Skiing as a Group With Varied Levels

By Rad Dad and Fitness Expert Dec 30, 2021
One challenge we can face when it comes to enjoying our time on the snow is varying ability levels. We all know “no friends on a powder day”...well maybe!
Skiing as a Group With Varied Levels

One of the challenges we can face when it comes to enjoying our time on the snow is varying ability levels. We all know “no friends on a powder day”...maybe. 

If you have a family with young kids, are hosting some friends that are visiting town, or planning an epic ski trip over the holiday with your family you’re going to run into different levels of skiing ability. So how do we tackle our ski days when we run into these situations? 


  1. Check yourself: If you’re the “ripper” of the crew I strongly suggest setting aside time for you to get the shredding out of your system ahead of time. At the very least have some days or even times of the day planned/set aside, and on the schedule so you have something to look forward to. This is HUGE when it comes to your level of patience with others.

    Once you get the riding you enjoy out of your system consider why you are actually there and put those around you first. I know, crazy. Try to make their day a memorable one. We will dig in more on how to do this later. Additionally, a great way to keep yourself entertained and even humbled is to try a new sport on the snow! If you’re a skier, start learning snowboarding when you’re with the other newbies. You like to snowboard? Bust out two planks. How about tele skiing?! I’ve done this in the past and the fun that I’ve had with those around me is well worth the rental price I paid for the gear required.

  2. If you're the intermediate of the bunch don’t be afraid of a little challenge, but keep things fun. I say this as someone that likes a challenge so take it with a grain of salt. I’m a huge fan of giving people the feeling of a sense of accomplishment. Make some goals for the end of the trip that gets you fired up on being on the hill. Maybe it’s skiing that bowl that you’ve had your eye on, building your way up to some black diamond runs, or even something as simple as learning how to carve and feel like a pro. Regardless, you being stoked will lift up those around you.

  3. If greens are your thing… all good. Keep it cool and no need to panic when it comes to riding with your friends. If they are offering to ride with you, don’t incessantly tell them “I don’t want to hold you up.” Get out there, have some fun and build the skills. Anytime I’ve taken on a new sport there is a learning curve. Some are steeper than others but it’s always a good idea to work on one or two things at a time and not overload yourself. A ski or snowboard lesson may be a great start to your trip, giving you the chance to identify some of those things to work on. Instructors can give you some great cues or concepts to think about in your riding that you can apply to any other day on the hill. Keep a good attitude, don’t be the one to fall into the “I can’t” mentality, and take small victories as they come. 

If you all go into the ski day or week being honest with one another on where you stand, what you’re comfortable with, and what you want to get out of the day/week it makes it easier to find a common ground.
Here are some strategies below to make the most of it.

Choose the right resort:

It’s likely we all have our favorites but this may not play well to the rest of the group. Some resorts may feel more “beginner” friendly than others. The reality is that EVERY resort has beginner and intermediate terrain. I would encourage knowing it well and choosing places that everyone can enjoy. Also consider ease of access, or even the lodges and food people enjoy when you're choosing a resort. It's the entire experience that I suggest thinking of. Especially if you have people in your group that are hesitant to get out there. 

Split up:

It’s likely that the experienced ones will want to go shred while beginners and intermediates take some time to get their feet under them or get that lesson under their belt. Even if it’s only for a few hours and the game plan is to meet up at lunch this is a great way to enjoy the day. By the time lunch rolls around we have the hard-charging or jitter genes out of our system. We can come together with one some runs that everyone appreciates.

Break and connect:

If you know the resort well and the group you’re with is comfortable you can ski portions of one run together, peel off, and meet up and another point, often a visible one. This can be a great way to keep people moving, having fun, staying within their comfort zone, and still getting the vibe of being together. The BIG key to this is knowing the resort. If you lose your friends that are more beginner or intermediate level and couple that with not knowing the resort you’re going to be in the dog house pretty quickly! 

Keep it to the runs that the beginner is stoked on:

This is making some of you crawl in your seats as you read this. I get it and have been there many times. Remember, you had your time on the hill or will later that day/week and this is all about them, not you. Plus, if your beginner buddies or kids have a blast, they will be more likely to want to go again and improve. You’re grooming your riding buddies for the future, and when this is your kids it’s worth every second! 

Let the beginners or intermediates suggest the runs at first. Give them full reign on where they want to go. Once you get an idea of their level of comfort and what they like, offer up some other suggestions. Choose wisely though and don’t get too carried away (I’m often guilty of this!).

If you’re in the intermediate category here check out the option below to keep things entertaining!


Side hits and “tree” runs:

You see them, you watch kids go on them all the time, and they are fun! If you’re the intermediate or advanced rider try testing your skills on some of the small jumps, hops off of cat tracks, quick little shots through the trees, whoops that lead back on the main trail, etc. Kids notoriously love these and if you can be the “guide” for them it’s going to make for one memorable experience. If you can stay visible with some of the others in the group that are on the main run it’s all the better. There is a shared experience here for everyone to enjoy. I still remember doing things like this from the time I started skiing and love sharing it with those around me that are comfortable with it. 

Ultimately, when it comes to riding with a group of varying levels it boils down to communicating with one another. 

-What do you want to get out of the day
-What runs/terrain are you comfortable with starting out on
-What are some things you would like to accomplish over the day/week


Lastly, make each other's day a memorable one. If you have that attitude as a group, the individual side of things will often take care of themselves. If you are the ripper of the group, be the patient guide. Share an epic powder day with your friends that they may experience for the very first time. Take your kids on the side hits and tree runs. Help the intermediate accomplish that goal they want to check off the list. Skiing and boarding are one of those activities we can do as family and friends for a lifetime. Set the tone and make it that way when you’re with a group of family or friends with varying levels.