How To Ski Moguls (Bumps) Better

by Craig Jarvis | Posted On: May 15th, 2020
moguls skiing

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It is one of the more challenging aspects of skiing, and it is also something that many skiers avoid, but moguls are here to stay. Mastering the fine art and skill of skiing moguls is both challenging and rewarding, and this run-through should better equip you for your first mogul run.

Skiing moguls can be exhausting and scary, but as you get better and more experienced, you will realize that it is doable with minimal fatigue and no fear. When you have learned the correct technique, and understand the mechanics of you and your skis when dealing with moguls, it will be one of the more satisfying aspects of your entire ski experience. Other skiers will look at you with new-found respect, and you will be proud of yourself and your efforts.

How Moguls Develop

Moguls exist; it is a fact of a skier’s life. They are, in essence, a series of little bumps on a ski slope, formed over time by countless skiers pushing snow into piles when they turn. These small bumps grow with each push of snow, as every skier follows the ruts of the person in front. They can reach a height of one meter.

As the mogul gets more prominent, so skiers choose to go around them, further developing their size with more snow developing around their bases. Contrary to popular belief, moguls form easier and more readily on steep slopes, because the skiers make sharper turns and subsequently throw more snow around on each corner.

Mechanical grooming, on the other hand, tends to flatten out moguls and make the slopes as smooth and as uniform as possible. This technique enables the lowest common denominator – the beginner – to have a clean run without one-meter bumps trying to stop them or throw them off, and without the fear that these seemingly unassailable obstructions are purpose-built to rid the slopes of amateurs.

How To Ski Bumps / Moguls - Advanced Ski Lesson #6.4

The Body Of A Mogul

While there are many words in many languages to describe snow, there is a smaller lexicon to describe moguls. It is, after all, a mound of snow. One must traverse the uphill end to climb the mogul.

The top of the mogul is the flat top, and it can also be skied across, but more about that later. The side of the mogul is known as the fall-line, which is where you descend the mogul.

While ascend and descend seems to picture a big climb, it is sometimes tiny increments of climbing, completed in seconds.

Once you get going, you will figure out your approach as to whether you ski the flat-tops or you decide to ski the sides or fall-lines. Both are equally recognized, and the technique becomes a matter of choice.

What You Need To Ski Mogul

Skiing 101: Moguls

1. Courage

It is easy to say, but it is relevant that you need the courage to have a full go on a big mogul run. It is fast, it is bumpy, and there is so much more going on than a nicely-groomed route. So you need that little bit of raw mettle to embark.

2. Short turns

On top of that, you do need a well-established short turn. There is no way you can get going unless your short turn, or carved short turn, is solid, and that you exude confidence over this turn, both left and right.

Your mogul run comprises a series of carved short turns, in essence.

3. Balance

It is common sense that you need an excellent sense of balance. The amount of movement, and sway, is way more significant than regular skiing and normal graceful, swooping curves.

You will be readjusting your balance every few seconds, and it, therefore, needs to be finely-tuned.

Stability is equally as important as balance, and it is grounded in the core muscles of your stomach and your back. Basic training for mogul skiing should, therefore, include extensive core exercises.

4. Fitness

Physical fitness is a pre-requisite, especially at first. Skiing moguls is going to be utterly exhausting, draining, until your technique is firmly entrenched, and you can work on incremental techniques to reduce fatigue, but more on that later as well.

5. Adaptability

Adaptability is also critical, as every mogul run will be different from the previous one. It’s a little similar to surfing a big wave. Every single wave is different, and there are always unique aspects to deal with on every wave, from bumps to chops to boils.

Every mogul run will change and adapt, even just during one full day, so you will need to be able to adjust freely, to deal with all the unique aspects every time.

6. Body Positioning

To ski successfully on moguls, you are going to be crouched and engaged for the entire time. There are subtle tweaks; however, that will help your technique immeasurably.

A slightly straighter posture, particularly from the upper part of your body, will shift weight over the middle of your skis. This method will also teach your upper body to remain calm and give all the work to your legs.

This technique will help with energy conservation, holding off the fatigue that much longer.

Apart from doing all the turning, your legs also act as a shock absorber for all the bumps. Your bent knees absorb much of the shock as well.

How To Train For Mogul Skiing

bumps

It has become clear that mogul skiing is hugely taxing on the body, and physical fitness and stamina play a large part in mastering the art of mogul riding. Without physical strength, you’re not going to be in the game when it comes to skiing moguls.

You need a level of fitness that will aid and assist you in the learning process of mogul skiing, and some training techniques will help.

1. Cardiovascular Training

Cardiovascular training is always a good start for a base level of fitness. Your running, skipping, cycling or rowing program will still get you into a good start.

To build the strength of your legs, sets and reps of squats and deadlifts will help, as well as hip thrusts and squats with weights.

To develop power, set and reps of jump squats and jump lunges, along with the burpees and box jumps will help with explosive power requirements.

2. Mogul Skiing Techniques

At first, a mogul run will be ugly, and more based on survival than anything else. It takes time, but with some practice, you will soon work out your best technique. Some people ski the tops of moguls while some people ski the sides.

-- Ski the Tops

This method is the most straightforward way down a mogul field and is the best way to control your speed down. Start at the back of the mogul. You will stay on the same mogul and ski across the next fall line that forms the side of that mogul.

Turn back towards the center and end on the top of the next mogul downhill from where you started. This method is slower but will give you an excellent feel for mogul skiing, and is the best way to learn to negotiate these runs.

-- Ski the Sides

This method is way faster, and when you get good at moguls, it is the only way down a mogul run. It is a system where you bank from one fall line to the next fall line while maintaining top speed throughout the run. You can simply head to the top of a mogul to cut speed.

This method looks a bit frantic at first, but as your understanding of mogul skiing expands. You will notice the beauty and speed of this method.

3. Don’t Fear The Mogul, Be The Mogul

Mogul skiing is fast, and it is hectic. It can be quite scary, and it can also seem impossible at times. Yet so many people do it with ease and with a calm demeanor.

To negotiate a mogul run, you need to accept it for what it is – a challenging, technically tricky route that you have to master.

Having a stoic approach to the mogul run and not fearing it will make it that much easier to learn, and when you eventually master it, you overcome it. So adopt a warrior mode, fill yourself with the confidence you have, and take it on.

Sometimes the speed of the run combined with the quickness of the turns can seem to be too much, and you start feeling that the whole process is running away with you.

This situation is when you need to keep a level head, remember all your techniques and training, and tap off speed as fast as you can, and as much as you need. Confidence will get you so far, but pragmatism will get you further.

The only way to get through a mogul run without damage is to relax. Your ankles, knees, and hips need to be elastic and absorb the bumps while your upper body needs to be calmly in control.

Your legs will keep moving the whole time as you negotiate every bump, and there will be times when the vibrations get intense, but you need to stay relaxed. If any of your body tenses you will be out of synch with the moguls and you could slam.

This article is all about a positive approach to the skill of mogul skiing, so we are not going to go into any sort of detail outlining a big slam on mogul run, suffice to say it hurts.

Two other tips can help when you are focusing on the moguls.

1. You need to find your line.

It’s there somewhere. There is a line in front of you, and if you look for it, you will see it. When that line comes, you need to stay on it with focus.

2. Know your specific Tempo

Once you’re moving and negotiating the moguls, there is a specific tempo that will develop the further you go. When you find the pace, the rhythm of the run, you must stick with it all the way. If you’re immersed in your line and your rhythm, then nothing can go wrong.

moguls ski

Final Thoughts

Some people never venture into the world of moguls, mainly because they consider the learning process to be lengthy and therefore taking away from valuable standard ski time in which they are already competent.

It’s a valid point, for those that only fly in for a few days a year, but there are two critical points to consider when faced with the dilemma of moguls.

Firstly, when learning how to ski moguls, every single aspect of your snow game is lifted. Your short turn skills, your instinct, your confidence, and your level-headedness are all going to improve. So is your fitness. When you’re off moguls, your game is still going to be way better.

Secondly, when you see someone confidently negotiating a mogul run, with skills apparent, you immediately give them the respect due to their abilities. This respect will be yours. People will look at you, stop and stare and smile when they see you successfully ski moguls with a smooth and confident technique.

It’s one of the most significant stand-out skills on the slopes.

Simon Naylor, the founder of New To Ski, started skiing in 2005. He has continued to practice his skills and wanted to share his journey and knowledge with other new skiers. He launched New To Ski in 2018 to help first-time skiers have more fun on the slopes and get out and explore the mountains safely.