New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Zones

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
[Could be a topic here that was added to the Ugli Thread. I have edited it to be a topic and not a response.]

The Levels 1-9 Skier Levels, which was integral to the Skills Concept discussion in the 1996 PSIA Alpine Manual, is missing entirely from the new PSIA Alpine Technical Manual. It has been replaced by something called Skier Zones. As I understand it, it's not a return to beginner-intermediate-advanced skills, as in the olden days, but to beginner-intermediate-advanced terrain, skills, psychology, motivation, fitness, etc. The new classification is about comfort zones, which relates to our feelings, not an expert's observations, so it is DIY.

A skier moves into a zone when they are comfortable with the terrain. Beginners move into the intermediate zone when they are comfortable on all green and easy blue runs. Intermediates move into the advanced zone when they are comfortable on all blue and easy black terrain.

Advanced is divided into Masters of Black Terrain and Beyond Black. A skier who is entering the Black Zone is comfortable on black diamonds and seeking comfort on double blacks, off-piste "ugly" conditions, super-carving (Bob.Peters's test of true all-mountain skills), etc.

A skier who might be classified as Beyond Black is comfortable in ALL terrain found inside the ski area boundaries. Beyond Black is seeking out challenging, often competitive situations, like racing, moguls/aerials/pipe'n'park competitions, powder-8s, Valdez, PSIA D-Team, International Mountain Guide's certification, etc.

I like the Zones better than the levels system--it's user friendly because it asks for a self-assessment of how comfortable we feel on specific types of terrain.

What do you think of the new?

[ September 02, 2003, 04:06 AM: Message edited by: nolo ]
post #2 of 21
The average skier seeking a lesson would look at the levels 1-9 and pretty much do the zone thing anyway. The levels 1-9 were meant as a guide for instructors to place students. Not for students to place themselves. The ability to do the listed maneuvers in 1-9 was the standard not the terrain. The average skiers had no idea what the maneuvers actually were so they went by the terrain discription.

The confusion is well illustrated in lengthy threads here on Epicski between instructors and non-instructors over the levels 1-9. Going to a terrain/comfort based system is far easier for students to place themselves in a class and is also very American.

In all reality, I don't think the new system is going to make much difference at the ski school lineup. I think mister macho is going to say to himself, "I am comfortable on that terrain" when he can't do much past defensive wedge turns and the advanced timid person is going to end up in a low intermediate class.

I have been recently informed that our ski school is going to the levels 1-9 system this year and abandoning the beginner-intermediate-advanced system. This years training will also move away from teaching centerline maneuvers.
post #3 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by nolo:

Intermediates move into the advanced zone when they are comfortable on all blue and easy black terrain.

Advanced is divided into Masters of Black Terrain and Beyond Black.
OK, so I'm just a bit confused here (what's new!)
Is there 3 types of Advanced, i.e. Advanced, Masters of Black and Beyond Black?
The way it's worded above seems to say that when you are comfortable on easy blacks, you're no longer an intermediate. Yet a Master of Black sounds to me like someone who is comfortable on mre than just easy blacks.

Can you clarify, please?

Thanks,

S
post #4 of 21
I think that the Zones approach has both pros and cons as most systems do. From the standpoint of segregating students, the student will be able to more easily convey the type of terrain that they feel comfortable skiing. On the down side, from my experience, the type of terrain you ski doesn't always correlate to ability level. Many people who I ski with insist on skiing advanced terrain, but probably don't ski as well as I on intermediate terrain. I think I would have liked a combination of the Level and Zone approach, whereas a student for example could say "I'm a level 5 skier who prefers to ski intermediate terrain."
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
Maybe this will help, Fox. Comfort on all blues & easy blacks is the threshold of the Advanced zone. Farther along, when someone is comfortable on all blacks, he is on the threshold of the Masters of Black Terrain zone. When the person is comfortable in all terrain and conditions found in bounds, she is on the threshold of the Beyond Black zone.

Interesting feedback from sportscoach13. Could being a coach have anything to do with your views on the subject?
post #6 of 21
Sportcoach is definitely on to something. I think those of us who coach any sort of physical activity are aware of how some of our students will place themselves in class levels well beyond their abilities.

Okemo has an interesting set up for their 3 day workshops. In the application, they ask you what terrain you like to ski, and whether you ski it passively, moderately, or aggressively. So you may have a few groups skiing the same sort of terrain, but each group is skiing it at a different speed.

Many instructors will point at that the faster group is not always better!
post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by nolo:
Interesting feedback from sportscoach13. Could being a coach have anything to do with your views on the subject?[/QB]
Nolo

There's no question my coaching background affects my views regarding ski instruction. Coaching in all sports relates to a person or person passing knowledge and guidance on to others for the purpose of improved understanding and performance. I've played competitive sports most of my life, was a scholarship football and baseball player in college, and have coached now for almost 19 years. Having just been around so many coaches (both good and bad) and done it for so long myself, I definitely have my opinions as to what works and what doesn't work in terms of athletic approach. As a relative newcomer to this sport, I'm often struck by the similarities that I can draw from what I do, as compared to what you and the other instructors do in terms of instruction. Now if I could just learn to ski as well I could perform on the playing field, I'd have it made. [img]smile.gif[/img] In the case here, my problem with people labeling themselves based on terrain relates simply to my experience on the hill. Many people call themselves advanced skiers because they can "get down" an advanced slope. We all know that's no indication of ability level. Heck, with my limited knowledge and skiing ability, I'm smart enough to know that even though I can ski advanced terrain that I'm no advanced level skier.
post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by sportscoach13:
On the down side, from my experience, the type of terrain you ski doesn't always correlate to ability level. Many people who I ski with insist on skiing advanced terrain, but probably don't ski as well as I on intermediate terrain.
Ya mean like this guy?

Guy who skis the blacks after three days on skis

Coach, I like your idea about using both systems to get info on the student.

YOT

PS - Something is wrong with the above link. Its supposed to automatically scroll down the 2nd page of that thread to the first post by IndyJones. It does this if you past the url into a new browser window and hit enter, but if you do it by clicking on the above link, it doesn't seem to scroll after opening the new window. Help & sorry.

[ September 02, 2003, 08:26 AM: Message edited by: YoungOldTimer ]
post #9 of 21
Self descriptive commfort level is a fine criterion for class placement, and has many merits, but to discard objective skill level as the primary criterion may be making a big mistake. We have all frequently seen people skiing on the thin edge of control, with minimal skills for the terrain, careening down (or struggling down) a slope, either because they want to keep up with more skilled peers or because of the self-perceived "prestige" of skiing advanced terrain. These skiers will place themselves in a higher comfort zone, and therefore a higher class than their skills should permit. No matter how high a skier's comfort level, there are skills that must be mastered to attain a given level if proficiency. I think that the "ski-off", observed by skilled instructors, may still be the best way of placing people.

That being said, there is a definite place for dividing lessons on the basis of comfort and timidity/ anxiety as well as skiing skills.
post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
I think of the comfort zone as different from the Yikes! zone. The exceptions that you folks are describing sound like people in the Yikes! zone. I can tell when someone is comfortable or in severe Yikes! So can you. So can the person experiencing it.

I don't see that many people in terrain that's over their head at Bridger Bowl, other than during Spring Break. YWMs are incorrigible that way.

Also, people who take lessons tend to be on the conservative side. They are taking lessons as insurance against the risks inherent in the sport, in my experience.

I have to argue for simplicity, because forming compatable groups is not so hard that you have to split hairs about it or make people wonder if they are a 5 or a 6. They're solid intermediate skiers! As an instructor, I am not going to distinguish between a 5 and a 6, because depending on the terrain, the weather, the crowdedness of the slope, and the person, a 5 may become a 6, and a 6 may become a 5.
post #11 of 21
Nolo,

sorry if i'm misreading the "people who take lessons tend to be on the conservative side" note; you're saying that people who take lessons are doing so primarily out of safety concerns?

this may be hair-splitting but it seems to me I don't want to get hurt, which makes enough sense, makes for a starting point a little different from I want to learn how to ski (better).

[ September 02, 2003, 09:46 AM: Message edited by: ryan ]
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
Maybe I am betraying my own bias, Ryan. I cut my teeth in the era when lessons were prioritized as Safety, Fun, and Learning. I would guess those three to be the order in which most people are motivated to take lessons. Certainly I think beginners take lessons primarily so they can learn safely. I have had students who said they were in the lesson to have more fun at skiing, and I have had those who say they are there to learn (the minority), but most say they are there to ski harder stuff safely, particularly those who are preparing to go into the backcountry (or ski the Ridge).

In fact, if it weren't for safety concerns, I don't think I'd have the market for lessons that I do.

[ September 02, 2003, 11:27 AM: Message edited by: nolo ]
post #13 of 21
Just a point of information in re: numerical levels and zones for placing students. We have been using the numerical levels for initial placements . The levels are determined at the SS desk. The students are informed via posters and leaflets. At the initial meeting place we gather the level 1 and 2`s and assign classes. All of the rest are sent to another area for a ski off, where zones come into play and then substantiated by the ski off. Pro`s are then assigned. Assigned private lessons are indeed another story. The desk does the assesment. I guess it`s like a box of chocolates---"you never know what you are going to get". I assess every new private that I take out and then create a lesson plan regardless of the desk assessment.
post #14 of 21
Interesting! I like sportscoach13's application of both.

Quote:
Originally posted by nolo:
.... but to beginner-intermediate-advanced terrain, skills, psychology, motivation, fitness, etc. The new classification is about comfort zones, which relates to our feelings, not an expert's observations, so it is DIY....
I think I understand the 'comfort' aspect. Just pick the terrain you ski without apprehension - right?

Where do the skills fit in? Or doesn't it really matter - 'if you're comfortable on that terrain, that's your level'......lots of items listed in Levels 6-8 that might not be in the bag of someone that is 'comfortable' on a lot of blacks.

Quote:
Originally posted by Pierre:
....The average skiers had no idea what the maneuvers actually were.....
Would 'average' skiers fall into a Zone range or simply be us 'civilians' not in the industry?

Are you referring to the characteristics listed here: Levels Even if a skier doesn't know how to do a maneuver, maybe the knowledge that they are there to learn would provide an impetus to take a lesson to learn them ..... "Oh, yeah, I'm definitely WAY Beyond Black - guess I'll just go ski" vs. "Hmmm,'Clean Carved Round Reaching Short Turn' .... I need to get a lesson and learn what this is and how to do it!" (Please, just an example that came to mind ....not intended to provoke)


Quote:
Originally posted by Pierre:
.....I think mister macho is going to say to himself, "I am comfortable on that terrain" when he can't do much past defensive wedge turns and the advanced timid person is going to end up in a low intermediate class.
Maybe the level descriptions wouldn't mean anything to Mr. Macho, but wouldn't they help the ADVANCED 'timid' skier? I think the characteristics of a level are understandable and recognizable to someone that made it to advanced ....maybe to use together like sportscoach13 indicated or with a different twist "I've got Level 7 skills beat on blues, but I get a bit ragged on the blacks" Although, maybe Mr. Macho might notice "powder and/or bumps" in the listing and take at least one step back!

Personally, I signed up for ESA last year because I wanted to LEARN more, and I would like to have the skills and maneuvers listed 'up on the wall' to refer to, tick off, work towards etc., but I also understand the point that a group of solid intermediates makes a compatible group, even if the skills are not exactly aligned.

Since I don't recall seeing it ....where can I find the "Bob.Peters's test of true all-mountain skills". I have an open spot on 'the wall'!
post #15 of 21
cgeib:
Quote:
Are you referring to the characteristics listed here: Levels
No cgeib, that is about the best descriptions of the levels that I have seen. I was talking about the levels as printed in the 1996 PSIA Alpine manual for use by instructors. I have seen the PSIA list vebatim at different ski resorts. It lists both a terrain comfort and a set of skills. Nobody fits perfectly into the skills because they are for use in evaluating students by instructors.

The list that you showed in your URL is much better than the list put out for instructors in terms of the general public being able to evaluate their ability. Unfortunately the PSIA list was intended for use by instructors as an evaluation tool but resorts were lazy and simply printed something for the public that was, dare I say it, full of jargon.

I think the levels turned out to be like centerline maneuvers. Never intended to be anything but a tool for instructors. As tools for instructors I think both were wonderful. I do see a problem with taking the levels as printed in the 1996 PSIA Alpine manual and thrusting them onto the general public.

Zones is an attempt to eliminate that misunderstanding and misuse by resorts and many instructors. To bad, with Centerline and the levels, PSIA threw out the baby with the bath water to make things clean.

A search through archives will bring up much on centerline if anyone is interested. Its been beat to death.

[ September 02, 2003, 05:08 PM: Message edited by: Pierre ]
post #16 of 21
Now I find another PSIA thing has secretly implanted itself in my mind!
This winter, when working out where to grade new students, my colleagues were asking "what kinds of turns are you doing?". I was asking "what runs are you skiing; are you comfy on them, or struggling a bit...using muscle?".
I stuck with this line as it did seem to get a more honest and useful response.

When you compile a group, to me terrain comfort levels are more important than skill level. If people are in their comfort zone, you can teach them. You might have 6 people at 6 different skill levels, but a competant instructor should have no problem with that. But if anyone is struggling on the terrain, they're not going to learn a great deal.
post #17 of 21
Ant said:
Quote:
When you compile a group, to me terrain comfort levels are more important than skill level. If people are in their comfort zone, you can teach them. You might have 6 people at 6 different skill levels, but a competant instructor should have no problem with that. But if anyone is struggling on the terrain, they're not going to learn a great deal.
I would agree with you whole heartedly but there are situations that make skill level paramount.

Take my home mountain. By the standards of western skiing our mountain is 90% green and 10% blue runs. Not exactly life threatening. On 79 skiable acres we can have as many as 7000 people of which 4000 will take lessons that day. We have stickers that tell what skill level they are at. In a class with 26 kids for 50 minutes if you have kids that are at a different skill level, chances are they will not learn much. The lesson is quite narrowly focused to fit in the time slot and move the kids to the next level. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #18 of 21
From a kid's perspective, my seven year old enjoyed the "old" levels system because it was quick confirmation of his improvement. In a couple of days of ski school he was able to progress from a level one to a level 3/4. He enjoyed that sense of accomplishment as it was confirmation that he was improving. We also enjoyed talking about what specific skills he had to learn in order to get to the next level. It also was a great way to motivate him because the goal of the next level always seemed within reach.

Under the zone system, I'm curious as to whether he will perceive himself advancing more slowly. That instant gratification that Americans crave so much will be harder to come by. (Legally that is)

Don't get me wrong, on a scale of importance from 1-10 (with 10 being very important), this issue is a 2 for me. But, between the two systems, I like the levels concept better from a motivational standpoint with kids.
post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by Pierre:
...I was talking about the levels as printed in the 1996 PSIA Alpine manual for use by instructors. ... It lists both a terrain comfort and a set of skills...
$@!$ - I *know* I have a copy of this stashed somewhere, but can't find it. I'm also pretty sure I have seen it reproduced on Epic, but after spending 20 minutes with the search function, I can't find it this way, either. Can someone give me a URL or reproduce it again?

Thanks,

Tom / PM

PS - Just to make it clear, I am not referring to the simplified level descriptions designed for the public and (for example) quoted in:

http://www.epicski.com/cgi-bin/ultim...=000065#000019
http://www.epicski.com/cgi-bin/ultim...=000568#000001
http://www.epicski.com/cgi-bin/ultim...=001362#000021
http://www.aspensnowmass.com/schools...r=1&hasFlash=1
etc.

I am looking for the full-blown PSIA version. Thanks.

[ September 03, 2003, 08:29 AM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #20 of 21
This levels thing can be quite frustrating. Kids (and their parents) fixate on getting to the next level, and too often their instructors will graduate them, when they ought not! Especially these days, where it seems kids aren't allowed to experience failure. So when the instructor refuses to elevate them because they haven't nailed the requisite skills yet, the kid can't understand that it is incumbent on THEM to gain those skills, not someone else.

I had a 4 year old this season who was terribly upset at being the last (in a group of 4) all the time. He reckoned it wasn't fair. I tried to point out that he was last because the others were skiing faster than he, but he couldn't understand that. (I eventually slotted him in behind me for a run and gave the others strict instructions not to overtake and then he was happy).

This level-bagging tendency amoung people though will see people overstating their skill level, many seem to think that if they get into a group that's more advanced, they'll learn more. I reckon that the comfort zone/terrain thing might result in more cohesive groups.
post #21 of 21
Thread Starter 
Pierre, I see your point, yet the Zones concept seems to imply that the terrain at one's ski hill is one's destiny skills-wise. If the toughest terrain is a blue slope, the bar for achievement is low by Western standards. Just a thought.

In our school the students are grouped A-F (beginner, beginning intermediate, int., advanced int., adv., expert) but one of my first questions always is, what runs do you like to ski? It tells me where to go from here, literally.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching