Levels of Snowboarding Ability

Tim Hornibrook of Sydney, Australia, is a former executive director of the Macquarie Group. Tim Hornibrook enjoys spending his time outside of work on the beach or in the mountains snowboarding.

Snowboarding can make for a thrilling, physically demanding day on the mountain, assuming the boarder sticks to trails that match his or her riding ability. Trail markers can be helpful in guiding a snowboarder in that regard, although each mountain grades its trails in comparison to other runs in the area, meaning that a blue-square trail in one region may rank as a black diamond in another. For this reason, it can be helpful to review how specific regions define their snowboarding skill levels. These levels also help give mountain instructors and employees a better idea of where to send snowboarders at their locations.

Take Vail, Colorado, for example. A Level-1 snowboarder is a beginner, someone with absolutely no experience on a snowboard. Between Levels 2 and 4 a boarder will begin spending a few hours a day on beginner trails, also known as bunny hills, until they are comfortable riding down green-circle trails. At Level 5 and Level 6, a boarder will begin to take on tougher trails, assuming conditions are clear. Vail’s levels top out at Level 9, a grade just shy of professional snowboarder. At Level 9, boarders can virtually board on any trail, regardless of terrain and weather conditions. Not only can they move down a trail, they can do so with style and confidence.

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