luck!  You'll be fine.  Just look for things that look do-able, and then rely on your ability to do them.

post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by lakespapa View Post

 

I've skied Winter Park a couple of times — it's a fun mountain.  I think you'll enjoy it. I also think it's possible (but talk to a local first, maybe your instructor) to get to the top of Village Way by skiing only greens.  If you're starting from the WP village, take the Zephyr lift, then take March Hare (the green part) to the green section of White Rabbit. Go past the base of Olympia Express lift to Wagon Train (another green) to get to the Pioneer Express lift. Take that lift, and then Gunbarrel (green) down to the High Lonesome Express lift. At the top of that lift, go right, and you should find the top of Village Way.  (One thing about WP resort is that finding your way around can be a bit crazy.)

 

Good luck!  You'll be fine.  Just look for things that look do-able, and then rely on your ability to do them.

 

The other blue trail I'm interested in maybe trying out is the historic Mary Jane trail. As far as blue runs go, is it one of the more difficult ones at Winter Park? From what I hear most of the runs over on the Mary Jane side of the mountain are fiendishly difficult (hence the saying "No Pain, No Jane").

post #5 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by JFrombaugh View Post
 

Quote:

 

The other blue trail I'm interested in maybe trying out is the historic Mary Jane trail. As far as blue runs go, is it one of the more difficult ones at Winter Park? From what I hear most of the runs over on the Mary Jane side of the mountain are fiendishly difficult (hence the saying "No Pain, No Jane").

IMO, Mary Jane trail is not a run for beginners.  There is a mogul field on upper right side and some on left side with a steep run down the middle.  I would advise taking this trail on only after you are comfortable with other easier blues at WP/MJ.

post #6 of 24
Agreed. MJ can be a challenge for a beginner.
post #7 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by JFrombaugh View Post
 

I'm going to be taking a ski trip this spring break to Winter Park in Colorado. I have a pass that'd valid for 4 days, which is what I've booked my hotel based on. I also booked some lessons too of course. I've skiied before, but not since I was still in elementary school about 15 years ago (I was too afraid of falling as a kid, and after 5th grade I sadly moved away from a place that has snow). I know what the snowplow turn is and I know that you can only use it up to a point beyond which you HAVE to know how to parallel turn - and of course I've booked some all-important lessons.

 

A lot of sites seem to recommend that you spend a minimum of 3 days on the bunny slopes...but then I've heard the time to progress really varies a lot from person to person. So, how long did it take you to progress to the blue slopes? Did you ski them on your first ski trip? If so, did you lesson your way into them? Were you dragged down one by your impatient friends? Maybe you ended up on one accidentally?

 

I won't be TOO disappointed if I can still only do greens by Day 4, but I've seen some videos of the top of the scenic 3,100' vertical blue-green Village Way run and the view looks AMAZING from up there...but looking at the map you have to ski ~900' vertical of blue runs to get to the lift that services that part of the mountain.


Welcome to EpicSki!  Are you going with friends or family?

 

Haven't really noticed ski school descriptions that imply 3 days on greens, but there are certainly places with 3-day beginner packages.  After the first lesson for never-evers, a good ski school like Winter Park will separate people by ability.  Those that need more time on the magic carpet before heading to a chairlift will take their time.  Those who are ready for greens off a chair lift will head out sooner.

 

At the end of a lesson, you can always ask the instructor for advice about which trails would be good to explore before the next lesson.

 

Note that green/blue/black are only relative to a given mountain.  A blue at one place might be equivalent to a green or a black at another.  Also snow conditions and visibility makes a big difference.  A trail that is a green with good snow and blue sky could feel like a blue in a snowstorm.  Even for experienced skiers, it's always best to start with easier trails when exploring a new mountain to get a sense of the difficulty level.

post #8 of 24

Several things make a big difference.  Your conditioning, especially at that altitude, and your athleticism.  What other activities, especially sports that require a lot of balancing, do you do (dance counts, golf--not so much)?

 

Be sure to rent decent quality boots, and they need to fit as good as possible.  General rule--the smallest size you can wear without discomfort buckled as tightly as possible without discomfort.

 

Some beginner rental skis are OK, and some are so wimpy that you will be held back.  After the first day or two consider either a size longer (thus a bit stiffer and more responsive) or renting a higher quality "demo" ski suitable for your skiing level.

 

If the instructor isn't doing a good job for you, change instructors.  The ski school management wants satisfied customers.  Not all instructors are equally trained.  Not all instructors connect equally well with all customers. 

post #9 of 24

My brother-in-law took me down an easy blue run the second day (at Copper).  I didn't do that great but I was glad I did it and excited.  

When I went to WP as a relative beginner I had fun on blue runs like Bluebell (MJ side) and Jabberwocky (WP side)

But having a lesson will go a long way, plus you can ask about suitable runs.

post #10 of 24

Here's some extra information:

 

The blue section of Village Way from the very top of Parsenn is one of the lower pitch blues in the park, if not the lowest, (its just kind of narrow) and it is groomed; the same can be said for the blues going from Lunch Rock (top of Super Gauge) to the base of the Panoramic lift if you stay on the runs that are to the skiers' right, Edelweiss and Bluebell. They have been grooming Bluebell, meaning that the run should have few to no bumps on it. Compared to some of the other 'blues,' those aren't so steep. 

 

Mary Jane trail is steeper (as far as WP/MJ blues, its mid-steep to steep out of the blues) like others said but it is groomed as of today, which should make it less challenging. There weren't bumps there when I was there last about 3 weeks ago, and I had wondered about that (only on the upper right, which I think is called 'Upper' MJ trail - a blue-black - as someone pointed out already). Keep going further down the cat track Whistlestop to access lower only (careful not to go too far or you'll be heading back to the WP side). 

 

I would also point out that the very end of Lower Parkway (under the Gemini lift) at the WP base is very close in pitch (in my rough, bad judgement) to several of the blues but is just not as long, so that's not a bad gauge. Unfortunately, that section can be extra crowded and nerve-racking. 

 

"I guess that's why they call it the blues...."

 

You're going to have a blast at WP/MJ!

post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by HooDooThere View Post
 

Here's some extra information:

 

The blue section of Village Way from the very top of Parsenn is one of the lower pitch blues in the park, if not the lowest, (its just kind of narrow) and it is groomed; the same can be said for the blues going from Lunch Rock (top of Super Gauge) to the base of the Panoramic lift if you stay on the runs that are to the skiers' right, Edelweiss and Bluebell. They have been grooming Bluebell, meaning that the run should have few to no bumps on it. Compared to some of the other 'blues,' those aren't so steep. 

 

Mary Jane trail is steeper (as far as WP/MJ blues, its mid-steep to steep out of the blues) like others said but it is groomed as of today, which should make it less challenging. There weren't bumps there when I was there last about 3 weeks ago, and I had wondered about that (only on the upper right, which I think is called 'Upper' MJ trail - a blue-black - as someone pointed out already). Keep going further down the cat track Whistlestop to access lower only (careful not to go too far or you'll be heading back to the WP side). 

 

I would also point out that the very end of Lower Parkway (under the Gemini lift) at the WP base is very close in pitch (in my rough, bad judgement) to several of the blues but is just not as long, so that's not a bad gauge. Unfortunately, that section can be extra crowded and nerve-racking. 

 

"I guess that's why they call it the blues...."

 

You're going to have a blast at WP/MJ!

 

That's true — Village Way from the top of Parsenn Bowl is a very easy blue, and there are spectacular views from there. Getting to the Panoramic lift, though, requires a beginner to navigate somewhat harder blues.  Toward the end of the trip, of course, the OP might find those blues easy, too.

post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HooDooThere View Post
 

Here's some extra information:

 

The blue section of Village Way from the very top of Parsenn is one of the lower pitch blues in the park, if not the lowest, (its just kind of narrow) and it is groomed; the same can be said for the blues going from Lunch Rock (top of Super Gauge) to the base of the Panoramic lift if you stay on the runs that are to the skiers' right, Edelweiss and Bluebell. They have been grooming Bluebell, meaning that the run should have few to no bumps on it. Compared to some of the other 'blues,' those aren't so steep. 

 

Looking at the trail map again, that was what I was referring to when I said you needed to ski some blues just to get to the top of Village Way (Panoramic Express chair to Parsenn Bowl).

 

The Youtube video I watched was a "Winter Park top-to-bottom via Village Way" - and I noticed that about the (blue) upper part of Village Way too, other than the drop-off to the right it didn't seem that different from the main (green) part. I noticed it did get MUCH steeper right at the bottom, but if I remember correctly he ended with Larry Sale instead of following the whole meandering slope down.

 

Anyway, thanks for all the feedback, and I guess I'll save Mary Jane for last if it's a relatively "hard" blue (assuming of course that I'm good enough by the end). But like you guys said, my instructor will know best as to which blues I should be able to do based on my current progress and his own "insider knowledge" of the mountain.

post #13 of 24

My husband skiied a blue run on the afternoon his first time on skis.  Lessons for a couple of hours (from me the wife) in the morning learnt to start a parallel turn and slowly skied an easy blue that afternoon.  In saying that as a blue/black run snowboarder he understood edging, his balance and fitness was good.  We were also not at high altitude (in Tignes France during a particularly crappy snow year so needed to try something different).  Don't rule out being able to do it but it will depend a bit on so many things.

post #14 of 24
I was self taught, with an ego greater than my skill base, I hacked and traversed all over, not recommended. tongue.gif

Lessons are priceless, by all means, tell your instructor you're interested in parallel turns straight off the bat, practice on the greens, become comfortable until you trust your technique and skis, then maybe venture into shorter steeps.

If you get tight and stiff, just relax and traverse, better yet, sideslip if you can do the hockey stop drill. On short pitches you can see the end, smile and have fun. With reasonable athleticism a skier with nascent skills can take on greater challenges, it's your decision, don't allow others to push you into uncomfortable places.
post #15 of 24

Lots of good advice in this thread.  Mine would be to not worry just yet about making parallel turns.  I think most instructors would tell you to gradually bring your skis into parallel after you've become more comfortable on your skis and developed your balance skills a bit more.  You have to keep in mind that there are several skill areas that need to be developed.  Fore/aft balance, lateral balance, flexion/extension, angulation, how to transition into a new turn, and even your hands play a role.  It takes time to develop new motor skills and embed them into your muscle memory.  Long story short, there's a lot going on with a person's body while skiing.  When a person is new to the sport, it's almost impossible to focus on what each individual body part is doing, or supposed to be doing.  It's sensory overload.  

 

If you're in a hurry to get to parallel, of the many, many questions you could ask, one would be to focus on angulation and how to balance on your outside ski.  If you can't lift your inside ski, chances are you're not balanced properly.  I feel like I'm putting the cart before the horse by dispensing that advice, but since parallel seems to be of some importance...well, there ya go.  Personally, I think it's better to take your time, follow the progressions and enjoy the journey.  

 

Finally, and I know I sound like a broken record to some, DRILLS.  Do lots of drills.  I'm not saying you or anyone should spend their whole day doing drills, but make a little time for them.  I spend my first 2 or 3 runs doing nothing but drills.  They loosen me up and also wake up my muscle memory for the rest of the day.  I'm still relatively new to the sport and don't have the muscle memory of someone who's an 80 day a year skier and who's skied every year for the past 20 years.  So, that's what works for me.  There are drills and progressions for all skills if you want to build a solid skill set.  I don't mean to sound snarky, but I'd rather see a new skier who really wants to learn the sport doing drills and actually making progress, than to see the person making one bad turn after another and believing they're doing it right.  I'm not talking about the person who goes skiing once a year or once in their life.  In that case, make the best of your experience, and hopefully they don't get hurt.

 

Anyhow, I wish you well on your journey and much success!!!           

post #16 of 24

Well you've made your first mistake by choosing WP...all other ski areas in the US will be a disappointment after 4 days in WP :).  I did not take any lesson when I was there for 3 days last week nor did my 12 y/o son but from what i saw the instructors were introducing their classes to a variety of terrain.  

 

I wouldn't worry too much about the technical aspects of your skiing as much as I would developing enough skill to enjoy as much of WP as you can.  No matter the style of turn you develop and become the most comfortable with, it is important to be able to link turns together of the same size, which will help you control your speed.  My wife has been smearing stem christie turns for 35 plus years and has no desire to learn to carve but she can link her turns and vary turn size based on pitch and snow conditions, she can confidently ski any blue run at WP, in control and with good rhythm.  What motivates most people to continue skiing is the enjoyment of the whole skiing experience, so experience as much as you safely can while you are there.  And remember; the best skiers on the mountain are the ones having the most fun. 

 

As long as you feel safe i recommend taking advantage os the variety at WP.  Take some runs in the Cheser Cat terrain park to get the feeling of rolling terrain in your stomach.  You don't have to get air off the jumps just get the feeling of what its like to be in the park.  Get in some glades and trees, there are plenty of low pitch glades areas In WP.  Off Cranmer and Sleeper you can get into some bumps just adjacent to the groomed area and not have to commit to a crazy mogul run to experience what its like to ski bumps. A good goal would be to take Panoramic and ski Perrys Peak the whole way down.  The bottom of Perry's has mild widely spaced bumps and gets mixed snow. 

 

Lastly don't get hung up on green/blue/black etc.  If your having fun on greens and can challenge yourself then have fun on the greens a good rule of thumb I have found is to ski 4 comfortable fun runs and then challenge your self for one run on something just out of your comfort zone, then 3 on the comfortable run and 2 on the more challenging run...etc, before you know it the challenging run will be the comfortable run. 

 

Lastly, Village Way has a lot of flat spots where could end up pushing and skating, gravity is your friend on the slopes. 

post #17 of 24

Was on blacks the first day, but I am an adrenaline junky, and already knew how to skate (including hockey stops) and ride a bicycle.

post #18 of 24
Last time I was there, Mary jane had free parking that you skied down to a lift. We stayed in a timeshare at sol vista nearby. If you call the resort they will tell you some owners who rent the units for $500 per week. Food is good there too.
post #19 of 24

I managed to start being mostly comfortable on blue runs towards the end of my first day on skis. However, I'm in the midwest and a blue run here isn't exactly a blue run elsewhere. Also, I consider myself pretty naturally athletic and had spent some good time water skiing/wakeboarding growing up as well as ice skating. I was left to figure things out for myself and initially found it easier to do parallel turns (although honestly I was mostly just hockey stopping my way down the hill to control speed for the first bit until I figured out how to make it a turn) than to make snow plow turns since I was trying to emulate the skiiers I'd seen on TV. So I guess I was backwards in that sense. 

 

I think what helped me most was just being confident in your abilities and being hungry to test your skills (within reason). I've progressed much more quickly as a skier than my girlfriend as she is very, very cautious and rarely strays outside of her comfort level. 

post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Acinonyx View Post
 

I managed to start being mostly comfortable on blue runs towards the end of my first day on skis. However, I'm in the midwest and a blue run here isn't exactly a blue run elsewhere. Also, I consider myself pretty naturally athletic and had spent some good time water skiing/wakeboarding growing up as well as ice skating. I was left to figure things out for myself and initially found it easier to do parallel turns (although honestly I was mostly just hockey stopping my way down the hill to control speed for the first bit until I figured out how to make it a turn) than to make snow plow turns since I was trying to emulate the skiiers I'd seen on TV. So I guess I was backwards in that sense. 

 

I think what helped me most was just being confident in your abilities and being hungry to test your skills (within reason). I've progressed much more quickly as a skier than my girlfriend as she is very, very cautious and rarely strays outside of her comfort level. 


Welcome to EpicSki!  In general, folks who are good at ice skating pick up skiing pretty quickly.  Those who play ice hockey definitely have a head start.  Not only for making turns when sliding down the slope but also for getting around on the flats or even a little up hill by "skating" on skis.  My friend's son at age 7 could skate on his skis up the short training slope faster than other kids could get up using the magic carpet.  He started playing ice hockey at age 4.

 

Has you GF taken a few lessons?  That can be helpful for the cautious types.  Skiing becomes a lot more fun when someone has confidence that they can handle any blue, or at least any blue at the mountain they ski at the most.

post #21 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

Has you GF taken a few lessons?  That can be helpful for the cautious types.  Skiing becomes a lot more fun when someone has confidence that they can handle any blue, or at least any blue at the mountain they ski at the most.

I believe she did when she was a kid, but she has not since. The funny thing is that she's a tremendous ice skater with several years of figure skating lessons. I know deep down she has the skill to be a great skier, it's just a battle to get her to let those skis go parallel! She's content snowplowing her way down the easier blue runs,  but she's having fun and willing to hit the slopes so I'm hesitant to push her too hard and spoil her mood.

post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Acinonyx View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

Has you GF taken a few lessons?  That can be helpful for the cautious types.  Skiing becomes a lot more fun when someone has confidence that they can handle any blue, or at least any blue at the mountain they ski at the most.

I believe she did when she was a kid, but she has not since. The funny thing is that she's a tremendous ice skater with several years of figure skating lessons. I know deep down she has the skill to be a great skier, it's just a battle to get her to let those skis go parallel! She's content snowplowing her way down the easier blue runs,  but she's having fun and willing to hit the slopes so I'm hesitant to push her too hard and spoil her mood.


Well, maybe give her a private lesson as a gift some time.  Perhaps next Dec as an early Christmas present during early season.  With a skating background, an experienced instructor should be able to get her making good turns without too much effort.  The more she snowplows, the more that will be the ingrained technique and then it's harder to change to an easier technique.  Could ask for a recommendation here or just ask for a Level 3 instructor at the local ski school or an instructor with 15+ years of experience.  For some women, can be better to have a female instructor.

 

Reminds me a 90-min clinic for Over 50 at my home mountain that I did with a couple.  The wife had never had a lesson.  She learned by spending some ski days out at Jackson Hole when she was a young adult.  She was following a bunch of young men who were pretty good skiers.  She developed a "death wedge" and obviously managed to develop strong survival skiing skills.  It took a while, but the Level 3 instructor teaching the clinic did manage to get her to make a few parallel turns . . . on a green run.  Her husband said he had been an instructor but back in the days of straight skis.  Don't think he'd been skiing much in recent years.  He knew enough to not try to teach her.  Don't think they had been married that long.  I didn't learn that much new during that lesson for my skiing, but it was instructive in a different way to observe what the instructor did to try to deal with ingrained habits.

post #23 of 24

There is a significant jump from greens to blues. The jump is much smaller from blues to single blacks (no bumps). I feel your desire to explore the entire mountain. Its definitely possible to get on a blue by 4th day of skiing. It will also help if you work on balancing exercises before hand, ice skating also helps, these are as good as preparation training gets for skiing without actually skiing.

post #24 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by daren View Post
 

There is a significant jump from greens to blues. The jump is much smaller from blues to single blacks (no bumps). I feel your desire to explore the entire mountain. Its definitely possible to get on a blue by 4th day of skiing. It will also help if you work on balancing exercises before hand, ice skating also helps, these are as good as preparation training gets for skiing without actually skiing.


A note for people who have not been following this Beginner Zone thread . . . green/blue/black (or blue/red/black in Europe) are only relative to a given mountain.  A blue at one place might be equivalent to a green or a black at another.  Also snow conditions and visibility makes a big difference.  A trail that is a green with good snow under blue sky could feel like a blue in a snowstorm or fog.

 

Even for experienced skiers, it's always best to start with easier trails when exploring a new mountain in the Rockies to get a sense of the difficulty level.  Of course, at a small mountain in the flatlands with <200 acres and 100% snowmaking there is probably less reason to start with a green run if you are already comfortable on any blue at another ski area in the same region.

 

Working on one leg balance before heading to the slopes is pretty easy.  No equipment required, although if you have access to a BOSU or other balance board/disc those are helpful.

 

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