Originally Posted by Cornbread
I do believe these lists have some merit in addition to their use at the ski school. All sports have some way of measuring their participants' ability level and skiing to me and many others is a sport and not just a recreational outing. Yeah, skiing is fun but so is golf and I along with most golfers know what our handicaps are even if most of us participate at a recreational level. It has less to do with ones ego or bragging rights and a lot more to do with knowing ones ability and where one stands with the best out there. Who is going to question a single digit handicap golfer’s intentions when they state their ability? Do you think they are boasting or inflating their ability for doing so? I happen to think that it is a great and well deserved accomplishment.
As has been mentioned, this subject comes up quite often and there are many lists out there that tend to inflate the ability levels or are quite vague at the upper levels. I posted the following list at another site a couple of weeks ago. I compiled the info from the best lists out there along with what has previously been suggested at EpicSki including the idea that there are sub-levels among the upper tiers. As all lists, it can be subjective and open to some level of interpretation. Still, it is a good guide listing the abilities and/or limitations that one would be expected to have at that particular level. I think most skiers of any level could look at it and comfortably say, “that’s me” with a reasonable amount of accuracy.
For those of you who think such ideas are worthless or ridiculous, that’s cool. Move on, have fun skiing, and don’t concern yourself with it. For those of you that see a value in such things, please offer suggestions or ways to improve the list.
Never Ever: Level 0
Beginner: Level 1: J-turns to connected wedge turns on Bunny Slope
Beginner: Level 2: Connected wedge turns on Easy Greens, stop in a wedge, capable of riding surface lift
Novice: Level 3: Controlled wedge turns on all Greens, capable of riding and exiting all lifts
Novice: Level 4: Controlled wedge turns and beginning to finish with a skidded parallel on Easy Blues
Intermediate: Level 5: Start turns with a slight wedge but finish turns in a skidded parallel, can stop using a “hockey stop”, upper body still follows skis, turn shape and speed are constant, less than ideal conditions are still very challenging, can ski at this level on all groomed Blues and Easiest Blacks in best conditions
Intermediate: Level 6: Skis mostly in a skidded parallel, beginning to use a pole plant, upper body beginning to face down fall line, can vary turn shape and speed, beginning to use edges during turn, struggles on ice and heavy snow, skiing off well groomed slopes is a rarity and extremely challenging, can ski at this level on groomed Harder Blacks in best conditions
Advanced: Solid Level 7: Good parallel form with pole plant, upper body mostly faces down fall line, capable of using edges on all groomed slopes in most conditions at moderate speed, capable of keeping downhill ski on edge throughout turn, beginning to weight and un-weight ski, has achieved a fair amount of athleticism and conditioning, beginning to ski off-piste, can ski at this level on groomed Hardest Blacks in less than ideal conditions
Advanced: Top Level 7: Comfortable venturing off-piste but is challenged in moderate moguls and light powder, beginning to explore other off-piste disciplines, can ski on un-groomed Hardest Blues and Easiest Blacks in best conditions
Advanced: Low Level 8: Very good parallel form, understands mechanics of the turn, very good upper and lower body separation, weights and un-weights skis, upper body faces down fall line, skis “cross” or “swing” under body, can make carved connected railroad tracks by keeping both skis on edge throughout the turn on all groomed trails in all conditions at high speed, has good athleticism and conditioning, is challenged by several off-piste disciplines, can ski off-piste at this level on the Hardest Blacks in slightly less than ideal conditions
Advanced: Solid Level 8: Skis most off-piste areas and disciplines well at moderate speed, skis bumps of various size and shape well, skis powder well, skis trees, skis open bowls, capable of hiking and difficult traverses, can self arrest, beginning to ski toughest snow conditions off-piste where weaknesses are revealed, can ski off-piste on Easiest Double Diamonds in best conditions
Expert: Top Level 8: Excellent dynamic parallel form, adjusts weighting of skis according to conditions, can ski 90% of the terrain, in 90% of the conditions, 90% of the time at any resort mountain, struggles in very few areas, can ski at this level on Harder Double Diamonds in less than ideal conditions
Expert: Low Level 9: Skis with high confidence and ability on all but the hardest terrain in all but the most difficult conditions, has high athleticism and conditioning, weaknesses are revealed only in the most extreme terrain and conditions, can ski the most exposed Hardest Double Diamonds in the best conditions
Expert: Solid Level 9: Extremely knowledgeable and skilled on the mountain including back country, very few weaknesses if any, is capable of coaching and guiding anyone, is confident and comfortable in any situation, skis where falling is not an option on the most exposed Hardest Double Diamonds in less than ideal conditions, Skis Anytime, Anything, Anywhere, Any Condition, Any Speed
Elite/Rock Star: Top Level 9/10: Off the chart, a true Ski God/Goddess and world class athlete, Skis Sick Terrain!!! Sick Conditions!!! Sick Speed!!! Sick Style!!!