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Skier Ability Level Poll

post #1 of 62
Thread Starter 
Skier Level Indicator Test, from Aspen's Ski School. Take it.

[ October 15, 2002, 10:19 AM: Message edited by: ryan ]
post #2 of 62
Thread Starter 
This level indicator has flaws - terrain factors, for instance - but should serve as a useful barometer for the purpose of this poll.
post #3 of 62
Seen this one before and it's flawed. I rate 9 on their poll but There's so much more for me to learn.
post #4 of 62
Ditto to what dchan said. I'm an accomplished skier, former Instructor, former racer, yada-yada. However, I'm not QUITE the kind to huck an 80' cornice, either...Does that mean I'm still a 9? Or am I demoted to an 8?



EP
post #5 of 62
I like the level indicator. It promoted me to a god.
I'll be even more arrogant now. [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
post #6 of 62
We've talked about this sort of "level inflation" before on Epic. It appears that there is a huge chasm between PSIA-defined levels and the wildly optimistic level definitions that seem to be used by many ski schools to categorize people for group lessons.

I really dislike this discrepancy, but I can understand the reasons that drive it. For example, if they spread out the 7's, 8's, and 9's as they should be, with so few students at these levels, they would often wind up with 1 student (or less) per group (which even happens now). Level inflation is also great at giving lower level students a feeling of rapid progress.

Personally, tho, I'd be very surprised if their definition of a level 8 sits well with most people on Epic:

"I ski blue bumps, groomed blacks, but no double blacks (yet). I can ski advanced terrain on all four mountains"

Something is *VERY* wrong with their definition if skiing (ie, surviving) blue bumps puts you in the next-to-the-top level of skiers. If I had to make a classification based only on this info about their skiing, I'd guess that someone like this was most likely around a 6.

Just my $0.02,

Tom / PM

[ October 15, 2002, 02:36 PM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #7 of 62
That is silly - I came out an 8

someone find a better one please
post #8 of 62
Thread Starter 
Come on, folks. It was stated outright that the poll is flawed. It's just for purposes of polling, to give a GENERAL idea.
post #9 of 62
Man, I need my glasses adjusted. I read your last post as, "...Its just for purposes of trolling..." [img]tongue.gif[/img]

Seriously, tho, the problem is that even for the purpose of just getting a general feel for any given population, no half-way decent poll should ever result in 64% (at the present time) of the respondents falling into the top two of 7 catagories .

This poll might be useful for a ski school to differentiate beginner skiers, in that case, there probably would be a nice spread in the responses.

However, with respect to the Epicski population, this poll puts well over half of the people that took it only a notch or two behind Bob Barnes, Weems, and all the other top pros, and that is just absurd.

Tom / PM
post #10 of 62
Thought maybe I should comment here.

Simply this: it works great--in conjunction with the pro greeting the class, asking appropriate questions, and then two or three classes of similar levels skiing near each other for the first run.

Any written classification system is nothing more than an estimate so the student will arrive nearly in the right place. If we get a couple of level 9's who are different and won't ski compatibly together, we'll separate them. We are also aware that there are more dramatic and faster changes in the first five levels than in all the rest. People stay at six and seven a long time, yet many levels of 7 can ski together just fine.

Realize, that it is easy to manage this because our Small Group Lessons average less than two to a class. We shoot for three and sometimes have four.

I also am unapologetic about the so called inflation issue. We want our people to feel that they're good and they're going to be better, and that this whole damn process is just a huge amount of fun.

So any classification system must be looked at in the context in which it is used. [img]tongue.gif[/img]
post #11 of 62
Now, having done the vote, I see that the percentages are about what I'd expect from a group like this. Every one of you would have found the right class quickly,--starting with the self classification, and continuing through the greeting/questions.

It is much harder to make the distinctions at the 5 and 6 levels.

So lighten up!
post #12 of 62
Quote:
Seriously, tho, the problem is that even for the purpose of just getting a general feel for any given population, no half-way decent poll should ever result in 64% (at the present time) of the respondents falling into the top two of 7 catagories .
Just for the record. If the poll is designed for a general population and you sample a specific segment from it, it does not make the poll flawed, merely your sampling techniques.

Many people down here (Australia/NZ) consider themselves “skiers” yet ski only one week per year and are barely able to negotiate a blue run with any degree of confidence. If this skill level represents the median level within society, sampling from a group of true enthusiasts will produce seeming erroneous results. Personally I would not be at all surprised to find the results skewed such that the majority of bears fall within the top few categories.
post #13 of 62
Plus, there is a double level of anonymity, so no one is going to be called on their self judgement.
post #14 of 62
Each spring, when PSIA holds it's "National Academy" (usually in Snowbird), approx 150 instructors from all over the country are asked to determine their abilities.

The titles may change a little from year to year, but they often run something like this-.

I Ski To Die! ( I can ski all conditions, at any speed, on any hill!)

Obviously- this group is inhabited by the testosterone overdose gang.

I Ski Fast! ( I can ski almost anything, but I sometimes have problems in really difficult terrain/ snow conditions)

This group has a mild sense of their own mortality!

I Like Skiing Fast on Groomers! (I like to ski fast on smooth terrain, but would like to improve my technique in challenging snow /terrain conditions)

This group usually realizes that there are some significant technical flaws in their skiing.

I Like Groomers! ( I like cruising groomers, but am not overly interested in learning to ski difficult conditions)

What can you say... "here chook, chook, chook... " (Joking!)

Just as important as technical ability, is what each student expects as an outcome. There are also differences in the means used to achieve these outcomes, and how different students will respond to those means.

There are so many factors which are combined in creating a reasonably homogenous group. Weems hit on it when he described the role and impact each instructor's personality plays when meeting with a prospective group of students.

The PSIA descriptions of levels 1-9 is more for the instructors to use, than the public. Instructors will tend to define specific skill useage as delineators between the various levels, to a degree which the average student might not understand. This is why so many who have taken this poll are being ranked so highly.

Ability and outcome (as described above) might serve as a basis by which the Academy participants might better divide themselves.

I'm looking forward to meeting all of you at Solitude!

:
post #15 of 62
Good thoughts, guys.

Warning - geek speak lies beyond. The following discussion might seem like excessive concern with minutiae, however, lack of concern with such details is precisely what caused 6 people (by my count, including the original poster) to feel that the poll and possibly ski school class definitions are clearly flawed, and only one to defend it (albeit for another use).

Weems' comment, "It works great", is derived from hands-on experience which simply can't be argued with. His comment is entirely consistent with my comment that: "This poll might be useful for a ski school to differentiate beginner skiers." I probably should have said "beginner and intermediate skiers". I am happy they have a system that works well for them. An even better system might exist.

Pete then commented: "If the poll is designed for a general population and you sample a specific segment from it, it does not make the poll flawed, merely your sampling techniques."

Pete's argument assumes that this poll is for use on a general population. This was indeed its original use, however, once it was put up for use on Epic, its current intended use is inarguably for the specific population of skiers on Epic. Thus, I would say that Ryan's choice of instrument was poor, not his sampling. Since the sample universe here (ie, EpicSki members) is so well defined, there is hardly any way one can make a sampling error in this context (other than the everpresent self-selection bias in non-randomized voluntary response, self-grading polls).

Taking a larger view, I have talked to quite a few intermediate and above skiers who have expressed to me concern & confusion over the difference between their ski school class level and where they would intuitively expect to be placed relative to the other skiers on the hill, let alone the PSIA level definitions. It momentarily boosts people's egos to be placed in a "level 8" class, but these people know intuitively they can't possibly be only one click down from the top level of skiing if 20% of the recreational skiers on the hill are skiing better than them.

IMO, this practice is so prevalent, that among advanced skiers, this intuitively obvious level inflation taints ski schools with a small but totally needless element of mistrust / hucksterism / focus on low level skiers. It may also mislead many recreational skiers to think that they are "already near the top, so why should I take more lessons". After all, they can't possibly be deluding themselves if they were put in a level 8 class a couple of years ago, right?

In some ways, this issue isn't a big deal, but in others, I think it is.

Just my $0.02,

Tom / PM

[ October 15, 2002, 08:18 PM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #16 of 62
VSP - We were posting simultaneously so I didn't see your comments when I wrote my previous message.

I *REALLY* like your divisions. They seem like a much more realistic way to divide up reasonably advanced skiers (as well as having a wholesome tongue-in-cheek element to them).

After seeing your post, about the only other thing I'll add to my previous post is to reiterate that the "HUH?" factor that I am talking about doesn't come from recreational skiers grading themselves relative to the PSIA standards, but relative to other skiers on the hill.

To use recently popular terminology, everybody intuitively expects bell shaped curves, so to use my previous example, if a person sees that 20% of the other recreational skiers on the hill are better than him, he might expect to be placed in a class 2 or 3 levels down from the top, certainly never in the next to the top group.

Tom / PM

[ October 15, 2002, 08:18 PM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #17 of 62
You could expect a bell shaped curve if the majority of skiers surveyed were centred about the median. In my experience the numbers of skiers taking lessons diminishes in proportion to their increased skill level. That is, a person first on skis will quite likely take a lesson, however the probability of them continuing with lessons decreases as their experience increases. The sample will thus not be bell shaped. For that reason a questionnaire that differentiates between more basic skill levels is likely to be far more useful in practice than one that differentiates skier ability on a linear scale. … unless we’re trying to sample Epic skiers ha ha.

Just my 2/100 of a dollar worth but trying to some justification for hours of boring statistic and market research lectures
post #18 of 62
Pete - Cool! Your comments are right on the mark. As you know, when I made my comment about expecting bell shaped curves, it was in reference to a skier comparing himself to all other skiers on the hill, not to the population enrolling in ski school, or the population on Epicski.

As you jokingly (but entirely correctly) hinted, the histogram for truly "Epic" skiers will be skewed towards positive values, hence the terrible resolution of skill differences when one attempts to use the Aspen instrument on this population. The responses to the survey have now become so skewed that last time I looked, there were more 9's than 8's, more 8's than 7's, ... all the way down to no level 1 through 3's.

Also, as you said, a histogram of skiers taking lessons will be skewed towards low levels, and probably to an equal degree that the Epic population is skewed the other way, and so Weems' defense of the Aspen rating system if entirely understandable for that application.

As a statistics geek, this situation is probably an example of such extreme skewing in subpopulations that it is worthy of the textbooks.

Tom / PM
post #19 of 62
Physics man - it gets even worse over here - we have a 6 Level system (6 up to 1, beginner - expert).
Roughly from memory
A beginner is a 6
Snow plough turns =5
Stem Christies = 4
Basic Parallel(Blue runs) = 3
Parallel with pole plants & more comfy on blacks =2
Ski anything, anytime anywhere =1 (Actually they tell me the definition the instructors see is dynamic short turns in moguls on balck runs - but they don't tell the public that)

So you can be a 3 - 2 levels from top & ski not as well as HALF the skiers around.
Everyone is a 2 for .......
NO INCENTIVE for a lot of people to take lessons - they think they were a 2 about5 years ago - they get down most stuff(not ski well but get down) they MUST be a 1 now huh?
post #20 of 62
Just to clarify again, our guests learn that there are more levels of the game within the higher numbers and that they remain levels 8 and 9 for many years. However, this does not effect their ability to find a compatible class--which is the point of the whole exercise, anyway.

My personal hierarchy of skier goes like this:
Beginner-->Intermediate-->Expert-->Good (like, that woman is a GOOD skier!)

Many of the nines do not fall into the category of good, but some do.
post #21 of 62
Weems - I was once told by an instructor that when you have good stance & balance on a black run you can really START to learn to SKI.
Sounds fair enough to me (in fencing our coach said about 4 years to get out of 'nappies' - ie you have learnt positions & can start to do something useful)

However on posting that on an oz ski site full of regular skiers - they got a little ... upset shall we say... didn't match their expectations.

Epicski members may accept it. Aspen clients may accept it.
I am thinking that that is not the 'norm' though.
post #22 of 62
I agree with ant. The gap between 8 and 9 is enormous because the definition of Level 8 is much too low.

And regarding the notion that Epic members would naturally be around 8-9 is wishful thinking IMHO. I have seen many posted video's and I have rarely seen true level 8-9 skiing. For example, the majority of Bears at Fernie were not what I would call level 8-9 according to the videos that SCSA has shown.

But then my definition of level 7 (what I call advanced) is a solid Level I instructor. True experts are at Level 8 (Level II instructors) and Level 9 (Level III instructors). Anything above that is icing on the cake. Most skiers on the mountain are level 4-5-6, or intermediates.

The truth hurts, huh?
post #23 of 62
Nup - no wishful thinking here - I just answered the silly question doodad.

There is the SMALL colour-blindness problem that Fox came up with in another thread... WHOSE blues/blacks etc am I skiing on?

What sort of skiing? - ie How Good do they want those turns?

I KNOW how WELL I ski for me ... & HOW MUCH I STUFF UP...
the only problem is when some new instructor tries to ask me...

Also I ski much better with MY INSTRUCTOR(any one of them) AROUND - confidence issue there - they didn't ask how I ski ON MY OWN.
Then snow conditions - they asked how I skied -not how I skied in CRAPPY SNOW

Now getting back to the instructor bit - WHOSE LEVEL 1 instructor??
APSI 1 skiing level is about PSIA 2 (or so I'm told) so....

As my instructor says - if you really want to know how I ski - watch me & work it out for yourself - might take a while until I stop surprising you though.
post #24 of 62
Quote:
Originally posted by TomB:
I have seen many posted video's and I have rarely seen true level 8-9 skiing. For example, the majority of Bears at Fernie were not what I would call level 8-9 according to the videos that SCSA has shown.

But then my definition of level 7 (what I call advanced) is a solid Level I instructor. True experts are at Level 8 (Level II instructors) and Level 9 (Level III instructors). Anything above that is icing on the cake. Most skiers on the mountain are level 4-5-6, or intermediates.

So what are YOUR definitions - because we aren't getting that on the ASpen test thingy - which is why we are all complaining that it doesn't work!
post #25 of 62
Maybe the answer to the multiple definitions of skier level is simply to be sure the appropriate name is put in front of the number whenever there is a chance for confusion, eg, "Joe is a ski school level 8 skier," "Mary is about a PSIA (guest) level 6, but in Oz, she would be an Aus SS level 1".

Then, by definition, there is no more "level inflation" and confusion since there clearly are different scales in use.

In addition, if the term "ski school level" is used instead of just "level", people could understand how they might be in a SS level 8 class and still see a significant number of better skiers on the hill. This situation would be familiar to everyone because one's grade in elementary school is clearly not equivalent to one's progress along the much larger educational spectrum.

Tom / PM
post #26 of 62
PM,

Seek the simple solution by consolidating different rating systems used in skiing, rather than tying it to national/brand instruction systems. Instead of basing ski school levels on technical achievement, base them on the same rating scale used in setting bindings. Or the same rating scale as is used for runs (though we know there's downsizing in those numbers as well).

Standardization would do much to make our service more transparent instead of continually cluttering it with jargon and practices that make the customer feel like a stupid stranger in a strange land. Nothing hurts sales more than making customers feel stupid or excluded.
post #27 of 62
THANKYOU NOLO!

they just don't seem to get it that if the run ratings are subjective then 'parallel turns on balck runs' is too....
post #28 of 62
True true. I know the only probability 1.0 is the fact that I would be asleep during the lectures

The "bracket creep" is an interesting phenomenon we’re seeing in society, basically driven by marketing. Those in touch with their feminine sides know how women’s clothes have continually been driven down in stated size to the point where size zeros are found in the US. Size zero? While this creep may not be a problem if you’re talking about the increasing size of a “regular” coke, it does pose a problem for those who rely on the bracketing as a standard. With reference to skiing, consider a student who is placed in a level 6 class one year only to find they are placed in a level 5 class at another mountain the following year. How will he/she feel about this subjective degrading of ability? The truth may simply be a difference in the way the 2 mountains rate their students, yet may have a profound affect on the person’s perception of the teaching experience. The converse is of course true, where a person enrols in a level 6 class only to find they “progressed” to a level 7 class in one lesson.
post #29 of 62
Didn't work for me! I'm better than their description of level 8, but the next level was too big a jump.
post #30 of 62
Quote:
Originally posted by nolo:
PM, Seek the simple solution by consolidating different rating systems used in skiing, ...
That's an excellent idea, Nolo, and I would be in favor of it, but I'm afraid that a tectonic sized shift of this magnitude would never happen. OTOH, adding a word here and there (as needed for clarification) might. In fact, if the latter became common practice, and everyone began to realize the existence of these separate systems, it might eventually drag everyone kicking and screaming right to your solution.

Actually, I think ( ) the best solution is to change the word for ski school class designations from "level" to "grade" (just like in regular kids' schools).

PRESTO! With this one change, skiing newbies would start in first grade, progress through (skiing) grade school (say ending at 6th grade = ATM6) and skiing high school. If they persevere through ski grad school, they might even come out of the system with a skiing Ph.D. (ie, L3) which would be the equivalent of an academic Ph.D. and which would allow them to teach (ski) grade school (L1) and high school (L2) teachers. Hey, it would give everybody something to strive for, no confusion between different systems, no perception of level inflation, very regimented and Austrian, etc. Just think, we could then deal with grandfathering in of old timers, high school equivalency certificates, skiing SAT's to get into ski college, etc.

Tom / PM

[ October 16, 2002, 04:10 PM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
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