A Guide to Skiing Ability Levels

Man skiing on bluebird day in Montana
Getty Images / Tetra Images - Noah Clayton

Whether you're planning to take a ski lesson or trying to find the right trail for your abilities, it's helpful to know about skiing ability levels. Novice or pro, every skier's got one. First, think about your experience. Are you a beginner or do you ski regularly? Consider how well you ski. Are basic turns and stops easy or hard? And finally, think about the kinds of trails and snow quality you have experience on.

Put these factors together and you've got your ski ability level.

Beginner

Most ski resorts offer lessons that are expressly designed for people who have never been on skis before or have only skied a few times. Beginner lessons focus on the basics of stopping and turning on very gentle slopes.

Level One skiers are people who have never skied before. Don't worry; everyone has to start at the beginning. Most ski resorts offer lessons tailored especially for first-time skiers.

Level Two skiers are cautious novices who are able to do a snowplow (wedge) turn both ways and are able to stop, but linking turns smoothly may be difficult. 

Level Three skiers are confident novices who are able to stop and make round snowplow turns on easy beginner green trails.

Intermediate

Once you've mastered the basics of stopping and turning, it's time to begin fine-tuning those skills. Intermediate lessons are for skiers who can confidently ski green and easy blue runs and are comfortable on less-than-ideal trail conditions.

Level Four skiers are cautious intermediate skiers who can link turns under moderate speed on green or easy blue trails. You should be able to keep your skis parallel.

Level Five skiers are intermediates who are confident on easy blue runs and ski mostly parallel but may at times use the wedge to begin a turn or to stop.

You still may be cautious on intermediate trails that are slightly steep or icy.

Level Six skiers confidently make parallel turns on blue runs but do not ski many advanced trails. At this level, you should be able to use your poles to make precise turns.

Advanced

At this level, you should be able to ski blue and blue-black trails with confidence. Advanced lessons focus on perfecting your technique and on skiing under challenging terrain conditions.

Level Seven skiers can execute parallel turns and can ski blue and blue-black trails with controlled speed and rhythm. They also can adjust the size and length of their turns and are can ski on a variety of different types of snow and terrain.

Level Eight skiers have mastered their technique on all terrain and snow conditions. Level Eight skiers can ski moguls and black-diamond trails with confidence using carved turns.

Level Nine skiers enjoy the challenge of difficult ski trails, such as moguls, steeps, and other black-diamond terrain.