Thursday, June 30, 2016

What to Expect from and How to Handle Black Diamond Slopes


Terry McEnany, MD, dedicated more than two decades to the medical field, serving as a cardiovascular surgeon. After retiring, Dr. Terry McEnany pursued his passion for skiing by becoming an instructor in Aspen, Colorado.

All ski resorts in North America use a rating system to identify the difficulty level of a slope. There is no standardization in the system, so ratings vary by resort. However, a sign bearing a black diamond will always signify a more challenging terrain, which requires advanced skills. Up to three black diamonds may appear on a sign. Each additional diamond informs you that a trail needs more expertise to descend.

Steep and narrow are common characteristics of a black diamond slope. Additionally, they often contain more hazards, such as rocks, trees, and cliffs and tend to be less groomed. Travel down these trails with caution and use hairpin turns to have full control of your journey. Hairpin turns help with regulating speed because it involves positioning skis parallel to one another and perpendicular to the slope direction, also known as the main fall line of a hill. This slows speed by creating more resistance and allows you time to execute your descent the way you intend.