Senior Terrain Selection
Most regions have terrain that has consistently been used and accepted by the Eastern Division for OET events, the discussion that follows is for consideration when new terrain, for whatever reason, is being considered.
The Eastern Division Senior Scoring Booklet indicates what terrain each skill is to be performed on: More Difficult or Most Difficult, either Smooth or Moguled when available.
Unfortunately, as our sister organization the PSIA describes it quite well: “As each ski resort determines its own terrain difficulty, there is no standard for every trail rating. The levels of all alpine trails are relative to each other. For example, a beginner level trail (green circle) at a steep ski mountain may be markedly more difficult than an intermediate level trail (blue square) at another resort.”
The Eastern Division OET Steering Committee is striving to be sure that senior evaluations are as consistent as possible across the entire division. The goal being if an individual were to pass a Senior OET evaluation at one mountain, that individual would stand an equal chance of success at every S&T evaluation in all 14 regions of the Eastern Division.
What National has given us in The Ski Patroller’s manual, page 129, National Ski Patrol Senior Program Terrain Requirements is: “ To host senior alpine and evaluation activities, an area should have a slope that averages 40% grade (22 degrees) for at least 800 feet. Senior training and evaluation clinics may be on a shorter slope if it is steeper and if the hill is configured in such a way that many repetitions are reasonably possible. The terrain should be smooth and moguled. (Moguls may be unexpectedly unavailable because of last-minute grooming, snowfall, etc., but every effort must be made to select ski areas that meet terrain requirements under normal operating conditions.)
However, our scorebooks use the terms More Difficult and Most Difficult, and there is no correlation or connection to what the slope is for More or Most Difficult.
While there is no established standard for trail ratings the internet does provide some guidance, so as a working definition of trail ratings to be used in the Eastern Division for OET programs:
- Easiest: Up to 25% grade or 14 degrees.
- More Difficult: 25% to 40% grade or 14-22 degrees
- Most Difficult: Steeper than 40% grade, over 22 degrees
Take into consideration the width of the trail, sharpest turns, terrain roughness, double fall lines, and whether the trail is groomed regularly
The best method is for the RA and Division Staff to agree on what trails are acceptable terrain in that Region for an OET event, ahead of time. The real goal is to have the terrain be challenging enough to allow the candidate to demonstrate the advanced skills we expect of a senior patroller.