So you have mastered the green runs and bunny slopes and believe it is time to move on. This is a great position to be in, as you are about to explore the blue runs, unlocking a host of opportunities for your skiing.
But before you head out, let’s go through some things you need to know about skiing a blue run for the first time.
Are You Really Ready To Ski A Blue Run?
As a novice skier, you may be finding it tricky to determine your ability to move on to more challenging runs. Blue runs are for beginner to intermediate skiers, so you probably should stick to the green runs if you are a complete newbie.
Before attempting a blue run, you need some basic skills and a foundation to build on. For example, you should be confident that you can control your speed and know how to stop.
When it comes to turning, you should be able to comfortably make snowplow turns but be progressing to parallel turns.
Snowplow turns are when you push the ski tips together and the tails away from each other in a wedge shape. To turn, put weight on either foot and swing your body in the direction you want to go.
You can do snowplow turns on blue runs, but you will find that it will get tiring pretty quickly. This is because they are steeper than greens, making you go faster, so you need to control your speed, which is tough on your legs.
Before you head for a blue run, it is a good idea to learn the hockey stop. This is a method of stopping with your skis parallel, and you turn sideways to the slope to stop.
The thing with blue runs is that many of them are not much more challenging than greens. But you still need to have some basic skiing skills before you make the step up.
If you can’t make consistent turns or trust that you can stop, stick to greens. This is also the case if you fall frequently or struggle to stay in control on greens or fall often.
It should only take an extra couple of days for you to build the foundations for going for a blue run. So don’t be disheartened, you will get there soon.
Going From Zero To Blue
How long it will take you to get to blue run level from scratch depends on a few things. Some people manage to get on a blue run after a couple of days of skiing. But others may take a week or two.
If you have a sporting background, there is a good chance that your skiing will progress quite quickly. The same goes for having a good fitness level, as learning to ski is tiring.
But the main element of progressing as a skier is the individual’s confidence and mindset. When you move on to more challenging terrain for the first time, you may feel intimidated. A blue slope looks steeper than a green, making a nervous person panic and go back to the green runs, even if they have the necessary skills.
You need to remember that you can take on a blue run as long as you can turn and stop. The skills you learned on the green runs are transferrable to blues. It is the same technique, so you can ski a blue.
If you are nervous, set yourself a goal for your blue run and break it down into bite-sized challenges. For example, head for a mellow blue run and challenge yourself to link four turns. Once you have done that, stop, have a rest, and aim to link six turns. Keep doing this until you reach the bottom…you have just skied your first blue!
How To Ski A Blue Run
The best way to ski a blue run is with parallel turns. But you can just use snowplow turns if you haven’t quite mastered parallels.
As blue runs are usually steeper than greens, you will be going a bit faster. This often causes people to hesitate or lean back. Leaning back is the last thing you should do, as you have less control and can gain more speed.
When performing a parallel turn, lean slightly forwards and commit to the turn without hesitation. You can also reach downhill and lightly plant your pole to guide you around the turn.
Your first turn on a steeper slope will be a little intimidating and seem pretty awkward. But it will become easier once you have built up a little momentum. As you initiate the turn, put most of your weight on the downhill ski, and your momentum will naturally bring you around.
As you reach the end of your turn, slow down by keeping your skis across the slope. Complete your turn and initiate the turn in the opposite direction. Link these turns to make your way down to the bottom of the hill.
8 Top Tips For Skiing A Blue Run
Book A Ski Lesson
Whether you are a complete beginner or a seasoned pro, you can benefit from a lesson. Ski instructors can provide coaching at all levels and have lots of experience helping skiers progress to the next level.
A ski instructor will be able to see exactly what you need to work on and adapt their teaching style to help you advance. The other advantage of booking a ski instructor is that they have knowledge of the mountain and take you to the best places for your lesson.
You may have a more experienced friend who offers to teach you and guide you down your first blue run. It is not good to let a friend teach you to save some money. Your friend may be a very good skier, but they may be a terrible instructor.
Ski lessons from friends can cause frustration and awkwardness. You are supposed to be enjoying your mountain time, so don’t take the risk and book an instructor.
Do A Couple Of Warm-Up Runs
Before you attempt your first blue run, do a couple of warm-up runs on a slope you are comfortable with. This will reinforce what you have learned so far and allow you to get a feeling for the skis and snow conditions.
A warm-up on a green run is a good opportunity to reacquaint yourself with turning and stopping before heading for the blue runs.
Ask Advice From Locals
Blue runs can vary in difficulty throughout the ski resort. Also, the difficulty of blue runs in one ski resort can be very different from another. With this in mind, it can be tricky to work out which blue run to tackle first.
It is a good idea to ask locals which blue runs are suitable for a first-timer. A local ski instructor, lift operator, ski patroller, hotel concierge, etc., will know where the best blue runs for you are. They will be able to advise you of the ones to avoid due to current snow conditions, how crowded they are, and how easy the lift is to use.
Don’t be afraid to ask these people, as they will be more than happy to advise you.
Pay Attention to Chairlifts
If you have only skied on green runs so far, you will probably have only used magic carpets, slow chairlifts, and drag lifts. But when you move on to blue slopes, you should expect them to be serviced by faster lifts than you are used to.
It is a given that ski resorts expect skiers and snowboarders to have the skills to get on and off chairlifts efficiently. These faster lifts may be intimidating, but they are straightforward to use.
When you get on the chairlift, stand at the line and wait for the chair to come around behind you. But watch it as it approaches, then simply sit down at the right time.
Drop the safety bar down as soon as everyone is settled in their seat. Sit back, relax and enjoy the view.
As you approach the top lift station, you will notice a sign indicating where to lift the safety bar. Lift the bar and point your ski tips up slightly as you “come into land.” Then stand up and ski away from the lift.
The key is not to panic. If you stay relaxed, you will find that getting on and off a chairlift is pretty easy.
If you feel nervous about getting on and off the chairlift, you can tell the lift operator, who may slow it down for you. At the very least, they will help you get on and off safely.
Don’t Be Forced Into It
You may feel pressured by others or your own ego to take on a blue run before you are ready. If you get to the top of a blue run and don’t feel ready to ski it if you can, choose an alternative route down the mountain if possible.
There is nothing wrong with taking your time with progression. Make sure you are comfortable with your ability before moving on to more challenging slopes.
Scope Out The Runs
When you feel like it’s time to move on from the green runs, look at the ski area’s map. Look for an area on the ski map with a few blue runs and a green one if possible.
If you have a few blue runs to choose from, you can find one that suits your ability, as they won’t all be identical. Some will be steeper than others; some will be in the sun, which softens the snow, while others may be in the shade, making them icy.
It’s good to have a choice if the terrain allows it. If the blues look too tricky, aim for the green as a less intimidating way down. But when you have done one of these blue runs, why not tick them all off as you please?
Watch Other Skiers
Taking a moment at the top of the slope or by the side to watch other skiers is a great thing to do. You can get a good idea of the snow conditions and spot difficult sections.
If a few people fall or struggle in one section of the slope, avoid it as it could be icy or have a large mogul upsetting their technique. Instead, head for a more forgiving part of the slope (you will often find the best snow on the side of the slopes).
Watching other people is a good way of improving your technique. You can see how good skiers make their way down the mountain. It will take you a while to get to their level, but you can emulate their style and see how they cope with snow conditions.
Learn About Safety And Etiquette
There are a few things you can do to stay safe on the mountain. Most of these things are common sense, but it is difficult to remember these things when you are focussing on your skiing technique.
Your skiing instructor should introduce you to some of the safety and etiquette rules. But they are often printed on the ski area map as a reminder.
The basic things you need to remember are:
- The downhill skier always has the right of way. If you crash into someone from behind, it is your fault. So make sure you give people space and be ready to turn or stop in an emergency.
- Always look behind you before you set off. Skiers on blue runs will be going much faster than on green runs. So you need to make sure the coast is clear, so you don’t cause an accident.
- Pay attention to where you stop. Don’t stop in the middle of the slope, on a blind bend, or below a ridge. Skiers charging down the mountain won’t see you and could crash into you.
Skiing a blue run is a lot of fun, even for expert skiers. Blue runs make up the skiable terrain of most ski resorts, so you have much more to play with once you have developed the skills.