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Skier and instructor ability levels

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
How do you rate your own or someone else's ability level? I have read about people defining themselves as a level 8 skier, what does that mean?

Another related question- How do ski instructors rate themselves? For example, are all Level III instructors strong skiers who can ski any run in any condition?

Generally, when I go to a new mountain I'll get an instructor for a couple hours (or a day if it's Whistler or Jackson) to help me get the lay of the mountain. Last year at Squaw Valley I ended up with an instructor who could not keep up with me in rather difficult conditions; we had fun and skied all over the mountain, but the lesson certainly didn't meet my expectations.

I am new to this great website and hope that this has not been answered recently in another forum.
post #2 of 20
coulior8, details and specifics on instructors are found in the PSIA Alpine Certification Standards. Basically, level I instructors are certified to teach beginner zone (level 1-4) skiers, level II to teach up through intermediate zone (levels 1-7), and level III to teach up through the Advanced zone (all levels 1-9). Instructors above this level are certified to teach and examine instructors.

The levels are recounted on the Eldora web site, if you're interested in seeing the specifics. I'm sure they are in other places, too, but that's where I teach, so...!

I hope that this helps!

[ January 26, 2004, 03:23 PM: Message edited by: ssh ]
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thank you!

These websites very clearly defined the the diferent skier and instructor ability levels.

It's interesting the skier abililty levels are relatively clearly defined up to 8, but after that it seems there needs to be a couple more levels. I'm clearly an 8 or better, but when I look at the level III instructor capabilities, there is no way I can ski that well...
post #4 of 20
Keep in mind that a level III instructor can teach through level 9. That means that a level III can demo skiing and drills for improving the skiing of a level 9 skier. That takes some significant understanding, practice, and skill above that required to ski at that level.

A level 9 skier is an all mountain, all conditions skier in a "serious recreational" sense, at least. But, we can all always get better. Bill Jones describes it, as well.
post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally posted by ssh:
coulior8, details and specifics on instructors are found in the PSIA Alpine Certification Standards. Basically, level I instructors are certified to teach beginner zone (level 1-4) skiers, level II to teach up through intermediate zone (levels 1-7), and level III to teach up through the Advanced zone (all levels 1-9). Instructors above this level are certified to teach and examine instructors.

The levels are recounted on the Eldora web site, if you're interested in seeing the specifics. I'm sure they are in other places, too, but that's where I teach, so...!

I hope that this helps!
Is eldora a big place? I wonder if they have different ratings for different size resorts. Such as Aspen, compared to say anyplace in Michigan.

According to the levels on that website, I would consider myself a level 5 skier. I find that hard to believe as I have only been skiing 3 times. Maybe our blues are way way easier. My water skiing background may have a little to do with it though.
post #6 of 20
Shades, for Colorado, Eldora is a small resort (680 acres, 1500 vertical feet). Bigger than most anything in the LP of Michigan, though (I learned to ski at Nubs Nob [248 acres, 427 vertical feet] and skied/raced during high school at Mt. Holly [100/350]!).

Those skier levels are pretty standard from what I've seen. The PSIA has moved to the broader nomenclature of "beginner zone", "intermediate zone", and "advanced zone" to give more flexibility to teachers. None of us progress in a particular way. In addition, children's levels are a bit different, too.

As an example of progression, last weekend my 7-13 year old students all started as level 1s (never been on skis before). Most of them ended the day as level 3s and some were well on their way to level 4. This after 5 hours of lessons.

My observation is that the earlier levels go much faster with instruction. I suspect that the higher levels require more work to move up for most people. But, I may be wrong about that!
post #7 of 20
Another to consider is that while "advanced" students, for any number of reasons may feel they ski /ride better then their instructor, the instructor has the practice, background and training experience to improve the students performance. They can break down and analyze problems or glitches that may not be recognized through self -evaluation. Coaches often are not as good as their "student" Tiger Woods coach is not a better golfer, Belechek is not a better athlete then the Patriots team...

[ January 29, 2004, 05:12 AM: Message edited by: Kubik ]
post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally posted by Shades9323:
...According to the levels on that website, I would consider myself a level 5 skier. I find that hard to believe as I have only been skiing 3 times...
There has been quite a bit of previous discussion on EpicSki about the inadequacies of the 9 level system currently used in distinguishing skier ability levels. For example, take a look at this 3 page thread from 2002 . In it, I voiced a complaint very similar to yours and said (re one particular definition), "Something is *VERY* wrong with their definition if skiing (ie, surviving) blue bumps puts you in the next-to-the-top level of skiers." . Other folks had similar complaints about "bunching up at the higher levels".

Weems (a very well known instructor / ski school manager at Aspen) responded in the old thread with great insight, saying that "any classification system must be looked at in the context in which it is used...", and backed up his statement appropriately.

Initially, I didn't fully appreciate his comment, but I think I now have a better perspective on these two different points of view. Here's what I think is going on.

Recreational skiers that don't have anything to do with ski instruction intuitively tend to expect to see the usual bell- shaped curve for the distribution of skiers on the hill when they use the current 9 level system to distinguish skiers. When their personal observations don't yield the expected curve (even roughly), they think something is dreadfully wrong with the scale.

IMHO, the fundamental problem is that the current 9 level system simply isn't meant to be used on the entire population of skiers on a mountain. Rather, it is designed to be used primarily by the ski school to split up their clients in a way useful to the school and the clients. Specifically, ski schools see many more lower ability than advanced skiers, and have to split them up in a way best for the clients. The current level system does this quite well.

For example, whereas most advanced recreational skiers would simply classify anyone coming down a green slope in a wedge as a novice skier, its critically important for the ski school to be aware of seemingly small differences within this group (ie, their main clientele) such as (1) if its a guest's first time on skis, (2) if they have been on skis before and have ridden lifts, but still can't make a solid turn, (3) are linking wedge turns on the easiest terrain, (4) are starting to match their skis during parts of their turns on greens, etc.

As you can see, we have already used up four levels and haven't even gotten past "green slope skiers" yet. In a nine level system, there simply aren't many levels left to spread out the higher levels, let alone the highest levels. From the POV of the SS, this isn't a big deal. Relatively speaking, there are so few expert skiers taking lessons that these students will almost always wind up in very small classes and so there is almost no need for a highly discriminating numerical scale for the people who are currently classified as 8's and 9's.

Personally, I still would like to see a scale developed that would discriminate better at the upper end of the spectrum. For example, adding a bunch of new levels starting around 6 or 7 could do this, but then (a) there would no longer be a nice total number of levels (eg, 17 instead of 9); and, (b) there are a huge number of ways that one can fail to be an "expert" but still be "advanced", so defining these new upper levels would almost certainly be problematic.

Hope this clears things up a bit.

Tom / PM
post #9 of 20
Good post, PM.

I'm not sure that any classification system works well at the upper end of the spectrum, though.

Usually, when one reaches the "all runs in all conditions" level, the need for improvement may become more precise and less likely to be found in a group. For example, making the transition away from jump turning in steep refrozen crud - a condition most people have no desire to ski at all.

At my hill, any lesson above a 7 is a private lesson, both because of the variation in abilities and because of the lower interest levels.

In addition, to ski "all runs in all conditions" in PA or even in New England will not translate into a similar ability in the Cascades. Conditions can exist here that never occur in the east. The ability to ski those conditions contain skill sets that could not be taught across a wide spectrum of skiers and areas.

Usually, when one reaches that level, peer-to-peer instruction is the rule.
post #10 of 20
This may be repeating Harry Morgan a little, but I think it will be quite impossible to differentiate the upper levels much more. My impression is, once you build up the fundamentals, the progression isn't quite serial any more. So people who have to work on specific things, may already be quite good on some other aspects that other people have trouble with.
post #11 of 20
HarryM and Paulwlee - I agree completely. That's exactly what I had in mind when I said, "...there are a huge number of ways that one can fail to be an 'expert' but still be 'advanced', so defining these new upper levels would almost certainly be problematic."

Tom / PM
post #12 of 20
I'm with you guys at the advanced end. Also, I think that more advanced skiers can actually take lessons in a group and still get more out of it (witness the typical PSIA clinic, for example) because the instructor spends less time talking, working drills, explaining, etc. and more time having the students do something because they already have most of the foundational skills necessary. That is definitely not true at lower levels, where we're often working to create an initial awareness that there is a new skill to be learned.
post #13 of 20
Other countries use different instructor levels too....

For example an Oz level 2 instructor is roughly the same as a PSIA 3... (I think Austrian is the same?)
Canada have 4 levels...

Student level don't really work well anyway for dividing classes.... What happens with some chicken like me - who skis OK technically but has big problems with things like race courses & jumping & wind lips(OK that one is pretty much over now - I've nearly got that one down)....
I detest crowds - I'll happily ski through 12 inch gaps in trees if it means I get to avoid the crowd(mind you I'll do it at MY speed thanks all the same)
post #14 of 20
I think that some skiers put too much emphasis on what level they are. I have heard students say that they are too good to be in a Level 5 class etc. As a new instructor, I have shadowed various level classes and the amazing thing is that I have learned something in every one of those classes from Level 1 to Level 8. To go to a lower level with the skills and knowledge I have know allows me to really fine tune the things that were difficult to me when I originally learned those tasks. I agree that there has to be a way to divide people into groups of similar ability and to allow the students to know what terrain they will be skiing in that group.
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally posted by skier31:
I think that some skiers put too much emphasis on what level they are. I have heard students say that they are too good to be in a Level 5 class etc.
I took a lesson last week, and my skiing FEELS much better than the others in my group LOOKED.

It's painful to think that my skiing looks like the others in my class.

I need to figure out how to videotape my skiing so I can see what it looks like, because there seems to be a difference between how my skiing looks and how it feels.
post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally posted by skier31:
...I have shadowed various level classes and the amazing thing is that I have learned something in every one of those classes from Level 1 to Level 8. To go to a lower level with the skills and knowledge I have know allows me to really fine tune the things that were difficult to me when I originally learned those tasks...
Heh - try telling this to 90% of the male recreational skiers (both adult and kids) whose only benchmark for success is somehow managing to get down a double black without killing themselves. I even have a bit of trouble on this topic with my own kid. She knows better, and skis quite well, but is constantly bombarded with statements like "Whoa, dude, I just skied 'Death Drop'. " from her friends and classmates (who are several skiing levels below her).

Fortunately, here on Epic, you are almost certainly preaching to the choir about this problem.

Tom / PM
post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally posted by lurking bear:

It's painful to think that my skiing looks like the others in my class.
Blasphemy, perhaps, but I am far more concerned with feeling that I am in control, balanced and comfortable than how my skiing "looks".
post #18 of 20
Harry, I think we're saying the same thing.

I FELT like I was in control, balanced, comfortable, etc, while the other people in my class LOOKED out of balance, etc.

It made me wonder if there is a big difference between how my skiing FEELS and how it LOOKS.

I'm not saying I want to have a particular style, just that I want to be a good skier. I think good skiing takes many forms, but most look like good skiing.

If I feel like I'm skiing well, but it doesn't look like good skiing, I want to resolve that difference. I could just be getting good at skiing poorly.
post #19 of 20
Get video...

Video is scarily real - you can see that you look much more controlled than you feel - but you also go "oh my - why is THAT bit moving - stop waving that arm about to pole plant"

I love & hate it everytime we do it
post #20 of 20
I agree, get video. A few years ago I went to a cross country ski camp. They videotaped us every day doing different drills and skiing on trails. What I thought and felt I was doing was not what that person on the tape was. It was a good reality check.
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