Ski courses for skiers moving on to red runs. Here’s a surprise!
This picture shows the approximate angle of inclination of red runs everywhere. Ski resorts all of the world adhere to these protocols. They have agreed angles – with small variations – for blue ski runs, reds, blacks, and of course green beginner slopes.
In my experience skiers find it surprising that, for example, a red run is no steeper than shown. They always seem steeper when you are skiing on them, and even steeper than that when you are standing at the top.
What can we learn from this picture?
Quite a few things I think. Firstly that our perception of the angle, rather than the true inclination itself, is likely to affect our emotions regarding its level of difficulty or threat.
Secondly, because our eyes are in our heads and not our feet, the angle will look steeper than it actually is. Knowing that may help bring greater realism, and change our perceptions a little.
Thirdly, one of these skiers is leaning back, and we know that’s not a good idea. He probably doesn’t think he is, and that’s because he’s standing as he would during the rest of his year: vertically. He is the one lower down the slope.
He’s used to standing vertically because he’s usually on a horizontal surface. It feels comfortable for him. But it won’t be when he gets moving. He will have less control of his skis, they won’t perform well, and that will increase further his perception that the slope is really steep.
That will put him into a positive feedback loop that will quickly spiral into difficulties for him. The reason he stands vertically most of the year is because vertical is perpendicular to the horizontal surfaces he spends most of his time on.
Now consider the skier above him.
At first glance he appears to be leaning forward. In one sense he is, but from an expert skiing viewpoint he is by far the better skier, and he will be able to Ski In Control far better. The reason is that he is perpendicular to the slope.
This matters a great deal because when we are skiing we need always to be relating to the slope, not to the flat-earthers. In addition I should mention that this is also partly why steeper slopes are harder to ski: the prospect of feeling as if we are leaning down the slope is something our amygdala (our ancient brain) doesn’t like the prospect of. But it’s what works.
Here’s the tip. On a slope that looks steep to you, if you get in a safe stance, bend over and look down the slope with your head upside down, you’ll see it in its true light. If you are a nervous skier, or just a bit apprehensive at that moment this is Just one more tool to help control your emotions.
I’ve written a lot more on this topic. There are many, but one article is here
Ski courses for skiers moving on to red runs
One final thought – even though a red ski run is probably less steep than you thought, that doesn’t mean its got no teeth. You can get out of control quite easily unless you’re ready for it. The good news is, you really can get ready for it, and in Baqueira where I’ve been running my skiing courses for over 20 years, I will certainly help you do that.