Despite spending most of their time skiing, a big percentage of skiers can’t define their ability level. Many of them categorize themselves as expert, intermediate, or beginners. However, there are other skiing ability levels you should beware of. In this post we shall discuss:
- The different ski aptitude levels
- Pistes, piste ratings, and ski levels colors and
- How to improve your skiing skills
Understanding Ski Ability Levels
One of the best ways to get the best out of your ski lessons is to choose the ability level that’s most suitable for you. Here are the ski levels every skier should know about.
Novice skiers fall in this category. Here, you will discover how to use your skiing equipment, how to slide down the hill, and how to stop with the help of a snowplough. Further, you will acquire knowledge on how to slightly change direction while skiing along the green terrain.
While skiers in this level have prior skiing experience and can stop, they still are in the beginner category. They can slightly change direction and use a snowplough confidently. In this level, you will learn how to enhance your snowplough turns. This way, you will be able to control your speed along the green slopes, dodge barriers, and follow your desired terrain.
Skiers in level 3 can connect snowplough turns along a beginner slope. Here, you will learn how to execute a parallel position turns using your skis. This will help minimize pressure on your legs and enable you to ski along the green terrain faster and with more control.
Skiers in level 4 are nearly parallel along green runs. However, sometimes the skis remain in a snowplough. Here, learners will improve their turns to ensure their skis are parallel all the time. This way, the skier will be more confident to ski along a steeper green terrain and simple red slopes.
Skiers in this ski level are parallel and do not need a snowplough along the green terrain. They are also nearly parallel albeit with a snowplough along the red terrain.
Lessons in this level focus on mastering various skills such as edging to ensure learners enhance their grip while skiing. This enhances a skier’s ability to regulate speed and comes in handy to assist with skiing along the red slopes. Learners will also get introductory lessons to broomed black slopes.
Skiers in this level are entirely parallel along the red terrain and nearly parallel along the black terrain. Here, they get introductory lessons to off-piste skiing, skiing over small snow bumps, and practicing along the beginner terrain park.
Instructors focus on enhancing a learner’s strategies and variations in their turn size. This allows the learner to regulate feel and speed along steeper red terrain, off-piste terrain, and black runs with ease. This level enhances a skier’s terrain park skills.
Skiers in level 7 can ski parallel along groomed black runs confidently. This level involves executing parallel turns and practicing in the powder, trees, and bumps. At this point, skiers can navigate through intermediate terrain park with ease.
Instructors will focus on improving your skiing ability along all black runs. Skiers will try different strategies and movement patterns in the powder and moguls. If you are aiming at skiing at the terrain park, the instructor will help you master challenging tricks on a bigger terrain park.
Skiers in this level can confidently carve short turns, groomed runs, mogul lines, powder, and trees. Once you get to this level, you become an expert and can ski all terrain. This level focuses on reinforcing and perfecting your expertise to enhance performance, efficiency, and knowledge in different turn types on all terrain.
Remember, the skills you focus on improving this level depend on your goals. You can choose from steeps, powder, moguls, carving, terrain parks, or freestyle.
What is Piste?
A piste is a marked ski path or run down a mountain. It’s used for snowboarding, snow skiing, and multiple mountain sports.
How is Pistes Maintained?
Piste maintenance is executed using tracked vehicles referred to as snow ploughs or snowcats. These play the role of grooming or compacting the snow to remove bumps, form an even trail, and distribute snow to expand the ski terrain. Often, natural snow is intensified with snowmaking machines when the snowpack is poor or early in the season.
A piste rating is a sign that shows ski slopes and their complexity. Usually, ski resorts execute piste rankings. While the rates could be similar, skiers shouldn’t assume that the ratings in different resorts are similar.
Ski levels colors are used in piste classification. The colors vary from one country to the other. All countries, however, use blue to signify easy, red to show intermediate level, and black for expert level.
While shapes aren’t used, all ratings are often circles as stipulated in the German Skiing Association (DSV) rules. The three key DSV color codes included in the Germany DIN 31912 national standards and Austria’s ÖNORM S 4610 f.
All slopes marked blue, green, and red are groomed in all countries in Europe. Black slopes are only groomed in some countries such as Italy, Switzerland, and Austria. Many black slopes in France are groomed while some aren’t groomed.
Often, slopes are marked on a ski trail map as dashed or dotted lines. In some cases, this can also indicate that the slope hasn’t been groomed. The ski levels colors are as follows.
Green signifies beginner or learning slopes. While these are unmarked trails, they are open, large, and slightly sloping areas along the foundation of the ski area. They can also be crisscrossing lanes along the main paths. Sometimes they are marked with a green circle.
Blue signifies an easy path. These are usually groomed and lie on a shallow slope. Often, the slope angle doesn’t surpass 25% unless it’s a short albeit wide section with a greater angle. Paths with this ski levels colors also feature blue squares in various resorts for intermediate skiers.
Red indicates an intermediate slope that’s narrower or steeper than the blue slope. Often, these are groomed except when the trail is too narrow to allow it. Usually, the slope angle doesn’t surpass 40% unless the sections are wide with a greater angle. These slopes are often marked as a red rectangle.
Black signifies expert or advanced slopes. These are usually steep and can be groomed or not. They could also be groomed to facilitate mogul skiing. Black pistes in some countries such as Switzerland, Italy, and Austria, almost all black pistes are groomed. Non groomed pistes, on the other hand, are marked as itineraires or ski routes. Some black pistes in France are groomed while others are not groomed. Many times, black can be a vast classification. These could range from a more complex slope than the red slopes, to overly sharp avalanche slopes.
Orange or Yellow
Orange or yellow in some countries signifies overly complex pistes. Many resorts have recently upgraded some black slopes into yellow slopes to signify a free-rider route, itinéraire, or ski route.
These are ungroomed and unguarded routes meant for off-piste skiing although they are marked and guarded against avalanches. Sometimes ski routes are marked with a red diamond with a black outline or just a red diamond. The former is usually more complex.
How to Enhance Your Skiing Skills
Do you want to become a better skier? Here are tips to help you improve your skiing skills.
Have the Right Gear
Feeling comfortable and wearing sufficient clothes is critical for effective skiing. With the growing popularity of skiing, the market is filled with different ski gear. Choosing the best that suits your needs can be challenging.
Before you purchase skis, understand your skiing level. You also need to identify where you will be skiing on the mountain. Purchasing the right gear for your terrain is critical. When buying skis, for instance, ensure that they are not too stiff.
Bending or turning stiff skis can be difficult. This also applies to boots. If you purchase overly stiff boots, you will have difficulties bending or flexing your ankle.
Enroll in Ski Lessons
Regardless of your skiing training and experience, there will always be something new too. Whether you choose a group or private lessons, the training you receive will help you improve your skills.
Watch the Experts
Ski technique and the structure of skis have evolved in the last decade. Carving skis, for instance, have eased skiing and piste navigation. Fat skis, on the other hand, have eased off-piste skiing.
Many skiers have different skiing techniques and styles and some have managed to upgrade their tricks by taking lessons. One of the best ways of improving your posture and balance skills is by watching experienced skiers. A good place to do this is at the Les Elfes International Winter Camp. Here you will find skiers of all skill levels with excellent facilities to perfect your skiing.
Often, professional skiers will ski faster and harder than you and you can gain lots of experience from following them. For instance, are you struggling with getting confident enough to maintain a straight line in bumps? You can perfect your skills by following an expert and maintaining the same line.
Knowing your skill level helps you enroll in the ideal lessons. The more skiing experience you gain, the easier you will manage to navigate through pistes with varying ski levels colors.