Many of our ski students who started skiing as Beginners or even ‘never-evers’ with us over the years in our ski program have now achieved Intermediate level, which is awesome. It shows that our training program as well as the work they have put in really works. They made huge gains in the skiing and can now ski down the majority of slopes at resorts, including steeper black diamond runs. So what happens to these Intermediate level skiers in terms of their futures in skiing?
The reality is that Intermediates WILL reach a stage where significant improvements in their ski technique will be MUCH harder to achieve. Changes become more subtle and require a LOT of ski miles. In fact, 80% of the recreational ski population will fit into this category as they plateau out in their ski technique improvement. NO significant further improvements are usually achieved season after season. I call these skiers ‘Perpetual Intermediates’ since they will remain as Intermediates for the rest of their skiing lives.
There are a few possible outcomes for Intermediates depending on the decisions these skiers make and I’ll outline them below.
Keep Skiing But With No More Ski Lessons
After a few seasons taking ski lessons, these Intermediates will abandon anymore organized ski training. They can now ski pretty well all slopes including black diamonds but when snow conditions get difficult and icy, they will find steeper runs more challenging — but they can probably still get down.
The reality for these skiers is that even if they can go down black diamonds, they will NOT be skiing them the same way as Advanced skiers or instructors. It will be quite noticeable when observing them from the chairlift that these are still Intermediate level skiers who will not look the same as more advanced skiers. These skiers will look stiff and actual ski performance will be minimal (not efficient utilization of their skis).
If you are an Intermediate skier in this category and you are quite satisfied to accept the fact that you will remain a Perpetual Intermediate, then that’s okay. You can still enjoy the sport but within limitations of course.
Take 1-2 Lessons Per Season But Free Ski Most Of The Time
We have some Intermediates who still ski quite a bit on their own and take only 1-2 ski lessons per season. These skiers will get some benefit from the lessons as they are reminded of what they have to work on to get better. The reality here with this group is whenever we see these ski students each season, we will be seeing the same issues with them each year. There won’t be anything new. The reminders they get from the 1-2 lessons may help jog their memories on what they need to work on.
Some skills will be relatively easy to fix but it is up to the skier to maintain those skills so that they become automatic, especially when they are free skiing. HOWEVER, other skills will be much harder to achieve and 1-2 lessons will NOT turn these skiers into Advanced level. So the 1-2 lessons will still help in reminding Intermediate skiers what skills they need to develop but this group will likely NOT progress much further in terms of ski level.
Continue With A Full Ski Training Program
Very few Intermediates will ever progress pass this level and make it into Advanced. However, it is possible but it involves skiing at least 15+ ski days each season AND with continued organized training with instructors. Ski lessons will help follow up on a regular basis on skills development and take ski students on a feasible training path towards Advanced levels. One major goal for Advanced ski students is to be able to ski ANY slope with efficiency plus high performance under ANY snow conditions including icy, ungroomed and powder days.
We have been successful in moving a few people into Advanced levels and even towards Level 1 ski instructor certification but it involves a major attitude change in the way people ski. Instead of skiing casually, especially on easier slopes, those who are serious in ski training approach each run, no matter how easy or challenging the slope is, with a training mindset. Each run is taken to work on a particular skill, even if on flat terrain.
In my own skiing, I use EACH run to work on something specific. When I have this mentality during skiing, I do not get bored, even if I ski on the SAME slope over and over again (I’ve skied on the same slope for ten consecutive runs just to work on different skills).
When you see Advanced skiers and instructors out there, you can bet that they spent a LOT of time on their skiing. This means MANY ski days per season AND lots of training sessions with coaches to help them. It’s no surprise why these folks are the skiers that make it into advanced levels in skiing.
So those are the three possible outcomes or routes that you can take as an Intermediate level skier. Again, there’s nothing wrong with not taking ski lessons but just be very aware of the realities I described above. Skiing is something that can be enjoyed at any level. But each of the different levels ARE very noticeable out there when we observe skiers on the slopes. You have to be happy with the level you are in. If you ever want to progress to Advanced or even instructor levels someday, the last route described is the ONLY one that will get you there.
By the way, even as a Level 2 ski instructor with 14 years of teaching experience and 40 years on the slopes, I still take a full training program for myself to further develop my own skiing.