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What Level Lesson Should I Be In?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi

I have booked to go skiing this winter. I've booked beginners lessons for when we are there, although I have been having private lessons at the dry slope in Norwich. I've been told that complete beginners lessons will be a little too basic for me and that I should look at improver/intermediate lessons. I am concerned though that I don't want to be out of my depth and join a group that is too advanced for me.

Your suggestions as to what level group I should book into would be really helpful ....

I've been signed off to ski unsupervised and am skiing from the top of the main slope (which I understand is a red)
I am currently doing snow plough to parallel turns
My technique/stance isn't great!
I am incredibly unfit and not particularly brave!
However, I do have quite a few more lessons planned before I go.

Thanks.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Don't worry about it, just ask when you get there.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@ilovegreece, welcome to snowheads!
Depending where you go they will usually sort out groups according to level first thing - so maybe not that important what you put your level as.
I was in a similar situation a couple of years ago, had lessons before we went away - mostly not on real snow. On the first day was asked to do 2 turns for grouping - skiied terribly due to nerves and the unfamiliar slipiness of real snow - and ended up in the beginner group (with my wife who had only had a few lessons before). At the time I was a bit annoyed with myself - but had a great week and really solidified everything I'd learned, even if I never went off a blue piste all week. With hindsight that was much better than being stuck at the back of a group of much better skiiers, struggling to keep up, and really set me up well for subsequent holidays.
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Thanks. It's just that, because I have already booked the lessons, I assumed I may need to let them know before we go that I've had some lessons. Someone else did say that they thought they would just put me up a group if necessary and, as mentioned, I don't want to be in a group which is too good for me and makes me really nervous.


Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Sun 30-10-16 1:32; edited 2 times in total
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I think the ski schools are very used to under confident intermediates booking as beginners and vice versa - so don't worry it will all work out. And if you do feel too stretched have a chat with the instructor.
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Personally, I would ask before you go if they have options for you to change once there. Our first holiday (last year) we were in exactly the same position as you. We started beginners and spend a morning side stepping up the hill but alas we weren't able to go up a group to improvers as it was full.

In reality we found snow very different to the dry slope we learnt on so it kind of evened out but that first day was a grind.

So although I agree with @telford_mike in that don't stress about it, they'll asses you and move you if they can, although I'd probably want to sew the seeds before I get there. Wouldn't hurt to call them and get their view.

Also, don't worry about unfit and brave. I'm the same and again I was scared witless on that first holiday but with experience it becomes easier so whereas greens scared me, moved past that, blues and edges scared me, moved past that, reds are now where I'm at and they're getting ok too.

good luck and welcome to Snowheads snowHead

p.s. took ages to type this and all I needed to say was yeah what Tubaski said Very Happy
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Thanks everyone.

Thinking about it, it wouldn't be the end of the world if I was in a lower group as it would build my confidence and get me used to snow, and I could go on slightly more difficult runs outside of my lessons if I found I was doing OK. I think my concern was that I didn't want to end up in a total beginners lesson where they teach you how to put your skis on, how to use the lift and do a snow plough etc, as that could be a waste of money.

I will give the ski company a call and have a chat.

Thanks again.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
In my experience if you're in a large ski school at a bigger resort the beginners group will be enormous on the first day. Then they'll gradually cream off those who are coping well on the easiest slope, forming other groups. This tends to be the people with bits of experience from years ago or a few lessons on the dry slope, but could also include fast learners who are total beginners. Smaller ski schools and smaller resorts have less flexibility with groups.
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I disagree with most of the advice being given. If you book in to a complete beginner course you will start with the basics; e.g. this is a ski, this is a binding, shuffle around getting used to being on skis, etc, etc. You will waste a morning/afternoon lesson. The biggest risks is finding there is no space in the next level up and being stuck in an inappropriate group.
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@ilovegreece, if the ski company means tour operator, and they are a large multi resort operation, I wouldn't expect the person on the phone to have much useful information.

Much better to find out which ski school and phone them.
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I would agree that it would be best to speak to the ski school if you can. We first learned the basics at Norwich dry slope and when we enrolled for lessons there seemed to be just a few stark choices, "beginners", "intermediates" or "advanced". We didn't think of ourselves as beginners so signed up as intermediates. We had to meet our group at the top of the chair lift. Our problem was that we had never been on a chair lift and we had no idea what to expect. As we were getting near the point of having to get off I told the lady next to me that we were chairlift virgins and asked for advice and she just said "leave it to the last minute". As it happened this chairlift had a steep run off and we were totally unprepared, and by the time we realised we should be getting off our skis could not touch the ground and we had to jump off and ended up as a tangled mess of skis, poles, legs and arms sliding down towards the waiting onlookers Embarassed Once we sorted ourselves out we had to ski down in deep snow (very different to the dry slope!) falling over a few times before we made it to the instructors. Having made it down the instructors soon sorted us out into the right group and then had a brilliant week and became totally hooked snowHead
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@ilovegreece, Hi, Myself and JanetS are both Instructors at Norfolk Snowsports Club. From what you say you are doing, having been sighed off you are a very long way above beginner standard. Allowing for more lesson (are you doing Fast Track to Parallel?) you will easily be at Intermediate standard. The only thing I would suggest is that if possible try to "have a go" on snow when you arrive, before going to your lesson, just so you are not taken by surprise by the difference and ski poorly and get put in too low a group. I would also suggest you talk to your instructors at the club - they will be very happy to give advice, as we all love talking about skiing! (We do instruct for fun after all!)
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
It's a hard question to answer for someone else and to some extent depends on your attitude and personality.

Ideally, one would hope that you would end up in a group above those who have never set foot on skis...otherwise, why do the lessons.

Though, it is worth bearing in mind, as said above, plastic is quite different...but snow, once you have got used to the extra slipperiness, is easier.

I have come across timid skiers that had some experience, but who liked going back into the beginners. It gave them more confidence by being one of the best in the class, as opposed to the pressure of being the one holding everyone up (not that you will be that person).

I'm the sort of person who likes the challenge of being pushed by the standard of a class....for others, it removes what confidence that they have gained (which isn't good, as a huge element of skiing is confidence).

As said above, I think that ringing the ski school for a discussion is the right way to go on this.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
http://www.insideoutskiing.com/level.html

Have a look...
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
I wouldn't worry about it too much. It will depend a bit on the size of the resort and what time of year you are going.

If it is a medium to large resort and you are enrolling in one of the main ski schools during the main season then I doubt you will have any issues.

As long as there are enough numbers they will usually split the 'beginners' up on the first day into two or more groups basically depending on whether you have ever put a pair of skis on or not. But they will keep all the groups lapping the same nursery slope so the instructors can see how all the students are getting on and they might even shuffle the students around during the first lesson.

By the end of the first lesson they will have probably formed a 'beginner' and a 'beginner plus/improver' group(s). The intermediate group will probably stick around fairly near during the first lesson as well in case there are any students who are clearly struggling in that class or if there are any 'beginners' who are really not beginners who they might want to move up.

The instructors are usually polite enough about asking people to move up/down groups (sometimes people don't want to move up a group because their partner is in the lower group or they don't feel confident enough etc). Everyone learns at different speeds and some people are more shy or more overconfident about their abilities, the ski schools are used to seeing that.

At the end of the day it's in the instructors' interests to keep the abilities of each group roughly matched so they can spend more time working on teaching things that will help everyone in the group and exploring the mountain rather than flipping between someone still struggling with their snowplough and another student who wants to carve down icy black runs...
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
ilovegreece wrote:

I've been signed off to ski unsupervised and am skiing from the top of the main slope (which I understand is a red)


As somebody who learned indoors (so albeit snow, not dry slope) one thing I would warn you of is that I have never seen anything indoors (with perhaps the exception of the 'black' run at Dubai) which can be compared to a real life red run. I'm not sure how the dry / indoor slopes get their gradings but they're certainly not parallel. I skied what I was told was a red on the indoor slope and got a nasty shock on my first ski trip, where I spent the first run on a red and the next 3 days on blues after mother nature had knocked me back down a peg or two!!

Bear in mind that whilst the slope gradient might be similar, the dry slope will change snow condition during the day; it will not freeze and leave big patches of concrete-like ice; it will not suffer from low cloud that leaves no visibility beyond 10 metres; etc etc. And besides anything, the dry slope is relatively short. Some blue and red runs might go on for over a mile, and might feature things you're not confident to ski, with nowhere to go instead (although, granted, this will also be what helps you brave up and improve).

My personal advice, having learned indoors and made the progression to outdoors, would be to take a beginner lesson and see how you feel. You will probably learn things about skiing on the snow that you'd not picked up having learned on a dry slope, and basically it's better to learn some things twice than to skip something you didn't get taught on the dry slope, and wake up in hospital wishing you'd known it.

Your first real snow holiday will be a huge learning experience. Stick to the easier stuff and focus on getting a really solid technique. A really solid technique, with practice, will take you anywhere. Lunging down a black run, hopping from crisis to crisis, just to say you've done it - won't help you progress and will only more likely get you into some bad habits which compromise your progress.

And don't forget there is the Snowheads Make Yourself a Snowheads Bash (MYASHBASH) in January - if there's still spaces left then for a good price you get a whole week's ski instruction, and plenty of time on the pistes with a good mix of experienced skiers to help you along.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
As other say, don't worry - if you are much better than your group you will soon go up and vice versa. Just enjoy the week, you will improve incredibly quickly over that time.

p.s. I can't believe that your dry slope equates to an alpine red. You'll have a better idea after your week.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
If you book beginner lessons you will most likely be learning what a ski is and how to put it on etc.

How people with skiing experience are graded after that will depend on the ski school and resort you go to.

Many places will ask those with experience to ski in a grading session on an easy slope, so that they can be graded and put in group of learners of similar standard.

There is usually the facility to be moved to a different group as people progress at different rates during the course.
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Don't worry about what group etc... Usually you'll be asked to go a short way up a slope - which might be a magic carpet or a short drag lift - and asked to ski down. The instructors will be stood there and will sort out the groups accordingly.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
If you have booked your lessons through a tour operator you could visit the ski school they use the day before your lessons start and explain (in exactly the way you did in your first post) what you can do on skis. This will give them the best info when allocating you to your (initial) group. Terms like "beginner" or "intermediate" aren't very helpful.
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I think everything's been pretty well covered here but I'll just chime in to simply say 'trust the instructors.' They don't want you in the wrong group any more than you want to be in it, so I wouldn't concern yourself too much. In my experience they'll suggest you 'move up' if you're clearly more advanced than the others in your group.

At this point my OH's skiing journey seems somewhat relevant so here goes. She learned on dry slopes a few year ago and booked into 'beginners' ski school for our first ski holiday together (in Andorra). On the first morning the beginners group was split into people who had literally never put skis on before and those who were already snow plough kings. She was placed into the latter and made amazing progress over the following week. Her skiing came on really well, but it was her increased confidence which was most noticeable. The next year in Italy, she panicked after her first experience of the terrifying, first morning 'ski off' when she got ushered towards the 4th of 5 groups (if memory serves), and found herself with fellow skiers who'd had 6 or more weeks on snow. Her nervousness aside, on reflection it was 100% the correct place for her to be and she made fantastic, almost annoying (!) progress yet again.

For her, being with higher ability (or at least higher 'experience') skiers definitely helped but crucially it was the instructors who saw that it's where she needed to be rather than the 'weeks on snow' rating which people often seem to talk about. And remember, ski school isn't all about skiing technique in the very early days- someone already mentioned chair lifts- but there are a few things to pick up on the mountain for which dry slopes can't really prepare you.

Most of all, just enjoy it. I'd love to experience that feeling of the first time skiing on snow again. Actually, my backside would probably disagree!!
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Don't they do the 'test' on the first day anymore? Used to be a wizened over tanned gnome in Austria with a fag hanging out of his mouth....you do your best and he directs you to the relevant class/level.... Very Happy
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
The "test" isn't for beginners, there is nothing to test. Having people who have even a small amount of experience in a beginners group can lead to issues such as loss of confidence as real beginners wonder why they can't do what others in the group can. What we normally do with beginners groups is ask who is an actual beginner ànd who is cheating and separate them accordingly. As the week goes on there is usually some movement between groups so everyone ends up in the correct place.
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I suspect the term for you is beginner improver - basically a second week skier. Don't forget that most 2nd week skiers will have muscle memory that is a year old so as a frequent drysloper you will have an advantage.

As others have said just make sure you get used to the slippiness of snow. Can only speak from very ancient experience but having learned on a dryslope both my brother and I as teenagers were plonked straight into an intermediate level group as teens. More recently but still fairly ancient history I went from boarding dryslope lessons direct to offpiste as snow was SO much easier than bristle.
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
As others have said just make sure you get used to the slippiness of snow.


I had the problem the other way round. I'd done about a day on real snow and then went to a dryslope with a mate who was a complete beginner. I didn't quite have to revert to a full snowplough but I definitely found it a lot trickier. Of course it didn't help that I was overconfident and it had been a year since my one day on snow anyway!
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Gaza wrote:
I disagree with most of the advice being given. If you book in to a complete beginner course you will start with the basics; e.g. this is a ski, this is a binding, shuffle around getting used to being on skis, etc, etc. You will waste a morning/afternoon lesson. The biggest risks is finding there is no space in the next level up and being stuck in an inappropriate group.


+1 for this view. You will spend at least a day being taught stuff you already know. My advice would be to get the lessons in before you go, work on your fitness, even an ever lengthening evening walk will help immensely. When you get there go on a a nursery slope and have a few runs before you do the 'test' so that you're warmed up and used to the real stuff and your muscles remember what to do.

If its a good ski school they should be able to facilitate class moves if need be but they would be unlikely to guarantee it.

Where are you going? Its quite likely that somebody on here knows the resort well and quite possible that they will know the ski school folks as well?
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I'd second what @RobinS said, ask advice at the ski club - they're a great bunch! My daughter and I joined 'Ladies Club' there, and we're hooked. Son-in-law wishes they had a similar club for men...

Also, do you have time to go and try a bit of fake snow before you go? I snuck off to Hemel - a day's pass cost me about £36 - before our first ski holiday and it sure helped to have my "Damn, snow is SLIPPERY!" moment in privacy. I skied happily the whole day, working on the same things as we had done on the dry slope and found it SO much easier - once I got used to it!
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
We were complete beginners two years ago taking our first lessons, but after a few days my sister was moved up a group - this was with Prosneige in Val Thorens so I'm sure they will have some flexibility if you are in group lessons as multiple levels will start at the same time and they can move you accordingly. Though I was a much slower learner, I did find the latter end of the week lessons a bit slow-paced as you have to essentially go by the ability/pace of the 'worst' person. I was able to meet up with my sister in the afternoons though and explore new areas, if you have someone else better than you this is a great idea as I found the lessons 'warmed me up' and then by the afternoon I was more confident (though I still only went on a blue run on the last day which was rather scary for me at times!)
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
hammerite wrote:
Don't worry about what group etc... Usually you'll be asked to go a short way up a slope - which might be a magic carpet or a short drag lift - and asked to ski down. The instructors will be stood there and will sort out the groups accordingly.

But not generally beginners, as they assume you've never skied before.

I'd suggest not just assuming that you'll be able to move groups - check in advance. Not all ski schools are that flexible about moving people or have enough groups at different levels to do so.
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
sugarmoma666 wrote:
hammerite wrote:
Don't worry about what group etc... Usually you'll be asked to go a short way up a slope - which might be a magic carpet or a short drag lift - and asked to ski down. The instructors will be stood there and will sort out the groups accordingly.

But not generally beginners, as they assume you've never skied before.

I'd suggest not just assuming that you'll be able to move groups - check in advance. Not all ski schools are that flexible about moving people or have enough groups at different levels to do so.


Yes best to double-check with the ski school beforehand about flexibility.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
robboj wrote:
Gaza wrote:
I disagree with most of the advice being given. If you book in to a complete beginner course you will start with the basics; e.g. this is a ski, this is a binding, shuffle around getting used to being on skis, etc, etc. You will waste a morning/afternoon lesson. The biggest risks is finding there is no space in the next level up and being stuck in an inappropriate group.


+1 for this view. You will spend at least a day being taught stuff you already know. My advice would be to get the lessons in before you go, work on your fitness, even an ever lengthening evening walk will help immensely. When you get there go on a a nursery slope and have a few runs before you do the 'test' so that you're warmed up and used to the real stuff and your muscles remember what to do.

If its a good ski school they should be able to facilitate class moves if need be but they would be unlikely to guarantee it.

Where are you going? Its quite likely that somebody on here knows the resort well and quite possible that they will know the ski school folks as well?

Completely agree. It's a couple of decades ago now, but my wife and I both learned to ski on a dry slope and booked into early intermediate classes in resort. We're glad we did. Friends on the same trip who had dry slope experience had a few frustrating days as they re-learned how to use their bindings, how to stand up when they fell over, and how to do a snowplough. Don't put yourself through it - go straight to the intermediate class.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
In my experience, "beginners" pretty much means "never seen a ski before".
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