The mogul field remains a mystery for many skiers—so easy to fear, so difficult to solve. But getting through a tangled maze of bumps is easier than you might think. Moguls form when several skiers turn in the same places on a slope, scraping snow off one spot and shoving it into mounds somewhere else. Moguls move and change constantly depending on the weather and the quality and quantity of skier traffic, so identify slopes where skiers of your ability are creating the bumps. Then use these tips to decipher the mogul code.
Hitting the Low Points
At first glance, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to a bumpy slope, so it's hard to formulate a plan of attack. Intermediates tend to focus on the low spots between bumps, seeking smooth places where they can more easily turn their skis. From this perspective, no route looks feasible. Moreover, skiing in the troughs is tougher because it's hard to control speed in these tight spaces.
SolutionSeek Higher Ground
A. In bumps it helps to narrow your stance, keep your upper body tall and hold your hands out front. Look at the tops of the moguls to find your ideal line.
B. Let your ski tips ride up the side of a bump as you approach a new turn. You will find more forgiving snow on the frontside and top of the bump. But you'll also feel deceleration. Be ready for it, so your body doesn't pitch forward. Swing your pole, and plant it right on top of the mogul.
C. Absorb the bump with your legs, so you don't get thrown in the air. At the crest of the mogul, only the center of your skis should be in contact with the snow, making it easy to pivot around your pole and point your tips toward the fall line.
D.As you slide down the backside of the bump, you'll gain some speed. Don't panic. Edge and complete the turn as necessary to slow down. Look ahead to the top of the next mogul. As you ski up the side of it, you'll automatically slow down.
Key ConceptLet the Mogul Do the Work
Several factors work in your favor when you ski over the tops of moguls. The first is natural speed control. Second, the snow on top of bumps is better than it is in the troughs. Third, bumps gives you a lift, so it's easy to unweight your skis. Fourth, your tips and tails are off the snow, so a tiny pivot is all it takes to change direction.
Skill level Advanced
ProblemCan't Control Speed
If you ski the obvious line in moderate to big bumps—in the troughs, where water would flow—you usually get locked into high speeds that might make you uncomfortable. What's more, your hard-earned carving skills (which you've mastered on groomed runs to control your speed) don't work in the moguls: The required turns are just too tight. So get used to riding a flatter ski, which is easier to pivot in the tight spaces.
Solution Don't Be Afraid to Skid
A. Stand tall, with your eyes, hands and poles in a ready position. Bring your feet close together, and release some tension (used to hold a carve) from your hips, knees and ankles.
B. Steer toward the next turn with your lower body, so your flat skis skid through the fall line. Using your knees, roll the skis' edges into the side of the mogul below and absorb the impact with your legs. This is called an edge-set, and it will stop the skid and help you check your speed. The edge-set and the pole-plant should happen at the same time on the uphill face—just before the crest—of the mogul.
C. Next, release your edges, extend your body, and steer your skis into the fall line.
D.Finish the turn and ride flat skis through the fall line as you head toward the next turn. Skid as much as necessary to control your speed in the troughs, and get your outside pole swinging forward to be ready for the new pole-plant and edge-set.
Key ConceptsLet Your Edges Slow You Down
Manipulate your edges to make accurate skids. Flatten your skis to begin skidding and start a pivot. Feather skis onto higher edges to create friction and slow the skid. Sides of bumps offer good places to stop the skid using an edge-set. This is called "smearing the skis, like spreading butter on a bagel.
Skill Level Expert
ProblemSkis lose contact with the snow
When you ski at high speed in the troughs and in the fall line—a route loosely known as the zipper line—you're in for a rough ride. You get bucked around, thrown off balance or even tossed in the air. Once airborne, it's impossible to manage your speed or your line. Edges are your only means of control, and to work they need to stay in contact with the snow at all times. Your lower body must react quickly to the changing terrain.
SolutionUse Your Body's Shock Absorbers
A. The zipper line looks relatively smooth compared to the rest of a mogul field, but it's far from flat. To absorb ripples and stay on the snow, you need to collapse your body like an accordion, flexing at the ankles, knees and hips.
B. Between bumps, imitate professional mogul skiers by standing tall with your feet together, so they fit between bumps. The more you extend in the troughs, the more you can flex when you hit a bump.
C.Great mogul skiers descend bumps with a rapid, rhythmic pumping motion. Constantly make yourself short, then very long. Keep your hands moving to swing your poles forward. A missed pole- plant can be disastrous. If your pole isn't ready, you're not ready.
D.Skiing the zipper line has nothing to do with carving. Keep your feet under you so you can pivot your skis quickly. Keep your upper body erect and alert. Skid when needed, and flex and extend to slow yourself down.
Key ConceptFull-body absorption—in which you flex your ankle, knee and hip joints to maintain ski-to-snow contact—happens in a vertical plane. In the moguls, think and move in 3-D—up and down, fore and aft, side to side. Your upper body, for example, should twist toward the next turn and anticipate your skis' return to the fall line.
CAPTIONS BELOWA. Mike's feet are close together, and his body is ready to absorb the next mogul.B.As his skis ride up the side of the bump, Mike flexes and gets ready to turnC.On top of the mogul, he plants his pole and pivots his skis into the fall line.D.Mike finishes the turn and picks up speed as he rides down the backside of the bump.A.Mike extends his legs and flattens his skis to begin a skid at the top of a turnB.To check his speed, he does a simultaneous edge-set and pole-plant.C.Mike releases the edge-set and points his ski tips into the fall line.D.With flat skis and a narrow stance, he can change direction quickly and easily.A. A human shock absorber, Mike flexes his lower body to keep his skis on the snowB. In the troughs, he extends his joints to prepare for the next bump.C. Mike is ready to collapse again as he hits the next bump and plants his pole.D.To make quick turns, he keeps his skis flat. His arms and poles are always ready