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"advanced" vs "intermediate" skier

 Poster: A snowHead
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@Kramer, when I was still trying to learn how to ski off piste, which I've now given up doing, I was stuck between Inside Out's Levels 7 and 8. Now I'm trying to stay at Level 7, without regressing further and, as you say,
Quote:

The reason that I've regressed is because the amount of time, money and effort needed to stay at that level (not to mention the carbon footprint) remains significant
plus fitness and confidence are poor bedfellows of old age. Sad
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I guess the terms have utility if two people communicating with each other have a better idea of what they are referring to when using the terms than otherwise.
Whether it is a rough idea of what level to pitch lessons at , what ski to rent or what slopes/snow conditions you want a guide to take you on.

An observation on race training is that I know of quite a few kids who have done extensive race training on plastic and the better ones find it pretty easy to adapt to various snow conditions due to a combination of the skills they have acquired and their balance and athleticism.
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In the context where it becomes relevant to know what to call yourself, the distinctions are between different grades of recreational skier. I would call myself an expert recreational skier. I would never bother comparing myself with serious racers. (Nor have I ever had any interest in racing or competitive skiing of any sort. For me it is a waste of good skiing time. But that's just me.)
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@Hurtle, I've come to realise that there's little benefit (other than a level of notoriety in certain corners of the internet) in being the best mediocre skier. wink

These days I enjoy the social aspect of it. I still do practice a few drills every now and again when I'm on an easier slope, but I don't push myself anything like I used to, because there doesn't seem much point.

I prefer mountain biking these days because it's something that I'm still making progress on, it's not so weather dependent, and it's much easier to access at a decent level in the UK. Plus I can buy skill. wink
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skimottaret wrote:
We tried to quantify Off Piste skiing Levels as a lot to do with experience and confidence... In addition to technical ability, fitness, confidence and experience plays a role. We use our self assessed guides to help put people in the right groups and steer them to the best option in terms of holidays or training indoors.

https://www.insideoutskiing.com/offpistelevel


I think the euro off piste skills are generally a lot lower than n America. I've got down things like STS couloir with decent style, which would probably put me at an "expert" level on your scale (granted I'm adapting it for snowboarding not skiing). But I'm very far away from what I would consider expert.

You have to remember because of the avalanche controlled in bounds many in n America are skiing off-piste a lot. It's normal for intermediates to be taken off piste by instructors. Hundreds are skiing fwt faces (truth and dare and ozone) every day at kicking horse. I've shown a few Brits around at kicking horse who gave it the whole "advanced, can get down anything" to be quickly humbled by what "advanced" terrain really looks like (clue: not a groomed euro black piste).
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@Kramer,
Quote:

I've come to realise that there's little benefit (other than a level of notoriety in certain corners of the internet) in being the best mediocre skier

Other than feeling that you're continuing to make some progress (see later in your post)? That's certainly a factor for me, which is why I continue to take lessons.
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boarder2020 wrote:

I think the euro off piste skills are generally a lot lower than n America.

You have to remember because of the avalanche controlled in bounds many in n America are skiing off-piste a lot. It's normal for intermediates to be taken off piste by instructors. Hundreds are skiing fwt faces (truth and dare and ozone) every day at kicking horse. I've shown a few Brits around at kicking horse who gave it the whole "advanced, can get down anything" to be quickly humbled by what "advanced" terrain really looks like (clue: not a groomed euro black piste).

While I agree with the latter statement I take umbridge with your overall conclusion. Yes, I've skied Kicking Horse, in less than perfect conditions, and yes, it has some pretty hairy pitches, no question. But I could show you runs in Engelberg, for instance (lived there for ten years) which would rival anything there, and you'd see a really very high standard of skiing by most people.

There's probably a much lower proportion of British recreational off-piste skiers who are truly expert than there are some other nationalities, like the Scandies who made up much of Engelberg's clientele, but I can't agree with the very broad generalisation you start out with in the above post.
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boarder2020 wrote:
skimottaret wrote:
We tried to quantify Off Piste skiing Levels as a lot to do with experience and confidence... In addition to technical ability, fitness, confidence and experience plays a role. We use our self assessed guides to help put people in the right groups and steer them to the best option in terms of holidays or training indoors.

https://www.insideoutskiing.com/offpistelevel


I think the euro off piste skills are generally a lot lower than n America. I've got down things like STS couloir with decent style, which would probably put me at an "expert" level on your scale (granted I'm adapting it for snowboarding not skiing). But I'm very far away from what I would consider expert.

You have to remember because of the avalanche controlled in bounds many in n America are skiing off-piste a lot. It's normal for intermediates to be taken off piste by instructors. Hundreds are skiing fwt faces (truth and dare and ozone) every day at kicking horse. I've shown a few Brits around at kicking horse who gave it the whole "advanced, can get down anything" to be quickly humbled by what "advanced" terrain really looks like (clue: not a groomed euro black piste).


And again, it depends who/what you are comparing to...
Ozone is decently hard and intimidating for anyone, but last time we we there (freeride Norams, so some talent concentration happening!) , some of the kids when freeskiing decided that recreating the Max Hitzig* line was the way forward - including pyramid backflip! Shocked Madeye-Smiley

* and to @Chaletbeaurocs point, I believe Max Hitzig grew up skiing in Austria, and he seems to do alright off-piste! Madeye-Smiley


Last edited by After all it is free Go on u know u want to! on Mon 11-12-23 14:20; edited 2 times in total
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@Chaletbeauroc, Yeah, I 'd agree, I'm not sure you'd see much difference between "locals" if you were to compare. Brits on holiday a different matter, vs. locals anywhere Twisted Evil
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Kramer wrote:
@Hurtle, I've come to realise that there's little benefit (other than a level of notoriety in certain corners of the internet) in being the best mediocre skier. wink



Pffft. I’m clinging onto my boast of being the most extreme skier in my office for as long as I can Laughing
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Hurtle wrote:
@Kramer,
Quote:

I've come to realise that there's little benefit (other than a level of notoriety in certain corners of the internet) in being the best mediocre skier

Other than feeling that you're continuing to make some progress (see later in your post)? That's certainly a factor for me, which is why I continue to take lessons.


That's the key for me. The reason that I do many of my hobbies is to feel that I'm learning something and making progress. When that progress slows significantly then it made me reflect on the other reasons that I did it, and realise that I could fulfil those needs in other, easier to access ways.
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boarder2020 wrote:

Go to any sporting coach (running, badminton, golf etc.) and ask them how you can reach an "advanced" level while practicing only 7-14 days per year and they will laugh and tell you that is ridiculous.


To expand on your point. There is a difference between 7 days getting up at 10am then visiting the mountain restaurants for another gluhwein or stroh and 7 days targetted skiing.

Sportpeople are generally doing around 20 hours per week of sports. Up to 1000 hours per year with up to half sport specific - that is skiing for skiers but also a lot of gym work, cross training, coordination etc. No wonder cyclists spend 80% of their training time "pottering" along.

But we are talking expert level, not advanced. I guess an advanced skier probabaly has 500 to 1000 hours skiing under their belts over a few years.
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Socratic skiing - once you know you know nothing, you're getting to a solid level Shocked
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You know it makes sense.
Quote:

But I could show you runs in Engelberg, for instance (lived there for ten years) which would rival anything there, and you'd see a really very high standard of skiing by most people.


Of course. I'm sure I could go to places like Chamonix and la grave and find things way more extreme than kicking horse. My point is that skiing ozone is a normal thing. People take their little kids up there, groups of early teens go up on their own etc. It's much more accessible than similar type of terrain would be in Europe.

Quote:

I'm not sure you'd see much difference between "locals" if you were to compare.


There's no difference in the top guys. I do think there's more of an off piste culture in n America. It's rare to see anyone other than race group kids on a piste ski out there. The accessibility of off piste definitely plays a role in that. I suspect the percentage of those that are "decent" off-piste is probably higher in n America. Although the flip side is that euros probably better piste skiers overall. I'm certainly not saying one group is overall better than the other, just that on average they probably have different strengths. (But yes there are plenty of fwt euros and plenty of Olympic downhill n Americans!).
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boarder2020 wrote:


There's no difference in the top guys. I do think there's more of an off piste culture in n America. It's rare to see anyone other than race group kids on a piste ski out there. The accessibility of off piste definitely plays a role in that. I suspect the percentage of those that are "decent" off-piste is probably higher in n America.



I'd like to ski in those resorts because nearly all the French resorts I ski in get tracked out within hours of fresh snowfall. These days the accessible ski touring will also get tracked out.
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Surely if everybody is skiing the off piste in America it gets tracked out quickly?
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Pyramus wrote:
The truth is I don't think there is such a definition and use of "Intermediate" or "Advanced" terminology is basically meaningless.

I tend to agree. Think it's much better but longer to ask a few questions about a skiers profile to make the judgement.
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On the OP, I think those Inside Out guys do a good job of defining what they need to know if you go for a lesson with them.

If you wanted to "group" people for heli/ cat skiing, you don't need so many "levels". I used to have to do that thing. There's no point at all in asking people for their opinion of their own ability, you need instead to ask them what they've done, what they like to do, how many weeks they've skied so far this season, that sort of thing.

But if they boast about "getting down blacks", or "how fast they ride" they are novices wink
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FWT champions
France = advanced
US and the rest = intermediate
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^^^^^^
What's driving that? Drop outs from the race programme?
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gorilla wrote:
^^^^^^
What's driving that? Drop outs from the race programme?


Nah, apparently racers aren’t much cop off-piste. wink
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Kramer wrote:

"Expert" means that you've been paid to do it at some point.


Are you including instructors in this? Because there's plenty of instructors, myself included, that I wouldn't say are expert, and being perhaps brutally honest, many i'd say are only intermediates!
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swskier wrote:


Are you including instructors in this? Because there's plenty of instructors, myself included, that I wouldn't say are expert, and being perhaps brutally honest, many i'd say are only intermediates!


I've not seen many L4's I'd describe as intermediates.

L1 and L2 yes, maybe, but they are intermediate qualifications.

Also see a lot of the ski club racers who are very good off piste too, like shredding it.
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snowdave wrote:


My definition of "advanced" would be "doesn't need high end kit to ski almost anything at a high standard". My definition of intermediate would be "thinks the gear makes much of a difference" Happy


By high end kit, I assume you’re talking about skis and boots. Does high end kit improve people’s skiing?

The last time I hired skis, I was given some dynastars near the top of their range. Super heavy, super stiff. 1st day, lovely conditions and I was fine with them. Turns out the skis had made me work harder than I realised. Day 2 and it was warm… everything got cut up, lumpy and bumpy plus my legs felt wrecked. I just couldn’t do enough and keep good enough technique to make these skis work for me. I stopped for lunch, googled the ski I’d been given and most reviews described them as an advanced piste ski.

I went back to the shop and asked for some skis that required a little less work. They swapped them out for some much lighter Fischers that nearly everyone else hiring seemed to be using in Fieberbrunn and my afternoon was transformed. They were just so much easier to ski and I felt my skiing improved using a middle of the road ski.
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@swskier, for expert to have its normal meaning I would say that it has to include fully qualified instructors, I.e. those equivalent to BASI level 4. You can always have a category above that called elite for competition skiers.

If one were to try and sort the entire population of skiers into beginners/intermediate/advanced /expert then each category would need to be very broad and expert many peoplewho this thread is saying it shouldn't. Someone who has 50 days on snow but still doesn't like black runs or off piste and can't carve their turns properly but gets around the mountain competently on blue and red runs isn't a beginner so I would class them ad intermediate. Therefore I would class someone who can carve in easy conditions, can ski everything on piste fluidly amd can ski standard off piste terrain as advanced. Expert would then cover anyone good enough to race or whose off piste skiing was recognisably freeriding or was a top level instructor. This roughly aligns to the inside out skiing levels.

Reserving expert for sponsored pros doesn't, I don't think, make sense from a language perspective. I think that DH mtbing has it right, expert is the category beneath elite which will be mainly comprised of talented weekend riders who still have a normal full time job
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Layne wrote:
Surely if everybody is skiing the off piste in America it gets tracked out quickly?


I skied a week in UT and Snowbird might as well have been pisted wall to wall. Nice bumps though.
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It’s real easy to tell the difference - how big is your grin.

Cheeks hurting = advanced

Anything else = have a think about why you are doing it
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rambotion wrote:
Reserving expert for sponsored pros doesn't, I don't think, make sense from a language perspective.


Agreed. That's why I'd include piste patrol, fully qualified instructors and guides in the "expert" group.

Expert, to me, means that at some point your expertise has been such that someone is willing to pay for it.
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rambotion wrote:
I think that DH mtbing has it right, expert is the category beneath elite which will be mainly comprised of talented weekend riders who still have a normal full time job


In mountain biking green is beginner, blue is intermediate, red is advanced, black is expert and orange is "pro" line. However the risk and consequences in mountain biking are far higher than skiing, and many harder trails can only be ridden with a full commit approach ie you can't do them slowly.
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Whitegold wrote:
Global skier ratios are roughly at this level in 2023 (rounded).

Beginner = 25%
Intermediate = 70%
Advanced = 5%
Expert = 1%

Steep bumps and ice are the litmus test.

Speed, poise, grace, directness, stillness, calmness, predictiveness, always in total control.

You know it when you see it...


These discussions are often not about trying to get good objective descriptions of skiing ability and much more about either ego-polishing or humble-bragging.

I think the inside out levels are the best attempt at useful objective description of skiing ability that I have seen.

The distribution that Whitegold describes is rather intuitive but also not very useful. If 70% of skiers are "intermediate" then describing yourself as an "intermediate" doesn't really say much. After all the difference in skill between someone at the 31st percentile and 95th will be large and the weaker skier will simply not be able to enjoy many of the things that the stronger skier can.

I tend to agree that really good skiers tend to have some background in racing but that is IN PART because people who spend a lot of time in ski resorts as a kid tend to do some racing. When I worked my ski season I spent a bit of time skiing with a Scot who was working his first season as an instructor in France after qualifying. We had heard that he had nuked the speed test when he did it because he had a strong race background and he was clearly a better technical skier than the rest in the bunch on the occasions I skied with him. But when the offpiste conditions got tricky (and this was 2m skinny ski days) the wiley multi-season saisonaires could teach him a thing or too. Now I'm sure it wasn't long before his technical base an ability overcame his lack of offpiste experience but the latter makes a difference too.

IN a much more minor way, I see it today skiing with my kids (18 and 20 and been skiing since they were 3 with multiple trips a year, plenty of instruction, not much racing). They have better natural balance than me and strong base technique but in the round I can still just about out-ski them and particularly when conditions get difficult - dodgy snow offpiste or challenging bumps. I just have a few more tricks up my sleeve. I'll get a "how are you doing that?" and I'll tap my nose and tell them to keep working at it - got to keep these little secrets to keep them in their place Very Happy *

(*not really! It's more fun to give them tips but it's often subtle stuff - just skiing a bit more two-footed / putting a little edge check in to generate rebound / loading the outside by retracting the inside etc etc_)
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Quote:

Agreed. That's why I'd include piste patrol, fully qualified instructors and guides in the "expert" group.

Expert, to me, means that at some point your expertise has been such that someone is willing to pay for it.


Of course if you've actually been paid for your skiing itself (prie money, sponsors, video parts, national governing body etc.) you are almost certainly an expert. However, for those not getting paid directly for their skiing

Plenty of people with a few weeks on snow doing level 1 courses and then paid to teach. I wouldn't consider them "experts". I'm doing a day of paid ski guiding this winter - I'm no expert, I just happen to be more familiar with the area than anyone else available.

There are likely some great coaches who have an expertise level knowledge of the sport, but ski at a much lower level. An example outside skiing would be Glen Mills (Usain bolt coach), an elite level coach but was never more than an intermediate sprinter himself.

There are people getting on the podium in very competitive freeride comps that have never been paid at all, but I'd consider expert.


Quote:

The distribution that Whitegold describes is rather intuitive but also not very useful. If 70% of skiers are "intermediate" then describing yourself as an "intermediate" doesn't really say much. After all the difference in skill between someone at the 31st percentile and 95th will be large and the weaker skier will simply not be able to enjoy many of the things that the stronger skier can.


It's a little more complicated as assuming skiing follows a normal distribution curve most people will gravitate to the middle. So the "distance" between 35th and 65th percentiles may be smaller than say 90th to 95th percentiles.

For example example I know a guy who is probably 95th+ percentile skier (2* fwt podium) The gulf between him and the top 1% guys on fwt is absolutely huge. Arguably similar gulf from low intermediate to high - although I think we have to think of that as a sliding scale rather than a hard limit. Of course the best intermediate will be close to the weakest advanced.

For all its flaws perhaps the eurotest is a decent option for a rough quantification of ability. But really the eye test is enough to get you in the right ball park, and even then it's probably not of much use knowing.
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Quote:

It's a little more complicated as assuming skiing follows a normal distribution curve most people will gravitate to the middle. So the "distance" between 35th and 65th percentiles may be smaller than say 90th to 95th percentiles.

I agree with that and even more between 95th and 99th - doesn't mean that the gap between 35th and 65th isn't really material though! For example I doubt you could sensibly take someone at the 35th on a long off piste descent but someone at the 65th you probably could.
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dupe


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Tue 12-12-23 16:36; edited 1 time in total
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boarder2020 wrote:
Although the flip side is that euros probably better piste skiers overall. I'm certainly not saying one group is overall better than the other, just that on average they probably have different strengths. (But yes there are plenty of fwt euros and plenty of Olympic downhill n Americans!).


I suspect that plenty of European leisure skiers are just as good or bad as Americans and neither really do bumps or off piste. It's certainly easier to develop a decent off piste skillset by being able to access controlled terrain safely without the need for a guide or education. And maybe in some places snowfall patterns also help.

I don't see a lot of difference in the spectrum of ability either side of the pond and the more "resorty" somewhere is the chances that average skill levels will be lower i.e. places like Red Mountain or a two lift Austrian hill may have quite high standards from the local weighting.

I find the whole thing of wanting to rate and rank one's skills in a leisure setting bizarre. Which is why the entire industry behind SCGB's levels always seemed overconvoluted as a means of saying to people "look your skills aren't really at this level". The last thing I want to do is hold others back by tagging on to them. Surely you ski with who you like and if it works out you do more of it.



Edit to add you're not wrong about KH. I went a couple of years ago and had real mental difficulties with the pitch of a run that was no big deal when I lived in Canada.
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:

I find the whole thing of wanting to rate and rank one's skills in a leisure setting bizarre. Which is why the entire industry behind SCGB's levels always seemed overconvoluted as a means of saying to people "look your skills aren't really at this level".

Yes, it was always a contentious issue, especially when you had to downgrade someone. The levels were only really used as a minimum standard for some holidays, particularly off piste ones where it could really throw things out if (or when, in practice) you got someone who just wasn't up to the standard and you don't have enough people.or groups to accommodate them. I had to suggest people go off with an instructor for a day or two on several occasions, thankfully always working out well to everyone's satisfaction.

In the last few years when I was still doing it (up to about 2019) they dropped a lot of the mid-levels, like the plus and minus levels, to simplify, and holiday gradings were done on a slightly different basis, starting from the premise of "if this person turned up on a X-level holiday that you were leading would you be happy about it?". So even less emphasis on technical skills, which in any case were only ever referenced if people wanted to do the tests, and more on keeping up or being a liability type of thing. And indeed ISTR that the grading cards themselves by then also stated that this was purely an indicator of holidays for which they would be accepted.
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"I find the whole thing of wanting to rate and rank one's skills in a leisure setting bizarre. Which is why the entire industry behind SCGB's levels always seemed overconvoluted as a means of saying to people "look your skills aren't really at this level". The last thing I want to do is hold others back by tagging on to them. Surely you ski with who you like and if it works out you do more of it."

it only has any use before you've seen them ski
- which ski group should they START in
- which runs would you recommend to them
- which gear should they take from the hire shop
etc.
apart from that it's
Quote:

more about either ego-polishing or humble-bragging


Years ago when I used to go on ski holidays in shared chalets there would always be one bloke trying to size everyone up for their skiing ability.
"Are you a good skier?"
(shrug)
"I worked a season so I am OK for a British holiday skier"
was the (arguably pass ag) response.
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Last proper chalet hol I took I'd already weeded out at dinner people to not bother skiing with on grounds they'd brought their own snowblades etc. Then in the boot room in the morning I pulled out my Redeemers to which I suspect the reaction was more "all the gear no idea" than "must be almost a pro" adulation. Fortunately it was a powder day and they did deliver as they did in slush later in the week.
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Chaletbeauroc wrote:
Dave of the Marmottes wrote:

I find the whole thing of wanting to rate and rank one's skills in a leisure setting bizarre. Which is why the entire industry behind SCGB's levels always seemed overconvoluted as a means of saying to people "look your skills aren't really at this level".

Yes, it was always a contentious issue, especially when you had to downgrade someone. The levels were only really used as a minimum standard for some holidays, particularly off piste ones where it could really throw things out if (or when, in practice) you got someone who just wasn't up to the standard and you don't have enough people.or groups to accommodate them. I had to suggest people go off with an instructor for a day or two on several occasions, thankfully always working out well to everyone's satisfaction.

In the last few years when I was still doing it (up to about 2019) they dropped a lot of the mid-levels, like the plus and minus levels, to simplify, and holiday gradings were done on a slightly different basis, starting from the premise of "if this person turned up on a X-level holiday that you were leading would you be happy about it?". So even less emphasis on technical skills, which in any case were only ever referenced if people wanted to do the tests, and more on keeping up or being a liability type of thing. And indeed ISTR that the grading cards themselves by then also stated that this was purely an indicator of holidays for which they would be accepted.


+1 or 2
I think this is where some level of recreational skier grading is required.

I was fortunate enough in my Whistler seasons to have an unlimited lesson pass, this meant I did a lot of group skiing which was fun, but it was always interesting to see how people categorized themselves.
Quite amused by one particular Extremely Canadian camp where an ex US Navy seal (apparently) got upset that he had to ski with me and another former brit because we wouldn't be able to keep up (which at first glance at the two of us perhaps he could be forgiven for, but he overlooked the little point that we skied in race camps and ExCan every week!) - he was done by lunchtime of the first day! Very Happy


Last edited by After all it is free Go on u know u want to! on Tue 12-12-23 17:30; edited 1 time in total
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Chaletbeauroc wrote:
Yes, it was always a contentious issue, especially when you had to downgrade someone. The levels were only really used as a minimum standard for some holidays, particularly off piste ones where it could really throw things out if (or when, in practice) you got someone who just wasn't up to the standard and you don't have enough people.or groups to accommodate them.


My sense is that (deliberately or otherwise: I suspect otherwise) it serves mostly to keep people emotionally invested in skiing with and being members of the club, rather than looking too hard at other TOs' offerings. I spent the second half of a week in January skiing with someone who'd been having boot issues, including a large blister, and who got a (fortunately minor) dose of the yips, and was petrified about being downgraded from purple+ and not being excluded from a purple/gold trip later in the season: that kind of preoccupation is a kind of brand loyalty, I guess.

Lots of people talk about 'ability' or 'technique' (as if they're things to be measured on a single scale in any case) as being important when it comes to group composition. I'd suggest that for most purposes they're a lot less relevant than a tendency to (or tolerance for) faff, or a preference for a certain number of coffee stops (or lunch of a certain duration), or even a desire to stop by the side of the piste mid-run vs chatting mostly on the way up.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
Last proper chalet hol I took I'd already weeded out at dinner people to not bother skiing with on grounds they'd brought their own snowblades etc. Then in the boot room in the morning I pulled out my Redeemers to which I suspect the reaction was more "all the gear no idea" than "must be almost a pro" adulation. Fortunately it was a powder day and they did deliver as they did in slush later in the week.


I got some jip for mine when I turned up at the bubble in Les Contamines with mine. A nice thing about Les C is that the lifties are generally smiley and give you a friendly word. When I was fitting them in to the snowboard slot the lifty grinned at my mates and said "where's he from? Chamonix?". They found it very amusing. In my defence SpyderJon had done me a very nice deal on old stock Embarassed
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