With winter upon us, you’ve got some great ski days ahead. Maybe you’ve got some day trips planned to that bigger, better ski resort that you don’t normally get to. Better still, maybe you’re taking a real ski vacation at a world famous resort in another part of the world.
So there you are standing at the top of a run. You’re admiring the panoramic vista in front of you—the horizon, the mountain peaks, pine trees, snowy valleys. And then you look down the run in front of you. Uh, oh. This isn’t the bunny hill. This is a serious, advanced, narrow, mogul-filled thrill ride. Just how are you going to get down the run that’s too much for you?
Let’s back the truck up for just a minute. Let’s talk about the resort you are at and the variety of runs. A ski hill in upstate New York is not the same as Whistler or Stowe—No kidding. But here’s what I mean. The black diamond run in upstate New York is not nearly as difficult as the variety of black diamond runs at Whistler (or any other bigger resort). The bigger resort run is longer with more vertical. It’s always more challenging. There’s more of everything. Maybe that’s obvious, but here’s another point. There’s no consistent rating system for ski runs. The intermediate run at Stowe is probably closer to a black diamond at the local ski hill. Each ski hill/resort rates their own beginner, intermediate, advanced and/or expert runs based on their inventory. Then within each category is the possibility of “double” or “triple”, i.e. 3-diamond Expert.
So let’s go back to you standing at the top of the run. You are now regretting your choice. How are you going to get down this run? First of all, be confident and think positive. If you think you are going to wipe out, fall, etc., then you probably will. Next, pick your starting route. Skier’s left or skier’s right. Generally speaking the middle has the most traffic from those who chose wisely (and for their ability). Ruts, ice and moguls will be down the centre. That said, if you are really over your head, you will need to traverse the hill (go side to side) to minimize your speed and control your turns. You’ll want to do a zig-zag pattern. Pick a spot 20 feet ahead and go to it before you turn. Back and forth down the hill.
As a Canadian Ski Patroller, I run into the “run is too much” with skiers on a regular basis. As a group, we are very much about incident prevention (accidents come from bad choices). If you are standing at the top of an expert run with your knees shaking and you don’t look the part, I’ll ask you (1) if you’ve been down there before; and (2) if you’ve ever been down any expert run. If you answer no, I will strongly suggest that you make a better choice for your riding ability. Come back another time when you’ve worked your way up to an expert run. If you’re part way down the run, I will offer assistance to get you down. Relax and follow me. I will take it very slow, show a route to follow and wait ahead to shout out instructions.
Getting down a run that’s too much can happen from time to time with anyone. But if you think about where you are (intermediate is really expert) and stay within your ability (practice and gain experience), you will have a great ski day.
Written by Mark Crone @marktravel for Liftopia