|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