Snowboarding has a steep learning curve… almost as steep as the slopes we’re flying down! This often means you can progress through the snowboarding skill levels pretty darn quickly. You might therefore be wondering what your current snowboard level is?
- Level 1-4: Beginner
- Level 5-6: Intermediate
- Level 7: Advanced
- Level 8: Expert
Keep reading to find out what snowboarding skill level you’re currently working with. I’ve also thrown together a snowboard level chart and a handy quiz to help you out!
Snowboard Levels Definition
Use the handy tabs below to see which snowboarding skill level best describes you. Be honest!
Beginner Level 1: It’s literally your first time strapping into a snowboard! You’re learning how to strap into your board, how to slow down and how to fall without hurting yourself. This stage fortunately only lasts a few days for most people.
Beginner Level 2: You’ve now mastered the falling leaf (holding your heel-side edge whilst facing forwards). You’re comfortable on the bunny slopes, when not pointing directly downhill. You’ve linked a couple of turns but need to work on consistency.
Beginner Level 3: Now you’re really snowboarding! You’re making toe-side and heel-side turns, maybe even linking them together. Your turns are still “skidded” at the end, which is fine at this stage. You might be eyeing up the steeper slopes and maybe even (carefully) tackling a few of them.
Beginner Level 4: Those turns are becoming smoother with much less of a pause between them. Your track marks now form a neat “S” pattern. You’re starting to find your flow and ride with your head up. You can now reliably stop which gives you the confidence to tackle some blue slopes.
Once you’ve mastered snowboarding levels 1-4, you’re officially on your way to becoming an intermediate rider!
Intermediate Level 5: You’re taking the smooth turns from skill levels 1-4 and linking them together at speed. You’re comfortable going straight downhill for small sections, knowing you can come to a controlled stop if you need to. You’ve probably ventured onto a black slope or mogul field but may still revert to broken “skid” turns on the tougher sections.
If you’re freestyle focused, you’ve probably mastered some smaller park jumps or side-hits. You may have even dabbled in a trick or two. The adventurous amongst you may have drifted out of bounds and had your first taste of a powder turn. Tree runs may still be a challenge but you’re starting to see their appeal.
Intermediate Level 6: You’re taking your skills to newer heights and steeper inclines. Those linked turns are becoming fluent and on occasion might even resemble knife-like carves. Skid turns still come out on a black run, but you’re pretty comfortable on them overall.
Blue runs are your playground. You’re happy bombing them at high speeds. Your turns here should be almost skid-free. All riders of this level should experiment with riding switch and some will be approaching switch linked turns on the gentler slopes.
Your off-piste riding has progressed to smooth powder turns and even some (cautious) tree runs. You use quick edge-changes to navigate tight spots or obstacles. You view moguls as a fun challenge, rather than an impossible minefield!
Those interested in freestyle should now be sending the small-medium jump line with relative ease. You might have a small list of basic tricks in your arsenal. This could include indy grabs, 180s and 50/50s. Some riders will have bigger spins up their sleeve, but this is not mandatory.
You’re now an accomplished rider who cruises the mountain with ease. There are very few slopes that worry you these days. On all but the steepest inclines, you’re able to hold a solid edge and a nice carved turn.
You’re very comfortable at speed and can stop almost instantly when required. You can smoothly link turns in switch, even on moderately steep inclines.
Freestyle riders will now be hitting the larger jump line and confidently landing rotations on the small-medium jumps. You may even have taken these to the halfpipe. You’ve also tried a handful of grabs and rail tricks, possibly even an invert.
Backcountry-inclined riders will be experienced in off-piste adventures. You’ve discovered the joy of slashing huge powder turns on a steep untouched line. Tree lines and narrow chutes aren’t a problem for you anymore.
Most advanced riders are comfortable exploring all riding styles, though they will particularly excel in their preferred area.
At this stage you’re a specialist in your chosen snowboarding style. So I’ve broken them down separately…
1. Freestyle Snowboarding: You’re comfortable on the XL jump line and should have larger rotations dialled in (540s, 720s). You probably have at least one invert in your trick-list and have your eye on another. Your switch riding is now smooth and incorporated into your tricks. If you’re a fan of rails, you’re now board-sliding with ease and working on some creative variations.
2. Freeride Snowboarding: You’re flying down pretty much any terrain with speed and style. The backcountry is your playground and natural features are your jam. You’re sending cliff jumps, carving through trees and slashing huge powder pockets. On groomers, your carves are super clean and you can bomb most resort runs with ease.
3. All-Mountain Snowboarding: Snowboarding feels like second-nature to you now. You dabble in all aspects of snowboarding and look good doing it. You may not have some of the more advanced freestyle tricks nailed down, but you’re still good enough to hang with the park rats.
Professional Snowboarders: A league of their own. These guys will take every aspect of snowboarding to a whole new level. You’ll find that even some professional slalom racers will have insane freestyle & freeride skills.
Does Your Snowboard Ability Level Matter?
Snowboarding skill levels aren’t supposed to make you feel bad, or give you bragging rights. Snowboarding should always be about one thing… having fun!
The snowboard level definitions are simply there to help you identify reachable goals and areas for improvement. They’re also useful when ordering gear and booking lessons or guides.
You need the right tools and people to help you progress, whatever stage you’re at.
If looking at your current snowboard level today happens to give you a little motivation, that’s just an added benefit!
The Snowboard Level Chart
For the visual learners out there, here’s a snowboard level chart. Which level best describes you?
The Snowboard Level Quiz
If the above system has left you feeling more confused, here’s a simpler system to work out what level of snowboarder you are presently.
Many snowboard schools simplify snowboard ability levels into the following groups:
Take The Snowboard Level Quiz!
Answer the following questions honestly to get a rough idea of your ability level. Remember, this is a very rough guide. It doesn’t take into account whether you’re super skilled in one snowboarding domain and less so in others. Use the 1-8 level system for a more accurate picture.
1. Have you had more than 2-3 days experience on a snowboard?
Move on to question 2.
2. Are you able to turn both ways? (toe-side and heel-side)
Nice. Move on to question 3.
3. Are most of your turns linked together relatively smoothly?
You’re smashing it. Move on to question 4.
4. Are you comfortable exploring more difficult terrain?
For example: uneven ground, blue (intermediate) slopes and small jumps?
Awesome. Move on to question 5.
5. Are you in control at high speeds, starting to make carved turns and venturing onto black runs? Are you riding switch, heading off-piste and comfortable on the medium jump line?
Hell yeah! Move on to question 6.
6. Are you confident in pretty much all conditions and terrain? Are you comfortable on larger features in the terrain park and carving at speed even on black runs? Are you linking turns smoothly in switch and exploring steep, deep backcountry lines with prowess?
Your Ability Level: Expert!
Congrats, you just completed snowboarding…
I’m joking of course. There is always more to learn and more techniques to hone. Inverts, gnarly backcountry chutes and huge halfpipe aerials are all on the menu this season!
Reasons To Find Out Your Snowboard Ability Level
Now that you know your skill level, consider what you can do with that information.
#1: Set Achievable Goals
Progression is one of the most fun parts of snowboarding. Fortunately, you’re likely to see a huge amount of progression when you’re just starting out. This continues up until around intermediate level and then slooooows right down. It’s hard not to expect to keep learning just as fast. After all, black runs and backflips are just around the corner!
Taking a step-back and setting realistic goals gives you more achievable milestones to master. This keeps motivation high and ensures you’re progressing at a safe pace.
#2: Buy The Right Gear
Another strong temptation is to hop straight from beginner gear to advanced gear (don’t worry, we’ve all done it).
Choosing the right board, boots and bindings for your ability level will help you to keep progressing whilst maximising your enjoyment. A beginner wearing hardcore free-ride boots or bindings is going to have a bad time. A very bad time.
When you’re renting or buying a board, the store will nearly always ask your ability level. Now you can confidently tell them, safe in the knowledge you’re getting the right gear for the job!
#3: Choose The Right Resort/Instructor/Slope.
You probably get the point by now, but once again, choosing the right resort, instructor and slopes for your ability is super important. A beginner booking a resort riddled in expert runs is going to hate snowboarding forever. Equally, an advanced rider won’t gain very much from booking beginner lessons.
Hopefully that’s everything you need to know about snowboarding skill levels.
Now it’s time for you to get out there and ride!
Take a look at some of the best snowboarding mountains in the world, choose one appropriate to your ability level and let her rip!