How to Ski Moguls
Ski expert Matt Wood shares his tips and tricks for skiing challenging mogul terrain. With practice, you will be hot-dogging down that mogul field in no time.
A great moment in a skier's journey is looking back up a hill after having skied a steep, rough mogul run once thought impossible. Skiing moguls opens up a new world of terrain on the mountain, and is a gateway skill that expert skiers must learn. While mogul skiing can be challenging, adherence to certain techniques and tips makes the challenge attainable, and with practice, you will be hot-dogging down that mogul field in no time.
The primary difference between mogul technique and carving technique is the stance the body is in when executing the turn. While the proper carve turn requires the front half of the outside ski to be pressured immensely to initiate and hold the turn, moguls require short turns and a far more rapid, explosive motion. It then follows that we must adjust our stance to allow for the absorption of the unique shocks that mogul skiing gives the body.
Begin with your upper body facing the fall line of the hill (for those unfamiliar with the term, “fall line” refers to the path a ball would follow if dropped down the slope). You will want your feet to be slightly less than shoulder width apart (but not so close that your boots are touching), knees bent slightly, arms at a 90-degree angle, with hands up where you can see them in the periphery of your vision. This is our start position, often referred to as “athletic stance”. This position allows you to be stable, centralized with your movements, and ready for whatever the hill throws at you.
Now that your stance is dialed in, we must focus on what the body is doing when skiing moguls, and think about how we might do those motions ourselves. A common mistake is only thinking one turn ahead, and the mental key to mogul skiing is visualizing the different lines you want to take. Moguls are positioned in such a way that each one represents a turn in the “line” of moguls you are facing. You want to try and look about four moguls ahead, meaning you know exactly where you will be turning well before you get there. This is particularly important in difficult conditions. Your peripheral vision will handle the current turns you are making, so leave the main part of your vision for looking ahead to anticipate the needed moves.
Pick a sequence of turns that looks like it has a natural rhythm, meaning each turn is a similar size and shape. The turns should be sequenced directly down the fall line. Moguls allow the skier to ski more directly down the slope, as they have a naturally limiting effect on speed, so take a more direct approach than when skiing groomers. You should never feel like you are crossing over a mogul in the horizontal direction.
Once you have established a few good lines, you can focus on the motion of bump skiing. The turn shape is different from your standard ski turn that’s in the shape of a longer arc, and can be thought of as a series of motions made to put your skis into the valley of each mogul. Mogul skiers “bump” from mogul to mogul, using the piles of snow to redirect each turn. Focus on keeping your weight in a neutral position and letting the ski do the work. You should be able to feel the front of the ski absorb the impact of each turn, and should feel that most of your edge control is coming from the sections of edge directly beneath the balls of your feet, through the tail of the ski. You will feel yourself get heavy as you bump into the trough of the mogul; use that energy to rebound yourself into the next turn and almost hop your tails into the next trough. Your turn should happen above the first half of the bump you are turning around, not below it.
You will also want to extensively use the pole plant to direct your turns and give yourself a point to pivot around. To do this, place the tip of the pole on the side you are turning towards into the top of the mogul you are turning around. This motion may seem awkward, but will become natural and indispensable as you practice and improve in the bumps. You will also want to focus on keeping the motions done by your lower body separate from those done by your upper body, which will be aided by your use of the pole plant. Your lower body will be doing most of the turning, while a quiet and composed upper body will help you stay calm, square with the fall line, and feel in control when the bumps get a bit more difficult. This is a particularly useful skill on steeper slopes.
Finally, a note on feel. Bumps are all about rhythm, and skiing them well takes a lot of time and practice. Each person will find their ideal bump rhythm naturally, and over time, will be able to use their rhythm to ski bumps in a natural, fluid manner. Using good technique, line choice and correct motion, and through diligent practice and a focus on the basic principles of bump skiing, anyone can learn to slay the moguls.
If you need any help with finding the right gear for mogul skiing, please feel free to reach out to me or one of my fellow Curated experts for free advice and gear recommendations.