Wednesday, February 14, 2007

What deserves to be a black diamond?

A recent story in the Summit Daily News got me thinking -- What type of ski run deserves to be rated expert? And are resorts giving some hard blue runs a pass to make skiers and tort lawyers better about themselves.
The story was about British Columbia columnist G.D. Maxwell's impressions on a recent visit to Vail.
The story says:
In Vail, he found the trail map hard to believe: 53 percent of terrain
rated most difficult. "It's a feel-good, better-than-you-are marketing spin. Either that, or it's a paranoid fear of litigation," he reported. Blue Sky Basin he described as a "panorama of hero blacks, braggin' blacks, blacks in
name only. In fact, anything that doesn't get groomed in Vail gets tagged
black diamond. Virtually nothing in the Back Bowls gets groomed. Ergo, all
men are Socrates. So much for the theory that diamonds are a hedge against

So... is there slope inflation? Is what used to be a blue now a black? Or does it just seem that way because lighter, shaped skis and drastically better boots have made skiing easier. I was talking to a woman who taught skiing for 32 years a few days ago. She said "You hardly need to teach anymore. With today's skis people can just get on and go."

On the other hand, there are black slopes at Vail that are pretty clearly blue.


Deb Acord said...

In the memorable words of a ski area employee I quizzed once at Alyeska, the Alaska resort: "you got what you got."
I was questioning the "blue" designation on a trail on the Alaska mountain that swooped seemingly straight downhill to the bay. A blue in Alyeska would be a black here.

Anonymous said...

maybe the problem is the new designations blue-black and E T (extreme Terrain) both created to fend off law suits?

zen said...

You can call it blue or black. The mountain doesn't care either way.

blue goose said...

Slope ratings are a good measure of the relative level of difficulty between slopes at a particular ski area.
Prima and Highline were rated black diamond in the late 70s and are now double black diamond. However, they are still two of the most difficult slopes on the mountain.