Understand Ski Trail Ratings and Stay Safe On The Slopes

Published: 21st January 2010
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Understanding ski trail ratings is very important. If you are a beginner, you do not want to find yourself on an expert trail that you cannot navigate safely. Being a beginner on an expert trail can be nerve wracking and very frightening. It can also be very dangerous, because you are not ready for the difficulty of the trail and the speed of the other more skilled skiers around you.

While ski trail ratings are somewhat universal worldwide, there are a few differences between North America Ski Trail Ratingsand Europe Ski Trail Ratings

Ski trail ratings can also differ from resort to resort also, so pay attention when skiing new places. Understanding ski trail ratings is one thing you should attempt to do when you arrive at any resort. Familiarize yourself with the terrain, where each chair lift ends, what types of runs are located at the top of that chair lift. Sometimes the chair lift colors will also correspond with the types of runs they take you to.

Ski trail ratings are also based on the width of the trails, the slope, the grade, the grooming the trail receives, if it is icy, if there are moguls, and how long the runs are. For example, understanding ski trail ratings is very important if you are not a very advanced skier and you are trying to decide which run you would like to take.

Taking a run that is more advanced than you are prepared for can set you up for fatigue, injury and possibly a downhill trip on the back of a snowmobile (rescue by snow patrol).


Understanding ski trail ratings is not too difficult if you read the signs closely and pay attention to color and shape. Generally, circle means easy, diamond means difficult and colors correspond with difficulty as well. Green is easy while black means expert.

* Green Circle - very wide trails, gently sloping and highly groomed, these trails are designed for the absolute beginner.

* Blue Square - these trails are still fairly simple and are designed for intermediate skiers, although a beginner can tackle these after doing some green circle runs initially. Blue Square trails tend to be fun with out the fear factor and may contain moguls. Moguls are large bumps that are close together and need to be navigated around. Sometimes the troughs around the moguls become too deep and the moguls themselves very icy.

* Black Diamond - trails for the advanced skier. These types of trails are generally much steeper, less groomed and may have many moguls or be very icy.

* Double Black Diamond - Trails designed only for the very experienced skier. These trails can have hazards such as drop offs, very steep slopes and difficult moguls.


* Green - runs designed from the absolute beginner.

* Blue -A gently sloping trail designed for beginners, although a little more advanced than green, so meant for intermediate skiers.

* Red - Designed for intermediate skiers and more difficult than a blue trail.

* Black - for expert skiers only.


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