What’s My Snowboarding or Ski Ability?

Keystone Ski and Ride School
Keystone Ski and Ride School

You know you want to go further, and Keystone Ski & Ride School's expert instructors are here to help.

Use this guide to determine your skiing or riding ability level.



You have never tried skiing or snowboarding before. Welcome to the greatest sports on earth, and thank you for joining us at the Keystone Ski & Ride School!

Start out right! With Keystone’s unique Direct to Excellence approach, you will learn to think like an expert, and discover the techniques, tactics, and mindsets of the world’s best skiers and riders, while avoiding bad habits from Day 1.

What to expect:
- Learn about equipment and the mountain environment.
- Discover the joy and excitement of sliding on snow!
- Learn to stop.
- Learn to get up from a fall.
- Learn to make first turns.
- Make it fun with Keystone’s Keys to Great Skiing & Riding.


You have spent a few hours on the slopes—probably a day or two. You can put on and take off your equipment and move around on the flats. You are comfortable gliding and stopping on the easiest learning terrain (carpet lifts), and you can sometimes make simple direction changes while sliding.

What to expect
- Improve your turns.
- Gain confidence, control, and freedom as you explore the secrets of expert skiing and riding!


You are very comfortable gliding and making turns on beginner terrain (“Discovery” and “Ranger” lifts). You feel almost ready for easy green runs on the mountain. Skiers  probably make “wedge turns,” but you may make “parallel turns” too. Snowboarders can nearly link turns heel to toe.

What to expect:
- We will assess your technique and get you up to speed with Keystone’s Keys to Great Skiing & Riding.
- Develop confidence with different sizes and types of turns, with rhythm and consistent speed.
- When you’re ready, ride a chairlift and ski or ride on the mountain!


You ski or ride comfortably and confidently on Keystone’s “green circle” mountain terrain (Schoolmarm, Silverspoon). You can ride chairlifts and link smooth, gliding turns on all but the steepest green sections. Skiers may be parallel, but probably use a slight wedge much of the time, especially when it gets steeper. Snowboarders can link heel & toe turns.

What to expect:
Refine your fundamentals, skiers becoming more consistently parallel.
- Build confidence to glide at slightly higher speeds or steeper slopes
- Explore all “green circle” runs and perhaps easiest “blue square” runs.


Description: You ski or ride comfortably and confidently on all “green circle” and most groomed “blue square” terrain at Keystone. You can link turns (mostly parallel for skiers) of varying sizes and you can control your speed in most situations by adjusting your line, with little need for braking (“gliding the slow line fast”).

What to expect—depending on your needs and goals:
- Explore higher speeds and more vigorous movements for shorter, complete turns.
- Develop higher edge angles and discover the control and sensations of carved turns.
- Gain confidence on steeper, more challenging groomed blue terrain.
- Venture into easiest ungroomed terrain.
- Skiers learn to incorporate pole use for better timing and precision.


Description: You are comfortable and confident on any groomed “blue square” terrain, and capable of skiing or riding easiest ungroomed and moguled blue terrain. You can link turns of varying size at moderate speed. If you are a skier, you are usually parallel, and you may use a pole swing or plant in most of your turns. Snowboarders are beginning to skid less, with the tail of the board following the tip, for more control of their line.

What to expect—depending on your needs and goals:
- Refine your balance, technique, and consistency.
- Explore technical options for more versatility, from pure-carved turns to braking. Skiers learn to use both skis independently, with step turns, stem turns, and one- or two-footed movements. Snowboarders develop rhythm and build your bag of tricks with more varied movement options.
- Explore tactical options for confidence in more challenging blue terrain and conditions, including the steepest blue square runs and easy moguls.


Description: You are comfortable and confident on all blue square and easier black diamond terrain, including moderate moguls and ungroomed snow. You can modify your technique and tactics from a growing quiver of options, linking dynamic carved turns with consistent rhythm on blue groomed terrain. Skiers usually ski parallel, with effective pole use. Snowboarders can mix carved and skidded turns.

What to expect—depending on your needs and goals:
- Continue to refine balance and develop skills and versatility.
- Learn to manage the changing forces of higher speed short, medium, and long carved turns, and uneven terrain.
- Explore tactics and technique options for enjoying the whole mountain, including moderate moguls, steeps, powder, racing, carving, crud, ice, or freestyle.


Description: You ski or ride with confidence and flair, with offensive tactics and techniques on most terrain. You can carve arc-to-arc turns on easier groomed runs, and you handle moderate mogul runs with consistent speed and rhythm. You are competent, if not always confident, in moderate ungroomed conditions, and you can handle all but the most extreme in-bounds terrain. You may lack the needed confidence or particular technical or tactical options for true virtuosity in all terrain and conditions.

What to expect—depending on your needs and goals:
- Solidify your fundamentals while expanding your limits with versatility and confidence at an ever-growing range of speeds, terrain, and conditions.
- Refine your technique for efficiency and strength at higher speeds and longer runs.
- Identify your strengths and growth areas for continued learning and improvement.


Description: You can ski or ride almost anywhere, almost any time, with confidence, flair, efficiency, and offensive movements and tactics. You fear no terrain. The challenge is no longer merely to survive, but to continue to improve, and you can challenge yourself on even the easiest green, groomed runs. You are becoming a true virtuoso, enticingly close to earning the title “expert.”

What to expect—depending on your needs and goals:
- Explore any of the challenges of the mountain, from steepest and gnarliest double-black diamonds to easiest corduroy-groomed greens, to the Freestyle parks and race arenas.

Ski Slope Level Breakdown: What Should You Ski Based On Your Ability?

Novice BoarderWhen you venture out on the slopes at Keystone, you’ll find a wide range of runs suited to various ability levels.

While we encourage our visitors to try new runs and discover as much untracked snow as possible, it’s also important to know your ability and hit the trails that are the right challenge for you.

So which one are you?

Read our guide to learn more:

First Timer

This is your first time on a snowboard or skis (or first time in quite a while). You’re enrolled in the Keystone Ski & Snowboard School, and you are ready to learn!

We have a great area for you to practice the basics with your group or on your own. Head over to the Schoolyard to hone your skills until you’re ready for a little more action.

Appropriate Trails: Schoolyard, Schoolmarm, Schoolmaster

Click here to find a First Timer lesson perfect for you!


You’ve worn skis before, but you need to brush up on the basics. Blue trails have quite a range in difficulty, so it’s best to start slow and work your way up the mountain. Rest assured: there are still plenty of great mountain views and soft snow everywhere on this beautiful mountain.

Appropriate Trails: Silver Spoon, Last Chance, Spring Dipper, Jaybird, Bear Tree, Ina’s Way, Modest Girl

Click here to find a Novice lesson perfect for you!


Welcome to the ski life!

You’re comfortable on all of the green runs and ready to start carving some steeper slopes. We have a ton of blue runs all over our resort that can take you into all sorts of terrain.

They’re a great way to explore Keystone, and you’re sure to enjoy the variety each run has to offer.

Appropriate Trails: Porcupine, Lodgepole, Bighorn, Elk Run, Oh Bob, Escape, Anticipation, Spillway, Prospector, Last Alamo, Mozart, Santa Fe, River Run, Beger, Dercum’s Dash

Click here to find an Intermediate lesson perfect for you!


You are a master of the mountain.

North Peak, The Outback, and the upper bowls are calling you with their glades, bumps, and deep, pristine powder. Or, if you want to venture beyond the lifts, several hike-to bowls await you (or, for the ultimate adventure, hop on a Snowcat tour!).

Appropriate Trails: Independence Bowl, Berman Bowl, Erickson Bowl, North Bowl, South Bowl, Cat Dancer, Geronimo, Black Hawk, Starfire, Bullet, Powder Cap, Ambush, Diamond Back

Click here to find an Expert lesson perfect for you!

Advanced Skier


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