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skier levels?

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
i'm new to this forum. i see a lot of skiiers mention their "level" when seeking recommendations, as in: "i am a level 8 skier...."

where are these levels described?

i searched the site, but couldn't find anything.

post #2 of 39
post #3 of 39


Go to the advanced search, type in "skier levels PSIA" and select the instruction forum.

This will bring up several threads discussing the "levels" There are several old posts with broken links (new software) but this should get you started.

post #4 of 39
Originally Posted by xdog1
thanks for the link, I always wondered how everyone validated their skiing level. Plus I just went up one if that link is the standard.

woo hoo level 9.

however I do not beleive I am at the highest level of ability (are you ever) there are still certain aspects of skiing that I have not yet mastered (does anyone ever) I can ski anything anytime and get down safe and have fun doing it. Grace and speed is the clincher. the steepest, deepest, crustiest bumpiest needs more work.

should there not be two scale levels:

One for Instructors etc.. to clasify their students into for the best, most efficient use of instruction time and proper class placement.

Second for ability determination.

post #5 of 39
You forgot the third one: for braggarts to use in the bars to impress the ladies...
post #6 of 39
Originally Posted by ssh
You forgot the third one: for braggarts to use in the bars to impress the ladies...
Ah yes the I'm a superstar skier bloated head scale. but that one is easy it starts at 10 and ends at 10.

post #7 of 39
Originally Posted by Marmot mb
Ah yes the I'm a superstar skier bloated head scale. but that one is easy it starts at 10 and ends at 10.
C'mon, Mark, we both know better than that. It's like an old Monty Python skit. It starts at 10 (on a scale of 1-10) and goes up from there! :
post #8 of 39
"All our amps go to 11"
post #9 of 39
It's my humble opinion that many folks are a bit too generous with the levels... I base this on the following idea

- Skiing levels are 1 - 9
- This spans ALL skiers (people who have never skied to the most expert skiers - professionals)
- That makes racers, national team members, examiners (etc) level 9 skiers
- Level 9 skiers ski "all conditions equally well"

Now - what level are you?

post #10 of 39
According to the skills listed on the chart, I'm a solid level 8 skier. Personally, I don't think I have any business being classified as level 8 when, say, Bode Miller is a 9. That's messed up. Two full seasons turned me into a level 8 skier.. it seems like it will take me many times that to call myself a level 9.
post #11 of 39
This is the first time I've looked at the scale. I'm a 9? There are lots of skiers out there that are much better than I. Where is 10, 11, 12, etc.? I guess at some point it doesn't matter any more.
post #12 of 39
L9 skiers ski all surfaces EQUALLY WELL
- green trails
- terrain parks
- groomed cruisers
- steepest, icy bumps
- all gladed runs
- off-piste
- back country
- etc

sure - folks in traditional ski schools do achieve L6 and 7 competencies fairly easily... 7 - 9 is a whole new world of skiing
post #13 of 39
IMO there's quite a difference between "skiing blacks and maybe some double blacks, leaning to initiate turns, linking turns, good control of movement" and "ski everything in existence equally well"

According to this chart, all of my skiing buddies, several of whom have been skiing casually 5 years or less (no lessons, athletic 20-somethings, 10-20 times a year) are level 8.

The first 8 levels of the scale seem to be "never-ever" to "fairly competent" with the last level jump saved for the "fairly competent on a mountain" to "true expert skier" which seems like way too big a jump.
post #14 of 39
Originally Posted by xdog1
This is the first time I've looked at that scale too. IMHO, worthless. According to it, I'm an 8. If I enter a NASTAR race, then I get to 9. However, as pheft said, there are lots of skiers better than me -- we all get squeezed in between 8-9 ?

You could get from 0 through 4 in your first day skiing, ever.

What's the point of this rating/ ranking system ?

post #15 of 39
I always thought of that scale being only applied to recreational skiers. Most professional skiers are of level 9 ability... but the depth of their abilities is not described by level 9 at all. They are able to do things that are clearly out of the category. Also, when it says all trails in all conditions i dont consider this limited to trails that are on piste or lift served. I would rate professional skiers in a category of their own (accept instructors - sorry but a lot do have beyond level 9 skills - but most spend their time on piste and relate their skills to "on piste" type skiing).

I would say that you are a level 9 recreational skier if you can get off the lift at any ski area, hike up beyond the lift served area, ski down a 40+ degree chute full of fresh powder, crud, or ice, drop off several cliffs and rocks on the way (10+ feet), then ski the open bowl area at the bottom of the chute that is fresh powder or crud, and dump out into a lift served steep groomer carve GS and SL turns down that without stopping to catch your breath, jump off the trail into the trees and empty out onto a bump trail which you take down to a crowded criuser groomer where you execute controled medium radius carves until you reach the lift to do it all over again. Mind you - a run like this would take between 3,000 and 5,000 feet of vertical... preferably without stopping for any long duration of time, or at all. Also... none of that should feel to be out of the ordinary for the level 9 skier... all in a full day of skiing so to speak.


post #16 of 39
Originally Posted by El Chupacabra
You could get from 0 through 4 in your first day skiing, ever.
That says it all.

post #17 of 39
Heluvaskier, you can define "level 9" in any arbitrary way you want, but I'm not sure that your definition matches the 'official' definition
post #18 of 39
Originally Posted by klkaye
- Level 9 skiers ski "all conditions equally well"

Now - what level are you?

Gee I guess that means if you win the World Cup Downhill, but come second in the slalom event you're only level 8: .
post #19 of 39
The skier levels have little to do with what terrain you ski on an more to do with techniques. I skied over 30 years before becoming a ski instructor. I could ski all the double black diamonds at Crested Butte, Jackson Hole and Snowbird in relative comfort. When I became a ski instructor, I had quite a suprise to learn that I was only a level 6-7 skier in technique and would benefit most from being placed in with students of that level in lessons.

The ratings systems started out as a teaching guide for instructors as a way of class split but was quickly snapped up by marketing departments as a way to woo guests.

Of all ski instructors in ski schools around the US, I would guess that only 10-15% are really level 9.

You will find this system administered around the country in ski schools about the same as the trail rating system. You could get placed in a level 9 group at a wimpy ski resort near a metro area and you might only be a level 6-7 in terms of the intended PSIA defintion. They don't have anyone to fill those slots so the SS's like to inflate the egos of guests. Fill up the slots equally even if you don't have anyone close to the real defintion.

Moral here; you could benefit from being placed in a level 9 class at many resorts around the country even if you are not even close but at others you would find yourself in over your head, feel stupid and learn little. The ratings are not universally applied. Do a bit of research on how its applied where you want to take a lesson before you buy a lesson

The strict definitions are intended as a tool for PSIA instructors. To all others, the strict defintions are all just so much BS and marketing hype.
post #20 of 39
To me a 9 is like a scratch golfer. Tiger and most pros have a minus handycap. I think there are better skiers than a 9. I, myself concider myself a strong single digit handycap skier.
post #21 of 39
Thanks Pierre - you offer a good perspective here.

For the record - this website that we're referring to is NOT the official PSIA definition of the skier levels. Pierre couldn't have said it more clearly - just as the trail rating system varies from hill to hill - the lesson levels vary also.

Let's all spend less time worrying about what level skier we are - and more time learning to ski the way we want to ski!!

post #22 of 39

A bit of history

For those of you who would like to know a bit of history. PSIA use to have a test called the STAR test. STAR stood for STAndard Rating test. It was a skiing test given to the general public by trained PSIA test givers. The tests were roughly equivalent to the skiing portion of the PSIA level 1,2 & 3 exams. If a skier passed they were awarded a bronze, silver or gold pin upon passing each test. The gold pin started out as roughly equivalent to the minimum entry into the now level 9 in terms of PSIA.

The tests became hugely popular with the general public and as a result, became competitive. Bragging rights rose and skiers would shop around for a more lienient examiner and sharply criticize those who would flunk them. The tests became unpopular with ski school directors who would get complaints and lose business and examiners who were routinely criticized and pressured to water down the tests. As a result, the competitive nature of the skiing zealots killed the goose that laid the golden pin. Evidence of that competitive spirit is still very evident in this thread.

The only way you will truely know if you are at the PSIA definition of level 9 is to take a lesson from a PSIA examiner and ask them for an HONEST assesment. Even then, only if you appear really humble and genuinely interested and offer a tip before the results are you likely to be told the truth. Its still a slippery slope for an examiner to deflate your ego.

The unwritten entry into the level 9 slot is hidden in the PSIA standards. In order to be considered able to teach a level 9 skier you must pass the PSIA level 3 cert exam. Since it is written that you should be able to ski as well as your students one could deduce that the minimum entry to level 9 could be the ability to pass the skiing portion of a level 3 PSIA certification exam. Since none of that really exisits in writting, it could be deduced that what I have said is Lucky Pierre's dillusional opinion just as well.
post #23 of 39
Originally Posted by klkaye
Let's all spend less time worrying about what level skier we are - and more time learning to ski the way we want to ski!!
The level system makes it a little easier to tell the ski school what group to put you in for a lesson. If your carving turns on black diamonds, you don't want to learn how to do stem-christies.

Another reason people "worry" about what level skier they are, and this only happens to me once every 15 years or so, is that the first question the kid in the ski shop asks you when you ask him to show you some skis is "What level skier are you?".

After my most recent round of ski searching, I've determined that for the purpose of buying skis, I am an "Expert". It's rather disapointing; I haven't increased in level during the last 15 years. I suspect that many of the self-confessed non-experts on this forum would put themselves in the same categorie when they ask to look at some skis. The non-expert skis just can't deliver the goods. I don't quite get why anyone would want skis that don't do exactly what they're told to when they're told to do it, but my daughter who is still an intermediate assures me there is a place for forgiving skis.
post #24 of 39
I think that the “level” designation is over rated and useful only in organizing group lessons.

With an effectively infinite number of skiers, each one unique, the level system is breaks down with many ranges of ability within the 9 designations.

Also, I have met instructors who work at areas that use other systems beside the 1 to 9 ranking.
post #25 of 39
Thanks Pierre nice history lesson.....

I find the "level" I am at always difficult if someone asks me.... after all I ski with my own instructor most of the time....so my answer is "not good enough to buckle their boots" (well they don't have bootlaces to tie anymore ) ..... over the years I have had the odd fill in instructor tell me my "level" .... it really does not excite me too much - I still don't ski how I want to....

Since I have started skiing with the staatlich he has taken to giving me assessments of my skiing as he would if I was training with him for exams -much more useful as he gives me a nice analysis of the tasks I would be strong & weak at & why (my skiing technical deficits) which is much easier for me to understand. I get what I REALLY need to work on (as opposed to constant streams of what is wrong with my skiing) & what my current strengths are....

I wonder if some ski school could produce nice little "report cards" for us to get filled in each time.... but even then the conditions etc are hard to describe....

I tend to rely on one of the instructors I have skied with not so much for the season to give me a summary of how much/little progress I have made for the season.... (ie between the lessons I had with them)
post #26 of 39
I am partial to the old-time ratings of novice, intermediate, advanced intermediate, advanced, and expert. You can make it to advanced in a relatively short time as compared to the time it takes to go from advanced to expert, which takes the bulk of your skiing days, until age and infirmity cause you to slide back down the scale to intermediate, for which you will be grateful because you're still skiing while your cohorts are practicing for their eternal rest.
post #27 of 39
I prefer to use the Richter scale. 7.7 describes both my skier level and the seismic consequences when I fall. Fortunately, tsunamis aren't an issue till spring melt begins.
post #28 of 39
Originally Posted by jstraw
I prefer to use the Richter scale. 7.7 describes both my skier level and the seismic consequences when I fall. Fortunately, tsunamis aren't an issue till spring melt begins.
Goes well with "If you were a ski, what ski would you be?" For me...Chubb
post #29 of 39
For the instructor the best skier is the one with the biggest smile on their face. Or the kid that gives a crumpled up dollar bill as a tip.

Most of the certified instructors are there not for the free lift ticket but for the joy of sharing their passion of the sport.

If you are a supporter read Todd's article about "The Reality Gap"
post #30 of 39
Jeezus folks, stop obsessing. It's a basic guideline for chrissake.

There's 15+ feet of snow in Tahoe, go read the discount airfare thread, learn how to find a cheap fare, and get your a$$ out there and SHOW us what level you are instead of talking it to death. :
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