Moguls. These knee-knocking frozen bumps have the ability to bring out strong emotions between skier and slope—skiers either love them or hate them. Take heart if you are of the latter group who avoid the mogul trails or cry when you happen upon one by surprise. Just know that with a little practice and patience, you too can learn to navigate these intimidating obstacles with ease. If you approach mogul skiing with a strong foundation of fundamental body mechanics and the right attitude, it can be a fun challenge. The first time you make five or six turns in a row with nice rhythm and good technique will be thrilling.
Learning to maneuver through moguls can give your skiing new life by adding another fundamental skill that will help you become a well-rounded, all-mountain skier—one that no longer avoids mogul trails.
Here are five tips on how to approach moguls with confidence.
1. Stay forward on your skis
There's no getting around it, skiing moguls will expose any major flaws you might have in your skiing technique. If you're prone to sitting back, skiing off the tails of your skis, or getting in the "back seat," learning to ski moguls is going to accentuate these flaws. If you find your skis are getting away from you and you're falling backward in the moguls, chances are you're not staying forward on your skis and skiing with proper body mechanics.
If you find this happening consistently, it's worth taking a couple of lessons and having an instructor analyze your technique. Tuning-up your form on groomed runs before you take on moguls will not only help you navigate moguls but also keep you safer. Trying to ski moguls with poor body mechanics is a recipe for disaster.
2. Absorb the bumps
It's important to have a solid skiing technique nailed down, then you can start skiing moguls. Bradley King
One of the first things you'll want to focus on is learning to absorb bumps. A good way to do this is to find a run that isn't too steep and the bumps aren't too big—you should be able to ski across the hill. Starting with a traverse, rather than going straight down, will help slow your speed. This allows you to concentrate on getting good at absorbing bumps using retraction and extension.
Retraction is pulling your legs and skis up under you as you ski over the bumps. Visualize lifting the landing gear on an airplane and bend your knees up and in toward your body. Following right on the heels of retraction comes extension, which is quickly extending your legs again as you drop into the trough behind the mogul.
Pretend you have a glass ceiling above your head and you don't want the moguls to force your head up through the glass. You want to keep your head level and your upper body quiet the whole time. Use your legs only to absorb the bumps.
3. Control your speed
When you start skiing moguls, it's important to pick a run that's not too steep and has some smaller bumps. Often the edge of the run will have moguls that are not as big and intimidating. You also want to start out skiing the bumps slowly at first. The name of the game is speed control. You have to keep your speed in check by completing your turns and using your edges to slow things down.
Don't expect to go slamming through the moguls like Johnny Mosley right away. Instead, concentrate on keeping your weight forward on your skis, making good turns with your hands and arms out in front of you, and focusing on good pole-plant timing. Absorb the terrain and carve your skis so you keep your speed under control.
4. Look downhill
Skiing moguls take patience and a lot of practice, but once you get it, you are on your way to becoming a better all-mountain skier. Daniel Frank
When you first start skiing moguls, your instinct is to keep your eyes on the tips of your skis and what is happening right in front of you. However, what you actually need to do is keep your eyes looking downhill at all times—at least three or four moguls ahead. The more you keep your eyes forward, the more you'll begin to notice that moguls tend to be evenly spaced and rhythmic, and you will begin to see a "line" in the trough between the bumps. You'll see where the natural turn is between the moguls. Find a place where this line through the bumps is symmetrical, even, and not too steep and keep doing it.
5. Repeat Again and Again
Once you find a good line in a mogul field—one where the bumps aren't too big and the slope isn't too steep—keep skiing it run after run, skiing slowly at first while maintaining speed control. You'll start to develop a sense of rhythm and timing. As you develop the rhythm and get the feel for the line you're skiing, you can then start trying to ski the line a little faster. Once you are comfortable with this line and have a feel for skiing moguls, you can start to up your game by trying larger moguls on the same incline or similar sized moguls on steeper slopes.
Learning to ski moguls takes time, but be patient. It's just a matter of breaking it down and working on fundamental skills. Once you learn those, you'll quickly begin to feel more confident and start to enjoy, rather than dread, the challenge.
Written by Eric Petlock for Matcha in partnership with Superfeet.