Backpedal for Control


(SKIING Magazine) Few spectacles are more dramatic than watching the wheels come off in the bumps: Gravity and inertia get the upper hand, ski goes above head, ear meets mogul. To avoid getting out of control, you must mitigate the impacts by absorbing the bumps-obvious-but also by extending your body so that you’ll be in the ready position for the next mogul.

Think of it like backpedaling a bike, only with both feet on one pedal. As you approach the bump, your feet move slightly ahead and up on the face of the mogul-like moving your feet from the six-o’clock to the 12-o’clock pedal position. After the crest, your feet pull back and push down on the back side of the mogul, moving from 12 o’clock to six o’clock.

As your tips contact the bottom face of the mogul, you’ll experience “contact force”-the force that you must absorb by bending your knees. Let this force push your relaxed knees vertically and laterally, toward your opposite armpit, as your skis come across the bump (Fig. 1). You should feel at ease and in control.

On the crest of the mogul (Fig.2), your feet are slightly ahead of your hips, and your body is fully compressed. Once you clear the crest, initiate a pull with your hamstrings to get your feet back underneath your hips. As you pull back, think about pushing your feet down. This pull-back and push-down motion will put you back in the stacked or ready position.

Travis Mayer won silver in the bumps at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. He lives in Steamboat, Colorado.