Ski Holiday Based On Your Level Of Skiing

The ski industry breaks skiers into four different levels: Beginner, Intermediate, advanced and expert.

Beginners are people that have never skied before or who have had very limited experience, for example a few days skiing or ski lessons on an artificial ski slope.
Intermediates are skiers who have had at least one weeks skiing and can usually descend comfortably on a blue or red ski run. But then this category becomes very broad as many people who have been skiing for years still consider themselves to be intermediates and can stay on a ‘plateau’, struggling to break into the next stage of development.
Advanced skiers are those who can ski most terrain including black runs and maybe some back country or off piste.
Experts are skiers who will be linked to the sport in a professional way, for example ski instructors or ski racers.

So, once you have decided what category you fit into you can search for the perfect resort for your next skiing holiday.

The great thing about being a beginner is that nearly all resorts cater for you. Every ski resort has its nursery areas and easy ski runs, even the likes of Chamonix and Verbier, renowned for their expert terrain, still cater perfectly well for beginners. It’s just that maybe that in these resorts you will not be able to experience the full offering available. So if you are a beginner and are planning a trip with people who have skied before then don’t worry, wherever you go the ski school will be able to look after you adequately. Just note that whatever the best intentions of your friends to teach you to ski are, do not accept their offer, go to a professional ski school based in the resort you are travelling to.

Intermediate skiers have huge choices when it comes to great ski destinations. The bulk of customers in ski resorts are classified as intermediates, so the resorts will always make sure you are well looked after. The key to choosing the best resort as an intermediate skier is to determine what kind of skiing you enjoy. Some resorts offer huge areas with hundreds of ski lifts and you never have to ski the same run twice in a week. This is great for people that want to explore the terrain, but if you want to get to know the runs then a smaller resort would be better. Also, if you are looking for high quality instruction then choose a resort where there are a large number of ski schools. There are often international ski schools in resorts competing with each other and this can raise the quality of instruction above a resort with only one ski school. As an intermediate the choices of ski destination for your ability are fantastic and the best thing to keep in mind is that wherever there is good snow conditions, you will have fun, but unfortunately it’s hard to predict that one!

Advanced skiers often have a favourite resort and a place where they go back to year after year. This can be great as you get to know the resort and perhaps even go back to the same instructor or guide each time. As an advanced skier it becomes harder to choose the perfect skiing destination, as you will know what you like and what you don’t. Choosing a resort with a good snow record is often the best decision to make as anywhere with good snow will provide an enjoyable experience. If you want to try more black runs or off piste skiing for the first time then consider resorts that are high altitude as these tend to provide better skiing conditions and often steeper slopes (although this is a generalisation). Be aware that off piste or back country skiing can be extremely dangerous if the correct precautions are not taken, therefore always search out a local professional mountain guiding service, normally located within the ski schools, and do not ski off piste alone.

If I had to name one resort for the 4 categories of skier based purely upon the level of skiing then they would be:

Beginner – Lillehammer, Norway
Intermediate – Cervinia, Italy
Advanced – Val d’Isère, France
Expert – Anywhere with good snow conditions

If you want specific details on where to ski based on your level of skiing just make a comment on this post.

In the next ‘Ski Holiday Advice’ blog post, I will discuss nightlife or Après ski!

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Robert Stewart

Ski Editor at Snow.Guide

Rob has extensive knowledge and experience of winter sports and has been qualified to instruct and teach Alpine Skiing for over 25 years. He is also an experienced off-piste and backcountry skier and has competed in freestyle and freeride events around the world. Now a full-time ski writer and Director of Ski Press, Rob is Snow.Guide’s Ski Editor and contributes to many other snowsports, national and lifestyle publications.

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2 thoughts on “Ski Holiday Based On Your Level Of Skiing”

  1. I want to know where is the best place to ski in the french or the swiss alps for beginners and if the resorts will be opened by december 12th 2010.

    1. @Gina
      Not all resorts are open by December 12th but the resorts that are open will be suitable for beginners. In France I would recommend Tignes, a high altitude modern resort which is good for early season skiing. In Switzerland, Verbier will be open but it’s not so beginner friendly at this early stage of the winter.

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