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It differs.

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
While trying to entertain myself before the upcoming winter and surfing the ski related sites I noticed a strange contradiction.
If you look at the ski ability charts of a mountain resort you'll see that "an intermediate skier" is the one who "can ski blue runs with a slight wedge opening at the start of the turn and finish in a parallel position". This was quoted from the Jackson Hole web-site which I believe is the standart of skiing skill assessment.
If you now look at any heli-ski operation web-site you'll know that in order to handle their terrain you should be "intermediate skier who "when they visit a ski resort, can ski the whole mountian top to bottom and don't "avoid" runs because of the dificulty level." There can also be some mentioning that they should be able to ski in all snow conditions. This definitely looks more like a very advanced/expert skier rather than intermediate.
Why not to frankly write thar the clients should be experts? This is the question.
Or may be I'm missing something.
post #2 of 8
Umm, ya.....I think the heli operators are looking for business at the wrong skill level. But, I am sure there are heli services that an intermediate could handle.
post #3 of 8
Personally I think the heli-ops have it right.

Scores or levels are kind of meaningless without a written description but I think an intermediate skier is a skier of average ability.

The average skier can ski most of the trails at an average resort. Obviously not all resorts are equal in difficulty so an intermediate could get over their head at a place like Snowbird, Jackson, Kicking Horse, etc. but i think they should be able to handle most trails at a place like Big White, Sunshine Village (minus the access-controlled terrain), Vail, most of the east.....

Since ski technology has improved I find the mountain opens up to beginners really quickly, especially if the skier has an athletic background.
post #4 of 8
If you're snowplowing on a regular basis, except maybe just coming into the liftline or something, you are a beginner.

I've found that vacationers who have skied several times and have developed some more skills than the first time skier, tend to not like to be classified as beginners, they'd rather be called intermediates because they think they've learned a lot. I think for this reason resorts tend to lower the standards of what is what.

All the ski resort and ski school sponsored levels and labels of ability are bunk anyways. They are designed to help beginners gauge their progress. If you have to look at a chart to figure out how good you are, you're a beginner.

I'd say the heli op's definition is more correct. In my mind, an intermediate can ski just about any normal run in bounds, without shaking with fear. An expert can ski anything in bounds but makes it look easy, and jumps of things.
post #5 of 8
In some systems, there are only three ranges. Intermediate is the range in between beginner and expert. It's a big range that encompasses a broad range of skiers. It starts when the snow-plow or wedge turn is ditched in favour of a parallel turn. Years ago it was the stem-Christie marking the end of the snow-plow turn. These days I guess it's when the wedge is no longer a wedge, modern instructors might be able to shed more light on this. The intermediate range ends when you become an "expert". Many folks are too humble to call themselves an expert; they are "advanced" which is the high end of intermediate.

You can be an intermediate at the lower end of the range, able to ski parallel, but not yet able to ski any trail on the mountain, or you can be an intermediate who is able to ski the whole mountain. The later is suitable for the Heli trip, the former maybe not.
post #6 of 8
"Advanced" is the term comes to mind as someone that skis all lift served terrain with relative ease. "Expert" is someone that does it balls out, through wicked bumps, throwing copters off cornices, and can usually stop without losing control after losing a ski on a double black.

Just my opinion though. I don't make the promo materials..

I'd think advanced skiers would feel comfortable on a heli trip and make the best of it. Intermediates would be wasting money to have a copter drop them off somewhere withing their abilities. They can ride a lift to those places.
post #7 of 8
With the advent of powder skis, heli skiing is no longer the sole domain of the expert skier. I have been heli skiing with wedge christy turning intermediates. It can be done.

The more groups that are out, the easier it is for the operator to make up groups of similar ability. Unless you have a reserved chopper, a heli ski day is typically a lot of hurry up and wait as a chopper serves multiple groups. Many operators have a large enough variety of terrain that they can select routes based on group ability but still keep the groups close enough to keep the chopper efficiently productive. And it's not unusual for lower end groups to quit early. Some operators even go out of their way to accommodate and market to less advanced skiers.

Not too long ago you had to reserve well in advance to go heli skiing. Because the supply of heli operations has greatly increased, the operations need to market to a wider audience to fill slots. Although the mystique of expert skiing is a strong sell, the capacity growth has contributed to a confused marketing message at the industry level. You'll still operations like those at Valdez targeting upper end skiers, but many operations will gladly put out groups of intermediates.
post #8 of 8
Originally Posted by Sugaree View Post
.....I think the heli operators are looking for business at the wrong skill level.
I think they are being honest in the historical terms of skiing. i talk with people every day who say, "That was the toughest blue square I've ever skied..., that blacK diamond was nothing like the ones rated black East."

Everybody is looking for run inflation.

I ski every day. That said, I have a really hard time skiing in all snow conditions well.
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