Know Your Ski Level

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO KNOW YOUR LEVEL?
Improving skiing is so easy if you are in the right environment. Not too difficult, not too easy, just right. So understanding your level, where you are and where you want to be is really important to progress quickly. Most people have heard of the acronym S-M-A-R-T goals. Goals are important whether it’s to improve, ski a run you’ve been wanting to for a long time, cope with ice, not be intimidated by crowded slopes, control your speed on steeper terrain, ski powder, ski a particular resort or country or just have a great time.

With this in mind we are in the process of changing Snoworks levels and fitness descriptions from a numeric based level system which could be open to personal interpretation to a new task based level system in line with S-M-A-R-T goals. Specific, Measurable, Attainable and Relevant. The last letter the T representing Time-Phased is down to you.

We know skiers come to Snoworks for different reasons so SMART goals are not only about improving. For many skiers it’s also about skiing amazing destinations, searching out some great untracked powder, skiing your first Black run or just skiing with other skiers of similar levels and having lots of fun. The social aspects on a Snoworks course can be as important as improving.

To have great fun, ski with confidence and improve you need to be skiing the right terrain for you. The Snoworks levels therefore equate to pistes and commonly known mountain environments that everyone knows. The first few levels correspond to resort pistes. Greens, Blues, Reds and Blacks so it’s really easy to estimate your level.

From Blacks we then move off-piste and we’ve differentiated off-piste between ‘Frontside Off-Piste’ and ‘Backside Off-Piste’. ‘

‘Frontsiide Off-Piste’ is within resort boundaries between lifts. ‘Backside Off-Piste’ is out of the resort boundaries. These are two phrases that many ski manufacturers now use in relation to their equipment, so they are beginning to be commonly used by skiers. They are simple descriptions and it’s easy to match your level to these two environments once you understand them.

If you’re a competent ‘Backside Off-Piste’ skier then next comes ‘Steep and Deep’ and lastly ‘Extreme’, both pretty self explanatory.

You’ll notice we don’t use words like ‘good technique’, ‘parallel’, ‘nice style’. These are all open to interpretation. Getting down a Red run or Black run or staying upright and in control in off-piste is not. These are measurable activities. Moving from judged to measured performance is one of the Snoworks philosophies and encourages development of your own individual style whilst learning the skills to move around the mountain confidently. Measured not judged performance.

The levels:

  • Greens & Blues
  • Blues & Easy Reds
  • Reds & Easy Blacks
  • Frontside Off-Piste
  • Backside Off-Piste
  • Steep & Deep
  • Extreme

Improving your skiing is a continuum so it’s not a case of moving from one level to the next. It’s more about moving through the levels, so these are what we call benchmarks. You may also be quite happy at your level and not necessarily have a desire to improve, preferring to enjoy your skiing, ski great places with an instructor or guide who has local knowledge and have fun. It’s completely individual.

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SNOWORKS LEVELS IN MORE DETAIL

GREENS & BLUES

Currently these early skiing levels are not in the Snoworks programme as most beginners and novices tend to book their ski lessons via their tour operator, hotel or chalet. The minimum level for our current courses is to ski confidently on all Blues and easy Reds. However we recognise that many couples and groups coming with Snoworks may have members of their party at this early level. So if you are at this level and coming on holiday with skiers that have booked a Snoworks ski course we can help. We can recommend ski schools or instructors in the resort and make sure you get the most from your ski holiday. If there are a few of you at the Green run stage we may be able to organise a Snoworks course for your level or private instruction with a Snoworks instructor. Call our office for details.

photo: Nick Quinn, Snoworks instructor, with a group.

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BLUES & EASY REDS

Your entry into the Snoworks Ski Courses programme and a whole new world of skiing. This is where your journey into All-Terrain can start. You have reached the level which is commonly known for many skiers as the ‘Intermediate Plateau’.


photo: Lee Townend, Snoworks instructor, getting stuck into some technical stuff.

Where you are now
You can ski all the Blues confidently and some Reds providing they are well pisted, with good visibility and good snow. You start to struggle when the snow texture and terrain on Reds become more varied, ice starts to appear, bumps begin to form, the runs become steeper, crowded or narrow, fresh snow falls or visibility goes.

This is where Snoworks is in a class of our own. You’re moving from what we call the ‘closed’ environment into the ‘open’ environment. From terrain which is constant and predictable to terrain which is varied and unpredictable.

Where you want to be
Skiing Reds and worrying that the terrain could be too difficult is not fun. We want to make skiing at this level fun and enjoyable and give you the confidence to accurately control your speed on all Blues and Reds whatever the conditions. You may even develop the confidence and skill to begin tackling a few easy Blacks

Fitness needed to join a course at this level
You’ll be skiing for a 3 hour period each day and you’ll need to be able to up get up unaided in the event of a fall. Hot chocolate stops are occasionally included in the event of bad weather! That’s definitely a measured activity!

If you are around this level we recommend a Snoworks All-Terrain course.

Check out the course dates for this level

You can also read a few of the blogs we’ve specifically written for skiers at this level.

Why intermediate skiers should come skiing with Snoworks
Intermediate to competent all-mountain skier
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REDS & EASY BLACKS

Welcome to the world of all-mountain skiing and new experiences.

 

photo: Emma Carrick-Anderson, Snoworks instructor, discussing the art of skiing.

Where you are now
You can ski all the Reds whatever the conditions and confidently ski easy Blacks. You may have difficulty with more difficult Blacks, when they become icy and bigger bumps start to develop. You have no or minimal off-piste experience.

Where you want to be
You are probably keen to take your skiing to a new level and may be ready to develop the skills to tackle Blacks whatever the conditions. Are you keen to ski steeper slopes, bumps, ice, ski faster with more control, slow down quickly when needed, cope with variable snow and terrain and even ski more competently in bad visibility?Do you also want to learn the skills to begin your first steps off-piste in a safe environment? Do you want to open those hotel curtains in the morning when it’s snowing heavily and say ‘oh yes, what a day!’

You’ve come to the right place. Snoworks has literally redefined the art of all-mountain skiing – so ‘open your mind’ to a whole new world of skiing.

Fitness needed to join a course at this level
To join this level of course you need to be able to ski on Reds and easy Blacks for a 3 hour period, be able to get up unaided in the event of a fall and be ready to begin your journey into easy off-piste skiing in a safe environment.

We recommend Snoworks All-TerrainOff-Piste Courses during the winter along with Summer and Autumn ski courses to develop your skiing before the winter arrives.

Check out all the courses for this level

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BLACKS & FRONTSIDE OFF-PISTE

Frontside off-piste is between lifts within the resort boundaries. It’s a term many ski manufacturers use to describe their all-terrain skis so this term is beginning to be commonly used.

photos: Top, skiing Frontside off-piste on a GAP course in Tignes. Bottom. Skiing Frontside off-piste on an All-Terrain course in La Tania.

Where you are now
You can ski all Black runs whatever the conditions and have some off-piste experience. You are confident to ski off-piste between ski lifts within the resort boundaries where the terrain is generally more skied and often has a firm base beneath the new fresh snow.

Where you want to be
You may be very happy at this level as you can ski most places around the resort. You are happy on all the marked runs and off-piste between lifts providing the snow is not too deep. You may want to develop skills just to get better at what you can already do. You may also be keen to develop your skiing to a higher level and begin venturing off-piste ‘Backside’ away from the resort boundaries where the snow is often untracked, deeper with no firm base. You may also want to get more competent skiing more difficult bumps and terrain along with developing higher level piste skills.

You are at the level for most of the Snoworks Ski Course programme, You can join in all of the All-TerrainOff-Piste along with some of the All-Terrain Safari’sBackcountry, and Backcountry Access courses. Check with the office as we begin to tailor some of these courses specifically for this level. You may also be interested in joining a Summer and Autumn ski course to develop your skiing before the winter arrives.

Fitness needed to join a course at this level
To join this level course you need to be able to ski non stop on all Blacks and off-piste Frontside for a 3 hour period. You also need to be able to get up unaided after a fall in off-piste without removing skis. If you are booking a BackcountryBackcountry Access you need to have a fitness level to ski off-piste all day.

Check out all the course dates for this level

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BACKSIDE OFF-PISTE

‘Backside Off-Piste’ is away from the resort boundaries where the snow is often untracked, deeper with no firm base. It’s a term now regularly used for manufacturers describing their off-piste skis.

photos: Top, skiing Backside on a Backcountry Course in Ste Foy from the top of the Foglietta. Bottom. Skiing Backside with Snoworks instructor Euan Gardiner towards Bonnevale from the top of Fornet, Val D’sere on a Backcountry Access Course.

Where you are
You can confidently ski Blacks whatever the conditions, are happy skiing bumps, cope with ice and steeper slopes and can happily ski in bad visibility. You also have the experience, confidence and ability to ski off-piste away from the resort boundaries and ski lifts – Backside where the snow is often deeper and less skied with no firm base below the surface.

Where you want to be
You may be happy skiing at this level as you can get around almost everywhere on and off-piste. You may be looking for great skiing experiences and to ski places you would only go with instructors and guides. You may also want to improve. At this level you can still learn skills to ski more demanding terrain, more difficult bumps, steeper terrain and deeper snow and develop higher level piste skills.

You are at the level for all of the Snoworks Ski Course programme. You can join in all of the All-TerrainOff-PisteAll-Terrain Safari’sBackcountryBackcountry Access and Adventure courses along with the Summer and Autumn courses. You may also be keen to get involved in some race training in the autumn or summer.

Fitness
To join this level course you need to be able to ski non stop off-piste Backside for a 3 hour period on the All-Terrain and Off-Piste courses. If you are booking a Backcountry or Backcountry Access course you need to have a fitness level to ski off-piste Backside all day (except for breaks for lunch). If booking St Anton you’ll also need to be ready to party straight ofter skiing in the Mooserwirt! (optional).

Check out the course dates for this level

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STEEP & DEEP

Photos:
Top, skiing ‘Steep and Deep’ on the
Japan Adventure.

Bottom, well away from the beaten track ski touring high above the fjords on the Norway Adventure

Where you are
You’re are at a level where you can competently ski everywhere on and off-piste whatever the conditions, whatever the steepness, whatever size of the bumps and depth of the powder. You are confident to ski couloirs providing they are not verging on vertical! You are probably not up for hot chocolate stops midway through the mornings off-piste skiing!

Where you want to be
As a confident advanced off-piste skier you probably like to make the most of your time skiing. Searching out the best snow, the best terrain and skiing with people equally as competent as yourself. You may be very happy with the level you’ve reached and are looking to ski places where you need instructors, guides and local knowledge. You want great snow and great skiing experiences. You may also still want to improve, developing skills to do what you do even better.

You are at the level for all of the Snoworks Ski Course programme. You can join in all of the All-TerrainOff-PisteAll-Terrain Safari’sBackcountryBackcountry Access and Adventure courses along with the Summer and Autumn courses. You may also be keen to get involved in some race training in the autumn or summer.

Fitness
A good level of fitness is required. You probably work out, swim lanes, run, cycle or hill walk regularly throughout the year. You’re going to be skiing steep slopes and deep snow all day (except for lunch stops).

Check out the course dates for this level

PRO courses for this level
As an ‘expert’ skier you may also be interested in our Pro Race CoursesInstructor Training weeks and GAP Courses.

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EXTREME

photos:
Getting air on the Gressoney Backcountry.
Going even deeper in Japan.
Heading high on Chile 7 Volcanoes.
Race Training in the autumn in Tignes.

You are a very competent all-mountain skier with a fitness level to ski hard and fast all day everyday. You can ski everywhere on the mountain on and off-piste whatever the depth and texture of the snow, whatever the steepness of the terrain and whatever the size of the bumps. You can ski really steep couloirs and are happy to ski ‘exposed’ places. We recognise the better you get, the harder it is to find people to ski with and share those experiences. Our office can direct you to certain weeks where there are other skiers the same or similar level or you can book on any course for the ‘Steep and Deep’ level. You will still have an amazing time.

Fitness
What can we say? You are very fit.

Check out the course dates for this level

 

PRO courses for this level
As an ‘expert’ skier you may also be interested in our Pro Race CoursesInstructor Training weeks and GAP Courses.

 

Adventure (1) All-Terrain (15) Backcountry (32) off-piste (27) Race (1)