Evaluation of Level 9 Skier
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JohnL
March 17, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Some questions for the DC-area ski instructors.

From skipros.com, explanation of a Level Nine skier:
"You can ski black diamond bumps, steeps, and varied snow conditions comfortably."

1) When teaching on your local hill, can you make an accurate assessment as to whether a skier is a Level 9? In other words, is the local terrain sufficiently rigorous to isolate the differences between Levels 7, 8 and 9?

2) If so, what specific skiing skills/form on what trails under what conditions would you make the evaluation?

3) What sort of instruction do you have for Level 9's?
PhysicsMan
March 18, 2004
Member since 11/20/2001
218 posts
The problems in trying to accurately define the upper levels of recreational skiing has been discused ad nauseum over on Epic. For starters, take a look at:

http://www.epicski.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=4;t=001362#000000

http://www.epicski.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=4;t=001939#000000

etc.

My take on the particular definition you quoted is that it's a wussy, make-the-customer-feel-good definition. Personally, I prefer either a simple percentile based definition, eg, something like "9's are better than 99% of all skiers currently active in the world". Or, something a bit more meaty like:

"Ski bumps with short or long-radius turns, ski tracked up deep powder, spring slop, hard frozen coral reef, steeps, runs gates, uses the carved turn as your principal turning method; into organized skiing as a racer, coach, race official, L2 or above certified instructor. Ski everything described above on all slopes with grace and authority."

Q#1 - IMHO, you can pretty easily distinguish 7's from the 8's and 9's, but may have a tougher time distinguishing the top two levels. OTOH, if the purpose of distinguishing them is for placement in ski school classes, it really doesn't matter since there will likely be no other 8's or 9's taking lessons at the same time, so you will almost always wind up with a private lesson customized to the specific inadequacies of your own skiing. "Levels" really are only important to place people into compatible groups for effective lower level group lessons.

Q#2 - See my "meaty" definition, above.

Q#3 - At Whitetail and Liberty, we have numerous PSIA Level 3's, trainers, division clinic leaders, and even a guy rumored to be en route to PSIA Examiner status. These folks regularly work with ski instructors who would be 8's and 9's on the recreational skier scale. If a 9 suddenly showed up at lineup for a group lesson, my guess is that his self-assesment will be checked for "over optimism" by a L-II, and then if the L-II feels he can't coach the guest effectively (unlikely), he'll be handed off to a L-III. Of course, the better route would be for the guest to set something up ahead of time with a specific high level instructor.

Tom / PM
Roy
March 18, 2004
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
PhysicsMan hits it on the head.

I was a first year ski instructor at Liberty. When I got there and looked at the list of levels, I said I was an easy 8. I had skied for 15 years (on and off and the last 6 solidly). I took instructor clinics twice a week. I would now say that I've worked myself up to be a 7 again. Needless to say, I was not the skier I thought I was.

One of our clinicians has said that he has enough exercises that can make our mountains seem huge. It sometimes takes us an hour to get down 1 run because of the exercises we are working on.

To sum up my ramblings, yes we can teach Level 9's something. I agree with PhysicsMan that calling ahead of time to make sure there is a sufficient instructor on hand. Weekends there is not as much problem. During the week, it may be iffy sometimes.
JohnL
March 19, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
I originally started thinking about what level of skier I may be by the recent ski equipment thread. Someone stated they were a Level 7 skier as a reference point and I thought it would be useful if I could convey a reference point in my ski recommendations. When I came across the Level 1 - Level 9 definitions on skipros.com, I was really surprised.

1) The definition of the upper level was way too broad, seems like there is a significant difference between the lowest and highest skiers in the Level 9 category.
2) I firmly believe that terrain and conditions expose weaknesses in a skier. The definition didn't take that adequately into account.

After reading the threads on Epic, seems like most of the posters there agree with point 1. (I realize that just about anything ski-related is discussed in intricate detail on Epic, I was curious to get a Mid-Atlantic perspective.) The Aspen poll was interesting, since I was there in early March. Depending upon how you interpret the evaluation of the highest Aspen level, it is either too broad or too much of a jump between the it and the next lowest level. I do ski "anything, anywhere, anytime" at Aspen, but plenty of my turns have serious weaknesses in them during the toughest stuff. (But I've also ripped up some of the toughest stuff under bad conditions. Some good turns, some bad turns. That's why I come back for more.)

I would expect the highest level on any scale would have at most one percent or so of the typical mountain skier. I definitely wouldn't put myself in the top one percent nor at the very top of any skiing ability scale, but I would put myself at worst in the top five percent (including locals, instructors, ski patrol, etc.) on any big mountain out West.

WRT point 2, terrain/conditions exposing weaknesses; I've been on ski trips to Whistler/Blackcomb where the worst skier in our group was a PSIA Level 2 (Whitetail/Seven Springs). This person's skiing really broke down on the blacks - W/B blacks are pretty tough. It was probably a combination of lack of experience with the steeps and softer snow conditions and lack of fitness. The skier's form was very solid on the groomed runs.

Roy, I agree with doing skill drills on the local day-trip hills. If it wasn't for them, I'd go crazy from boredom. The ultimate drill: one-legged skiing with the boots unbuckled holding your ski poles in front of you. Through the bumps. (Haven't progressed to that one yet!)

I am thinking about doing the Roundtop (or Liberty) race classes next year. I finally have an East Coast set of skis that will hold up in the gates.
DCSki Sponsor: Canaan Valley Resort
Roy
March 19, 2004
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
Slow down John. I'm still trying to learn how to ski on one leg. Plus, I just learned how to properly buckle my boots (tight enough for adequate response from foot to ski).

Terrain and conditions really bring out flaws. I had 2 ladies in their 50's who said they had skied 3 times before. I took them on the bunny hill and they had perfect wedge turns, speed control, stance, balance, etc. I was blown away. Then I took them to Sneaky Pete (at Liberty) and every flaw they had came out. I had no idea what to work on until I got them to different terrain, even though it was still a green.

My point is that the Levels 2-9 are all very broad and can be interpreted differently by different people and instructors. Only Level 1 (never skied before) and 10 (which we say is an Olympic skier so no one qualifies on our mountains) can be easily identified. There's a lot of human interpretation on these levels (which of course we always get right [Smile]
Otto
March 19, 2004
Member since 11/19/1999
176 posts
I have been teaching at Lib for 10 years, have my L2 cert, and serve as a clinician for the ski school.

Insofar as the numbered questions are concerned:

1. Is the local terrain sufficient to make a determination if someone is a 7, 8, or 9?

Definitely. A good instructor can tell by watching four turns on almost any local blue or black trail.

2. If so, what specific skiing skills/form on what trails under what conditions would you make the evaluation?

This really requires a four or five paragraph answer. I would start on an intermediate trail, go steeper if neccessary and then go to bumps.

Personally, I think the whole level thing starts to smear together at level 7, and could care less if someone is "really" an 8 or a 9. Once you get past someone who is a strong open parallel skier, you start looking for more subtle things like what the inside foot is doing, flow from one turn to the next, and early commitment of the center of mass to the turn etc. etc.

3) What sort of instruction do you have for Level 9's?

Can't answer that. If somebody really is a 9 it would depend on what I saw. Moreover, I would expect a 9 to have a pretty d*amn good idea of a particular issue or problem they are bringing to the table.

My first thought is that it really is a mistake to take this level thing too seriously. I teach a lot of upper level lessons and don't think I have ever seen a true "9" as a student in all the years I have taught. If I thought about it,I probably would say I am a "9" on a good day.

Why do you care if you are a 7, 8, or 9 anyway?

That being said, could a real "9" get their money's worth out of a lesson at Liberty (I can't speak for other mountains). I think so. Physics Man sort of nailrd this one already. A level 3 could any time. Some Level II's could teach a 9, some never will be able to.
JohnL
March 20, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
quote:
Why do you care if you are a 7, 8, or 9 anyway?

See earlier post on this thread concerning ski recommendations. If you are giving a recommendation for a pair of skis you need to consider your type/level and the type/level of skier the person using the skis. A previous DCSki poster labeled themselves as a "Level 7." I never heard of this level scale before and it got me interested.

For the above reasons, a labeling scheme has it's uses for quick discussions. Given how anal PSIA seems to be, I'm surprised the recreational skier level scale was not MIL-SPECed.
PhysicsMan
March 20, 2004
Member since 11/20/2001
218 posts
>...If you are giving a recommendation for a pair of skis you need to consider your type/level
> and the type/level of skier the person using the skis...


Up to a point. When someone is an 8 or 9, the most appropriate skis for them will vary more by intended use and their weight, rather than on whether they are an 8, and 8.237, or a 9. [Wink]

Somebody at this level may well have a bump pair, a teaching pair, one or more race pairs, etc. OR, they might just have a single pair, if for example 90% of their time on the hill is teaching.

With respect to skis for recreational skiers, I tend to think about them in broad categories:

- 1, 2, and 3's should rent and are in one group - short, longitudinally softer and torsionally somewhat softer for the most forgiveness, ie, beginner's skis.

- 4's, 5's, and 6's, can either rent or buy intermediate skis, ie, a notch up in stiffness and length (appropriate, of course to their weight).

- 7's, 8's, and 9's buy whatever hi-end ski they need appropriate to their particular application.


Tom / PM

PS (in edit) - BTW, just to make one thing clear, coming down Snowpark at 30 mph in a power wedge, streaking by all the ski school classes, and holding on for dear life does not make one (or one's kid) an advanced skier. I saw someone who had just became a 3 do it on their second day of skiing.
Otto
March 20, 2004
Member since 11/19/1999
176 posts
I am with PM on this one too. I can't imagine a ski appropriate for a 7 that wouldn't work for a 9 or the other way around.

Anybody at the 7 to 9 level should get the top of the line for whatever is they want to do with the ski and where they are going to use it.

Anyway, the only way to know if a ski is good for you is to ski it. Unfortunately, even though they try to a limited extent, the industry makes that either expensive or difficult.
JohnL
March 20, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Using the level descriptions on ski pros: http://www.skipros.com/levels.htm

First of all, are these the official PSIA descriptions? I wasn't able to find any descriptions on the PSIA site...

Sounds like the ski instructors are having a drastically different interpretation of the levels than my interpretation. My interpretations are based solely on the text provided. Level 7 sounds like a relatively accomplished intermediate on groomed runs but has a good deal of trouble on non-groomed runs. (Most double blues and blacks are not groomed.) Based on the "description" alone, that describes most intermediate skiers. I think there is a tremendous difference in the desirable ski for this type of skier than a level 9. Based on the "description" alone, the level 8 doesn't sound like all that great a skier, but the instructors seem to think it's an extremely accomplished level.

I guess my main conclusion is that the descriptions totally suck and do more harm than good (cause more confusion than understanding.) Especially if they are going to be used by the general public.
Otto
March 20, 2004
Member since 11/19/1999
176 posts
I think the descriptions on the skipros web site are off the mark.

Oddly, I couldn't find the official descriptions anywhere on the web:

Got these from a PSIA (maybe outdated) text, they are paraphrased a bit:

Level 7: Short radius parallel turns in the fall line, medium and long radius carved parallel turns across the fall line. Applied to a wide variety of trails and conditions, including all groomed single black diamond runs.

Level 8: Dynamic parallel turns. Adapting skills, size of turns, and tactics to powder, variable conditions and bigger bumps. Pressure shifts to outside ski prior to turn initiation. Center of mass moves into direction of turn. Simultaneous edge change. Inside leg steering, progressive edging creates a guided arc. Pole swing coincides with extension and draws body into the the turn.

Level 9: Skis in all conditions and terrain. Selects appropriate tactics for the above. Able to ski bumps, powder, crud, etc. Has full inventory of appropriate turn shapes, movement patterns (X-under, X-over, retraction turns).

A little less vague than ski pros, probably not real helpful. But some of the things listed are harder to achieve and seen less often than one might suspect. Note that the level seven standard calls for CARVED medium and short radius turns (not skidded). Level 8 calls for simultaneous edge change. A lot of instructors who fail their Level II exams do so because they don't have simultaneous edge change when challenged by terrain or multi-tasking. Some of the other things listed, like pressuring the outside ski PRIOR to initiation are also things you don't see as often as you might think.

As for level 9, not much of a description but I don't quite make it because I have had about 4 days of real powder skiing in the last 15 years. I can ski bumps all day at age 47 (and prefer icy ones if its not too steep), but I am no longer comfortable in powder deeper than my shins.

Of course, these are all words and good skiing is only slightly easier to define than the legal definition of obscenity. You know it when you see it.
JohnL
March 20, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Otto,

The definitions you provided require much, much more skill than the corresponding ski pros definitions. For the most part, I understand what they're talking about. Pure carved short radius turns is definitely advanced technique. Level 7 appears to be groomed run expert, i.e., only very minor tweaks to groomed run technique is required.

To humor me, could you explain what
quote:
Pressure shifts to outside ski prior to turn initiation.
means in a bit more detail. What is the definition of turn initiation? Is it when the skis are pointed down the fall-line or when you are in neutral (skis flat)? Seems like it has to be fall-line.
PhysicsMan
March 20, 2004
Member since 11/20/2001
218 posts
>...The definitions you provided require much, much more skill than the corresponding ski pros definitions...

IMHO, there is a significant discrepancy between (a) the definitions usually put out by ski schools for public use to help people sort themselves out when showing up for a group lesson and (b) the level definitions used internally by PSIA and its members.

IMHO, the "public" definitions are too easy and imprecise, whereas the PSIA ones use terminology that few recreational skiers have even heard before, let alone can apply accurately to themselves.

I think this discrepancy is unfortunate because it indeed causes occasional misunderstandings, but not ones in the area that the scales were really designed to be used - namely, splitting ski school classes. Most people don't realize this is the real function of the scale, and instead try to use the scale to rate themselves. Usually, they get confused/perturbed when they come out an 8 or 9 on some scale (which sounds like they should ski like gods), but know in their hearts that one out of every two skiers they see on black runs are better than them, and they simply can't be the "ski gods" that the numbers seem to say.

I doubt that the discrepancy will suddenly rectify itself because the current scales tend to make guests feel good, and the exact numbers at the high end don't matter in any important way to instructors.

If anyone wants to wade through pages and pages of discussion on this topic, it's all on Epic. I believe I put a link to one of the relevant Epic threads in this thread.

Fortunately, when push comes to shove (ie, somebody shows up for a group lesson and claims they are an 8), the instructors understand this is probably a "public" "8" and the main effect will simply be that the number is high enough that it will probably get the student a private at group rates. During the actual lesson, whether the guest said 7, 8, or 9 really doesn't make much difference since the instructor will make his own individual evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses, and offer a highly, individualized lesson (probably private) based on his assessment, not the number the student initially gave.

In addition, no self-reported number is ever believed 100%. Instructors and lineup supervisors always chat with the student, and can quickly tell from the words and body language that the kid whose parents claimed he is an 8 and "skis double blacks", probably barely survived his one run down such terrain.

HTH,

Tom / PM
JohnL
March 20, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
quote:
.... in the area that the scales were really designed to be used - namely, splitting ski school classes. Most people don't realize this is the real function of the scale, and instead try to use the scale to rate themselves.
I think that is unfortunate. Instead of a skill rating, shouldn't ski schools use a standard questionnare to assess what group a skier should be placed in? In addition to skill, agressiveness and athletic ability should be taken into account. This was discussed in Epic and I agree with it. Personally, I don't care what level/group I'm placed in, as long as it's the right one for a lesson or a clinic. But I think a common language is important for the general public to assess skier level/style so we can relate to one another where we at. Seems to me this should be a key goal of PSIA. Mebbe I'm applying too much common sense.

Anyway folks, this is a sad day for me. Not only is skiing over for me this season (due to ice hockey committments), but basketball season is also (since Carolina just lost to Tejas.) Happy turns for all during the remainder of the season and and maybe I'll catch you on the slopes next year.
Otto
March 21, 2004
Member since 11/19/1999
176 posts
quote:
What is the definition of turn initiation? Is it going across the fall-line or when you are in neutral (skis flat)? Seems like it has to be fall-line.
Tough to answer this way, cuz it could be both answers. You really don't want skis flat after the fall line unless you are skidding deliberately.

The main concept is that you have to pressure the outside ski to keep your center of mass moving downhill either over or ahead of your skis. Stand up, get in a crouch and pretend you are playing tennis or shortstop and need to move forward and sideways to the RIGHT. Do it several times and then focus on where the movement originates. If you guess the ball of the LEFT foot, you win the prize. You have to pressure the left foot to move to the right and vice-versa.

Its no different on skis, but it would be wrong of me to say there is a point where you pressure the outside foot that abruptly because pressure control in good skiing is a continuum. Its all about flow.

I will try to keep it simple. As you are finishing a left turn, your right foot is changing from being the uphill and outside foot to being the downhill and inside foot. That leg needs to flex (get softer) to help keep you in balance and manage the forces generated by the turn. At the same time, your left foot and leg are finishing the transition from being the inside and downhill to the outside and uphill. If you want to keep your center of mass (about 2 inches below your navel) and hips moving down the hill, you need to increase the pressure on that left foot as you soften the right.

In upper level clinics I have been repeatedly told you can't start pressuring too early. That is actually absurd, because you can and then fall on your a**. But, the advice is given because very few human brains are comfortable with projecting the body downhill and into space and, in upper level skiing, it is so important to do just that.

When you start to pressure what will become the outside ski is probably as you are actually in the fall line. Pressure control is a zero-sum game - one leg needs to start to absorb it and the other needs to start to exert it. Both need to change all the time.

Also, none of us like to give up a nicely edged downhill or outside ski. That edged ski is our security blanket - it saves us from certain death. But if you don't give it up, the best result is a "hitch" or pause in your transition from one turn to the next. In a worst case, usually when you are uncertain or just plain scared, you will find that you are actually keeping that outside leg really stiff from the start of the turn all the way to the end and holding it out almost like a shield. In those situations, you can't make the next turn, end up too far back and can have ugly stuff like crossed tips.

Well, that probably makes it as clear as mud.
PhysicsMan
March 21, 2004
Member since 11/20/2001
218 posts
> ...I think that is unfortunate. Instead of a skill rating, shouldn't
> ski schools use a standard questionnare...


I agree with you that the lack of a single, widely used consistent scale is annoying / sad / unfortunate / absurd / etc. I have argued these same issues of need, consistency, and importance more than once myself. Unfortunately, I think we are facing an uphill battle on this right from the start because I never once have seen a set of definitions that work well for all levels.

For the four lowest ability levels, at least the standard definitions are clearly defined and pretty generally accepted:

1 = never-ever;
2 = can sorta do single turns, but can't complete or link 'em, has trouble controlling speed;
3 = can link 'em;
4 = wedges on blues, starting to get parallel on greens;

Unfortunately, the definition problem starts to rear its ugly head above this point. IMHO, the root cause is that there are lots of things that can be problematic in an upper level skier, but which ones do you choose to use to define the upper levels.

For example, two skiers both might be able to do steep groomers with grace, but skier #1 uses a narrow stance and is able to pivot and do moguls well, but can't get a bronze in NASTAR to save himself because he's always scrubbing off speed and not carving. Skier #2 carves everywhere, regularly gets NASTAR golds, but has very poorly developed rotary skills, so he looks just terrible in the bumps.

So, if you define ability levels simply by steepness of terrain, they both are equivalent. Define it by independent leg action (a common level 5 definition, eg, Eldora's web site), and Mr. Old School (skier #1) falls all the way down to a 5. However, if I look at Otto's definition for a 7 it only speaks about carving, so, taken literally, Skier #2 fits it pretty well and remains a 7 in spite of his appalling performance even in easy bumps.

Nothing like consistency, eh?

With respect to the use of a standard questionnare, I hate to keep being a naysayer, but I doubt many ski schools would use them because their current system works amazingly well (and quickly) for what they need (ie, doing the splits for 1 - 1.5 hour group lessons). A questionnare certainly could be set up for individuals to use to place themself in the great spectrum of skiers, but I suspect it would smack of advertisements to "take this test to determine you IQ", and wouldn't see that much usage. OTOH, most people probably already have a very good idea of how they rank in comparison to the rest of the guests at the ski area, so there might not be much interest in the questionnare, even from this crowd.

Questionnares to help compose ski school groups could also be used to probe preferred learning style (eg, visual, auditory, kinesthetic), preferred pace, age, cautiousness, etc., and thus might be attractive to set up closely matched ski-week groups at large destination resorts.

Finally, with respect to the end of the season, IMHO, we could have done a lot worse, so lets let it RIP and start getting ready for next year. Fortunately, tmmrw, I'm heading up north for a few last days before I put my boards away. Keep posting away over the summer and lets keep the stoke alive! I often feel that I learn an amazing amount about the sport over the summer by continuing to think and write about it.

All the best,

Tom / PM
Roy
March 21, 2004
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
Tom, where are you headed up north for skiing? I'm leaving today to go to Mt Sunapee (Monday) and Mt Snow (Tuesday and Wednesday). I'm actully going for my Level 1 at Mt. Snow on Wednesday.
Crush
March 21, 2004
Member since 03/21/2004
996 posts
har har har level 9 whatever! I assume I am a level zero skier. I assume I suck whenever I look over anything not groomed like chutes, steeps, trees. I look for multiple emergency exit lines and recovery zones and start every turn as perfect as I can make them. Level 9? What does that mean? Like a racer? A racer that never leaves intermediate groomed runs but can compete on the Masters level and win? Or is that a back country guy that skis like an ape but powers through steep tracky post avi crud without a hitch? Or is that a powder pig that is all over it in 36 inches and skis bumps totally direct but doesn't know the meaning of the word "carve" ? EVERY SKIER CAN LEARN MORE!!! There is always one more thing to work on. It does not matter if you think you are a level 9 or not. A ski instructor that is a "level 5" can still spot problems in someone at a high level of ability. Why do you think world cup racers have coaches? To continuosly keep watch over them. That is why I love clinics and coaches .... I can never learn enough in my lifetime!
KevR
March 22, 2004
Member since 01/27/2004
786 posts
I think I agree with Crush ... skiing is a multifaceted sport, and downhill has its own set of facets as well. Here on the East Coast we are MUCH more used to groomed run skiing only. And there nothing wrong with perfecting the perfect carve mind you, or learning to go really fast between two points on a mountain or around polls while being timed against the clock or an adversary. But then there's the whole rest of the mountain to ski on, which you are likely to encounter not here but elsewhere such as Europe or out West. And that brings its own set of skills, some of which are shared with groomed skiing, and some of it not. This is not meant, on the other hand, to say anything against instructors or levels or anything really (maybe I don't have a real point and just like to hear myself type!) And don't forget, I've taken so many lessons from Diann R that I probably payed for at least one pair of skis for her (except she get 'em free I think but you get my drift)... But in the end, if you gets where you want to go on the mountain, does it really matter what technique you use? It does in at least some pragmatic ways that are highly subjective really -- I offer them without proof. Firstly better technique might reduce risk of injury. Second, higher technique is almost definitely more energy efficient. Third, advanced technique often breeds confidence which is helpful in being able to adapt to new situations on the mountain. Fourth, and not necessarily least -- better technique often simply LOOKS better. BUT in the end, skiing is a sport. And that means something. It means that on the one hand you can learn to do it & do it well, but on the other someone else might just do it better, learned or not. That's just the way it is and that's one of the things I think that's so interesting about it.
Ok, I'm done!
[Razz]
JohnL
March 22, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
I have to disagree, I think there are a lot of benefits to a categorization of skiing level and skiing style, most have been discussed on this thread.
  • Quickly sorting skiers into proper groups for ski lessons. If each area has a different scale, it makes it more confusing for the student when they take lessons at different areas.
  • If you want to improve your skiing, understand what skills that PSIA thinks you need to master to progress to the next level. It's an aide to setting goals for yourself. There are other learning paths other than that set by PSIA, you are free to choose your own.
  • Allow a quick & standard reference point for discussion of skier ability for choosing skis, perfecting technique, etc.

If you don't see the advantage of the first item on the list, then I seriously doubt you've paid money for a 1-2 hour lesson. When the meter is running you don't want to waste any time rearranging the groups because you can lose a significant portion of your lesson, even if it's only 20 minutes of on-hill evaluation and regrouping.

Lot's of people will disagree with how the list is defined, but at least it's an attempt at standardizing the language and learning progression. If you are not interested in using the defined language, then bugger off and let those who are using the language be.
TerpSKI
March 22, 2004
Member since 03/10/2004
167 posts
If the meter is running while the instructors are sorting that is a rip-off.

How will a standardized list speed this up? The general skiing public will not know what one level is from another and if it is the instructors' call, then s/he already knows what their hill's standards are.

When booking lessons at the schools I have been thru, unless you offer your level they ask questions and place you that way.

As far as buggery goes... [Frown] [Eek!] [Frown]
KevR
March 22, 2004
Member since 01/27/2004
786 posts
Probably at that level, you almost have to actually ski a run or two with someone to get properly catagorized. I know Roffe has a great eye and can size you up in about 5 seconds on the skis. I'm not sure i meant to imply anything much by my wordy, long winded post. I think ski lessons are great overall.

[Cool]
JohnL
March 22, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
quote:
How will a standardized list speed this up? The general skiing public will not know what one level is from another and if it is the instructors' call, then s/he already knows what their hill's standards are.

The whole point is for the general skiing public to have decent knowledge of the standardized list. At least they'd be able to look it up on the web or read it on a brochure prior to choosing a lesson. The never-evers and those who have skied only a few times won't know this list, but they are easy to classify anyway.

Disclaimer: I'm not in any way, shape or form associated with PSIA, but I've taken plenty of ski lessons and clinics over the years (PSIA and non-PSIA).

Didn't mean for the buggery comment to bugger you.
Crush
March 22, 2004
Member since 03/21/2004
996 posts
True JohnL that for the ski school, triage via level is a useful sort of students. But the question is how do you measure this and can someone at level 9 learn anything. I like the good old "ski off" like they did at 7 Springs. They just do a rough cut of skiers like beginner, intermediate and advance and then watch you ski a few turns and assign you to a group. You can say "yeah that person needs to be a little less static" or "oh they ski in the back seat" or "they stem a little" or blahh blahh blahh. And people have a rather jaundiced view of their ski skill with this level thing anyway. So make it easy; either just have 'em ski a little or if they know what they want to work on, let that guide the level.

And PS I have no PSIA affiliation either except I washed out of Instructor Training Course when the on-snow part was conducted ... too nice a day to be out doing drills so I bagged it and failed ITC LOL!
JohnL
March 22, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
quote:
can someone at level 9 learn anything
If the definition of level 9 is "Skis in all conditions and terrain [presumably with complete control and very solid form]" then it's an academic question since by that rigorous definition only a full-time ski professional (or ski bum) would have a *chance* of being at that level. You'd have to be skiing 75+ days a year (tossing out a guesstimate) to have your form that sharp under that variety of skiing. Now that I have a better idea of the level description, I'd say it's pretty much the unobtainium level.
KevR
March 22, 2004
Member since 01/27/2004
786 posts
I think this is useful but when you live in an area where the terrain is limited and all the runs are groomed, I can't see that you can really reach an 8 & 9. I mean you might carve perfect progressive turns with subtley, and show up good on the bumps, only to feel like your pants are going to fill up looking down that 50+ degree chute that requires essentially no carving skills whatsover, just the balls to go for it, and the athleticism to get you down in one piece. The PSIA levels are useful, if you are going to teach something, catagorization must take place. But without really skiing the whole mountain often or at all, how can you reach 9-hood, or even most of 8-hood ...

???

----

Level 7: Short radius parallel turns in the fall line, medium and long radius carved parallel turns across the fall line. Applied to a wide variety of trails and conditions, including all groomed single black diamond runs.

Level 8: Dynamic parallel turns. Adapting skills, size of turns, and tactics to powder, variable conditions and bigger bumps. Pressure shifts to outside ski prior to turn initiation. Center of mass moves into direction of turn. Simultaneous edge change. Inside leg steering, progressive edging creates a guided arc. Pole swing coincides with extension and draws body into the the turn.

Level 9: Skis in all conditions and terrain. Selects appropriate tactics for the above. Able to ski bumps, powder, crud, etc. Has full inventory of appropriate turn shapes, movement patterns (X-under, X-over, retraction turns).
Roger Z
March 22, 2004
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
This thread seems to have changed a bit from the beginning; not necessarily for the worse but certainly in a different direction. There was some talk earlier going on about the different types of "games" you can play going down even the local hills that will make them challenging. I think JohnL mentioned skiing one one ski with your boots unbuckled while balancing your poles in front of you through a mogul field. I can't even imagine someone doing that, much less doing that myself. Nonetheless, if that really is a "game" PSIA Level III instructors play (and win), and it's the type of "game" Level IX skiers should be able to play, I can safely say I'm not anywhere close to being Level IX.

The latter part here is "but what if you're good at one thing but not at another?" and I think this is being discussed relative to taking lessons. If you're with a Level II or Level III certified PSIA instructor, they're probably going to be able to help you on anything you want if you want to work on a targeted weakness. If you want to work on general technique, they probably have a lot of "games" for you to play to get your balance up. And if you want to improve on a strength, they probably know something you don't, or at the very least help explain something that you knew implicitly all along but could never really say or didn't even realize you were doing.

A Level IX: yeah there should be a definition: that's Ski Guru. After the later discussions, I think I like the broad definition better than I did originally. Can ski anything, anytime, anywhere, anyway he/she likes, in any condition, no exceptions.

As for myself, I think I fall somewhere between 7 and 8. Can definitely do some of the things on the 8 list but not others. And there are certain conditions I'm still not comfortable in. To get to Level 9, I think JohnL is onto something when he says you have to ski at several dozen times a year-- and probably be pushing new limits almost every time out.
Crush
March 22, 2004
Member since 03/21/2004
996 posts
Yeah but like it is sooo relative .... like I think I suck but when some friends of mine visted me here in Park City from the Mid Atlantic this one grl was was saying on her cphone " oh yeah dad this guy we've been skiing with is an expert skier" like right nooooo way I am like that .... I have to ski with guys like Jeremy Nobis in my town and they kick my ass sooo far up that I have to take two weeks to recover! Har har! BUt look really just take a f&*king lesson and you will come away with something you can work on. I work on something every day (today it was big-ass shelf-y slush bumps taller than I am) and that is where it is at. Just find something you stink at and work on it. And then you can dance!!!!! Like Glenn Plake said ... "skiing is a life sentence"!

So maybe the terrain here challenges you more but hey you know what? I use to practice steep skiing at Libery's Ultra and just pretend I was skiing a 6 foot wide chute down the right line all the time.... and guess what when I get to Snowbird and hit Great Scott chute it pretty much skis the same way... deeper and steeper but the mechanics are the same. And an instructor looking you over can tell you if you are not keeping that upper body facing down the fall line, keeping your hands orderly and blocking with your hips... even at Liberty!
Otto
March 22, 2004
Member since 11/19/1999
176 posts
There are only two reasons this "level" stuff exists.

The first is that the levels are tool developed by PSIA to give structure and consistency to ski teaching as a discipline. Viewed in that light, they are nothing more than categories that various skills, drills and objectives are dropped into. For that purpose, they are very useful.

The second is for triage at lesson time, but best accompanied by some pointed interrogation.

Otherwise, not all that useful. What really matters is going out and skiing your a** off. No turn is ever a waste of time and the more you ski, the more you realize you have to learn.

If I have one regret about being ski instructor it is I personally spend too much thinking about what I am doing when I am supposed to be having fun. I have to make myself let go and just fly at it to get away from that mind-set.

So the hell with the levels - just ski, ski, ski and ski some more. Ski when conditions are great, or better yet, when they suck. Ski with a partner or partners who are at least as good, or preferably better than you. If you get stuck someplace in your development, take a lesson. If you get a half decent lesson, WORK on the things you took out of it.

But its really all about fun. The hell with keeping score.
TerpSKI
March 23, 2004
Member since 03/10/2004
167 posts
quote:
I agree with you that the lack of a single, widely used consistent scale is annoying / sad / unfortunate / absurd / etc.
But why? I can't see this as a problem at all. How long does it take to sort some people out on the hill?

I agree with KevR and Crush on this. All I know is - speaking for myself - I have a lot to learn about skiing and always will [Cool]
Roger Z
March 23, 2004
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
Otto-- which local ski hill do you work at? If I'm still in the area next year maybe I should drop by for a lesson; don't think I've ever had a formal lesson in my entire life.
JohnL
March 23, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Otto,

Remember you're a ski instructor; you probably think too much when you are on skis. Most of the rest of us have the opposite problem; we don't think enough when we are on skis.
KevR
March 23, 2004
Member since 01/27/2004
786 posts
RZ the first thing he'll tell is to get some frickin' shaped skis!!!!

[Razz]
Roger Z
March 23, 2004
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
You can take my straight edge skis out of my cold, dead hands!!! [Razz]

Out in CA I was referred to as "Old School." [Big Grin] And, as I tell my dad everytime he blames his 90 on the golf course on his equipment: equipment doesn't bogey, people do.

This message brought to you by cheesy gun puns. [Roll Eyes]
JohnL
March 23, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Hey Old School,

Ya got any edges left on them things?

I assume they have ski brakes (not straps) and are made of fiberglass (not wood.)

Maybe we'll bribe the airline baggage handler to lose your bag forcing you to ugrade.
KevR
March 23, 2004
Member since 01/27/2004
786 posts
Does this mean you ski such that you can hold a quarter between yours knees the whole way down?

[Razz]

Hey let's pick out some new skis for Roger! How tall are you and how many stones?
Crush
March 23, 2004
Member since 03/21/2004
996 posts
Right on Otto ! You are soooo real!


Roger Z - ps shaped skis are WAAY fun! I love to lay out and carve on 'em .... BUT ! My Dynastar Inspired by Nobis have virtually no sidecut (big mountain skis) they are like DH race skis when I carve them ... so maybe non-shaped is ok when you want to wail!!!!!
Roger Z
March 24, 2004
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
I have plenty of edge, it's the P-tex that Blue Knob and other natural snow east coast ski hills have been eating for the last seven years that is causing problems right now.

I'm willing to take (almost) any new ski... as long as someone else is buying! [Wink] Fortunately my local ski shop still has a pair of straight-edge Dynastar's that the owner has been trying to get me to buy for two winters now. Sooner or later the ski companies will realize there is still a demand by REAL skiers [Big Grin] for a REAL ski [Cool] out there, and straight edges will make their comeback... until then: hold in there, P-tex! [Eek!]

ps- these new smiley faces are the bomb.
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