Sizing Yourself Up

For Intermediate Skiers
For Intermediate Skiers
Congratulations! You are about to take your first ski trip to an Olympic capable resort, but you never skied outside of Wisconsin, Michigan, or Minnesota and are worried about finding appropriate runs for your ability.

Do not worry, but understand a few things that I have noted in other posts. The key thing is — resorts grade their trails on a curve based solely on the runs at their own resort. The uber-tough runs are double-blacks, the tough ones are blacks, the intermediate ones are blues, and the easiest are greens. Do know, a black (or even a 2xblack) at your local Wisconsin ski area may be tagged as a green in Colorado or at Killington.
However, if you can handle the black runs in the UP (and at Whitecap) you should be able to manage fine. Still, most of those black runs would be rated as blue runs out west or east. Does that mean you should stay on green? Not necessarily, but do not look for the first black-diamond run off of the lift and hurl yourself down it.

I found in my trip out west the run I was having the most fun with was a groomer with a long section where the pitch seemed equivalent to Ski Brule’s Big Bear headwall. The differences being few skiers, longer sustain on the pitch, and the run on Monarch was wider. There were stretches where that run leveled off a bit but on the whole I was skiing a lot faster than what I was accustomed to, but still in control. It was exhilarating. I jskied trail edge to trail edge while I was not cutting perpendicular to the fall line I was not skiing all that close to it either.

Be warned though, there were blue runs I did not feel as if I were capable. They were steeper and sustained that pitch for nearly the whole run and one wrong turn and I would be in a mogul field or in ungroomed (chopped/cruded) powder field. I was getting the nerve up to ski the steeps but then the legs vetoed the notion.

I approach strange runs by finding a way I can eye them up with an escape available. From below is preferable to from above. This is where your trail map comes in handy, but always remember trail maps can not convey precisely the true level of the run.

The resorts out west and out east have so much terrain you can find many runs suited to your skills and desires. Even at those resorts, not everyone there is an advanced skier. Have fun and come back in one piece.

Good Stuff!

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