Levels of snowboarding skill

One of the best ways to learn how to make progress as a rider is to take some lessons at a mountain or ski area. Many schools classify students by ability level so as to match students of similar abilities. They do this to make sure that students enter group lessons with others of comparable ability. You can use the classification to mark your progress in riding.

Here’s a skill progression from the eastern division of the American Association of Snowboard Instructors:

ONE: You have never snowboarded before.

TWO: You can perform a skidded traverse on both heel-side and toe-side edges and can stop.

THREE: You can perform skidded traverses in both directions with confidence and can make basic turns in both directions.

FOUR: You can turn in both directions with speed control and are working on linking turns.

FIVE: You are linking skidded turns with good speed control and shape, and are seeking more challenging terrain.

SIX: You are confident on most intermediate terrain under good conditions and are beginning to carve turns.

SEVEN: You are comfortable on all intermediate terrain under good conditions. You are fine-tuning carved turns and seeking more challenging terrain including bumps and varying snow conditions.

EIGHT: You are confident performing carved turns and are refining technique in all snow conditions and terrain.

NINE: You can negotiate the entire mountain with confidence and ease, working on the fine points of efficiency and exploring the extremes of riding.

(Note: This progression focuses on freeriding–going to the top of the mountain and riding down. For freestyle, which includes riding in the terrain park and halfpipe, the progression should be modified to include riding “switch,” or riding backwards, doing spins, and working with jumps and rails.)

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