UCPA Ski and Snowboard Ability Levels

A large majority of the UCPA course options require you to be at a minimum standard.
Detailed below are the descriptions for the various ability levels.

The French Piste Grading System

Green Pistes
Learning or Beginner slopes. These are usually not marked trails, but tend to be large, open, gently sloping areas at the base of the ski area or traverse paths between the main trails.

Blue Pistes
An easy trail which are almost always groomed, or on so shallow a slope as not to need it. The slope gradient shall not exceed 25% except for short wide sections with a higher gradient.

Red Pistes

An intermediate slope. Steeper, or narrower than a blue slope, these are usually groomed, unless the narrowness of the trail prohibits it. The slope gradient shall not exceed 40% except for short wide sections with a higher gradient.

Black Pistes

An expert slope. Steep, may or may not be groomed, or may be groomed for moguls. Black can be a very wide classification, ranging from a slope marginally more difficult than a Red to very steep avalanche chutes like the infamous Couloirs of Courchevel. France tends to have a higher limit between red and black. ​




You are discovering the sport for the very first time or your experience is too poor to ski on your own. You will be introduced to your ski equipment and will ski on gentle slopes in a glide and then make some gentle turns and learn to stop under control. 


You have completed a week of skiing before. You can go down green slopes with confidence and certain blue slopes. You are gaining confidence to ski more quickly but are beginning to master your speed and control your skis and direction. You are developing parallel turns and starting to link turns. 


You master your speed and control your skis on blue slopes. You can go down red slopes when they are even but have difficulty when there are moguls. You are starting to ski some easy black runs. You are perfecting carving technique and body positioning, tackling bumps and steeper slopes, learning to manage difficult conditions. You are able to link confident parallel turns. 


You can ski confidently on any kind of slope of the ski area, even if you feel a bit less at ease on difficult slopes (moguls, ice, powder). You can carve effectively on groomed pistes, however your technique is not so consistent with steep or bumpy slopes during challenging snow conditions. You can adjust your technique and mix short and long radius turns when required. You spend time in the side country perfecting off piste technique. 


Your experience permits you to adapt your technique according to all situations and you can ski the whole mountain with excellent technique; steep slopes, moguls, different kind of snow. You can link carving and big turns on any kind of terrain. You are relaxed and comfortable off piste in difficult conditions. 


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