Moguls are skiing’s agility course. To ski them well, you must make quick, almost reflexive shifts in position and balance on terrain that changes from moment to moment. More than any type of skiing, mogul skiing requires practice, practice and more practice.
Although there are different ways to ski moguls, the best skiers’ skis rarely lose contact with the snow. The goal is to flow with the bumps while absorbing the variances in terrain as you go.
1. Practice Your Stance
Before you tackle moguls, you should be able to make strong parallel turns with a quiet upper body. If you watch a good mogul skier’s upper body, it appears to float motionless down the hill. Only the lower body is pumping turns and absorbing terrain.
To help you develop this upper/lower body separation, imagine a triangle with your hands (both held in front of you) and your forehead as the points. Keep that triangle quiet and facing downhill. Practice this position on groomed runs until it becomes natural.
2. Learn to Absorb
When you ski bumps, your legs act as shock absorbers. Draw them up as you pass over the bumps, then extend them into the troughs. The following drills will help you with this concept.
* On easy, groomed terrain, practice hopping the whole ski into the air as you enter the fall line, changing direction in the air. As you land, bend your ankles and knees to absorb the impact and guide the tips of your skis to finish the turn.
* Traverse a run with small bumps, concentrating on letting your legs absorb and extend over the moguls. Repeat this exercise until it feels smooth and you can do it without jarring your upper body.
3. Pivot on the Bumps
One way to change direction while skiing moguls involves pivoting on top of each mogul. As you reach the top of the mogul, steer the skis to the new direction with your feet and knees. Next, slip down the back side of the bump while balancing your weight over the downhill ski. While sliding, reach your pole toward the top of the next bump; your next pole plant goes there.
As your ski tips slide down the back of the mogul, begin to extend your legs to compensate for the trough. When you approach the new bump, begin compressing (drawing your feet up under your hips) to absorb the bump. If your pole plant was on time, your center of mass will follow your feet to and over the top of the mogul.
Try the following exercises to get the feel of pivoting and slipping.
* Traverse a run with small bumps. As your ski tips reach the top of a bump, steer slightly uphill, then let your skis slip down the back side.
* Practice turning one bump at a time. Come to a complete stop before you try the next bump.
4. Pick a Good Line
Picking the correct line is crucial to good mogul skiing. Before you start skiing, plan your next few turns. If the moguls are well-formed, a natural turning pattern will emerge that will enable you to stay in the fall line and make round turns. Remember, the goal is to keep your upper body facing down the hill so your line will be relatively straight.
Learning to choose a line is much easier if you can follow a good mogul skier and if you start on unintimidating terrain. By allowing another person to pick the line, you can concentrate on your turns. Eventually, the line will become second nature.
5. Additional Tips
* Get aggressive on easy terrain before trying steeper slopes.
* Use visualization techniques
* As you watch good skiers, note their fluidity and rhythm. If the skier you’re watching can’t link at least 10 turns together smoothly without impact, look around for someone else.
* If you’re in the appropriate terrain for your skills, try to forget technique for a few runs and just react.
* Make a commitment to ski a specific number of turns before stopping.
* Although it’s easier to turn on short skis, don’t take them into advanced or expert mogul terrain; they form irregularly shaped moguls.
* Breathe. Inhale on extension; exhale on absorption.