Skiing Blue Runs for the FIRST Time? READ THIS

by Simon Naylor | Updated: October 27th, 2022 |  Skiing Articles
You've only ever skied on green slopes and you want to know when it's time and what its like to ski on a blue slope, then this guide is for you. Blue slopes are considered intermediate runs and have a gradient range of 25-40 percent. In Europe look for a blue circle. In North America (Canada & USA) look for a blue square.
Where Sign 
🇪🇺Europe 🇳🇿New Zealand 🇯🇵Japan
🔵 Blue circle.
🇨🇦🇺🇸North America
🔷 Blue square.
Not all blue runs are the same and it will have a range of steep to shallow gradients. It may look easy from the start of the run but it will have steeper sections than any green slope.

Who are blue runs for?

Blue runs are not for first or second-day skiers. They are for early to middle intermediate skiers. Skiers who can at least make wedged turns left and right and are ready to practice on steeper terrain. Skiers should move from the green slope to the blue slope, only once they can stop on their left and right side. You can survive with a snowplough or pizza, but it won't be very fun and you'll be absolutely exhausted. Stick to the green slopes until you're making left and right wedged turns and working towards parallel skiing.

Who are blue runs not for?

Blue runs are not for skiers brand new skiers who can't turn and can't come to a stop on their edges facing parallel. Skiers who find green slopes very challenging should not move up to a blue slope.

How steep are blue runs?

In Europe blue runs are on average less steep than North American blues. Although each resort and country has slightly different grades, these are approximate averages for how steep blue slopes are:
🔵Blue Slope Average Angle
📐 Degrees ° Percent %
🇪🇺Europe 11-17 20-30
🇨🇦🇺🇸North America 14-22 25-30
Bear in mind that grading is done by the resort and are relative to other slopes within the resort. There is no independent standard and skiers should assume a range of difficulty from one blue to the next. Even the same blue slope in different snow conditions will dramatically affect the skiing difficulty. One day it may have fresh powder and the next it will be icy and full of moguls.

How to ski blue runs?

The best way to ski blue runs is with parallel skiing. Most new skiers won't be at that stage yet, so the next best way is wedged turns. with wedged turns, you'll be putting more weight on ski than the other and making a left and right pizza turn and working towards keeping your skis parallel. If you're coming off of the green slopes, be aware that other skiers around you will be faster than you have been used to up until this point. Because the gradient will be steeper, it will be more challenging to make turns. To compensate many new skiers, lean back and have trouble committing to the turn. You must do the opposite, lean slightly forward and downhill and commit wholeheartedly to each turn by leaning your hips downhill.

How long does it take to learn to ski blue runs?

You could be skiing a blue run on your third day of skiing. For others, it may take them a week or more of green runs before they have the level of skill necessary. Not everyone will learn the same and will depend on your age, fitness, attitude to risk & balance. How Long Does it Take to Learn to Ski?

Are blue runs dangerous?

Blue runs are more dangerous for new or inexperienced skiers than green runs because they are steeper and faster to ski on. If you can safely control your speed then blue runs are safe. Blue runs are more likely to have more uneven terrain than green runs and more likely to have icy patches or moguls. (Moguls are caused by many skiers making parallel turns - which does not happen as much on Green pistes) Ski with caution, commit to your turns and look ahead to avoid other skiers.  Read more: Is Skiing Dangerous?

How much more difficult is a blue run than a green run?

Green runs are for beginner skiers whereas blue runs are for skiers who have at least a few days of experience. Skiing blue runs are more difficult because they are steeper and you can't rely on a snowplough or pizza to stop or safely navigate down. The steepest sections on a blue run can be nearly twice as steep as a green run, which means you'll slide twice as fast and need to control your speed twice as much. Difference between blue & red/black runs? In Europe, the next steepest color is a red run. In North America (USA & Canada), the next steepest color is a black diamond run. Red & black diamond runs are more difficult, steeper and faster than blue runs. You should be able to parallel ski and make a hockey stop before moving to a red or black diamond slope.

Europe + Rest of World

Where Sign color Difficulty
🇪🇺Europe Green Beginner
Blue Early Intermediate
Red Advanced Intermediate
Black Expert

Europe Ski Piste Color Angles

North America: Canada & USA.

Where Sign color Difficulty
🇨🇦🇺🇸North America
Green, white center. Beginner
Green Novice
Blue Intermediate
Black Diamond Advanced
Double Black Diamond Extreme
Canada + USA Ski Trai Colors   Top tips for skiing blue trails

Take a lesson

You don't need ski lessons to learn to ski, but they sure do help save you time and money in the long run. Get a friend or instructor to teach you and you'll be up and away on the blues before you know it.

Know blue runs aren't all the same

Be aware going into every new resort that a blue run won't be the same as what you might be used to. Even within resorts, one blue run to the next will have a steeper section or more icy section.

Find the good snow

Some days the conditions are icy and skiers whip up mounds of snow into moguls. You can't control the weather but you can seek out better snow. If you can seek out new blue runs until you find one with the perfect amount of powdery snow. Even small resorts will have more than a few blue runs.

Ski with a friend

Skiing with friends is usually more fun and they can help you retrieve a lost pole or help you get up from a fall.

Master the green

It's good to want to progress, but don't be too hasty to jump from green to blue. Green slopes are there for a reason. Master the green and work on technique before you spend your time on blue runs.

Start the day with a green

Even after you've skied blue runs a few times. If you're starting a fresh ski season, start the day with a warm-up run on the green. That way you're muscle memory from last year can have some time to kick in on the relative flat of the green. Start with a blue and you may risk an early tumble and risk injury. How to fall on skis. 

Blue lifts go faster

Generally, blue lifts go at a faster pace to green ski lifts. Be aware that you'll have less time to get on and off the lift.

Final Thoughts

Blye runs have some steeper sections are challenging for new skiers Only ski blue runs when you've learned to wedge turn and pizza stop. Spend at least a few days on the green slopes before moving up to blue slopes and don’t be pressured into it by your peers. Enjoy the journey.