How to Ski Moguls

Published on 09/27/2023 · 7 min readSki Expert Matt Wood shares his tips and tricks for skiing challenging mogul terrain. With practice this ski season, you will be hot-dogging down that mogul field in no time.
By Ski Expert Matt M

Photo by Ronnie Chua

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 skiing techniques and tips makes the challenge attainable, and with practice, you will be hot-dogging down that mogul field in no time.

What Are Moguls?

Photo by Lindsey Martin Webb

Moguls are bumps found on the trails at some downhill ski areas, usually those in higher snow areas and steeper slope grades. They can be man-made, with a well-skilled snowmaking team and some extra snow, but the most common are natural moguls, which are formed after many skiers have skied the same ski trail. As skiers make sharp turns, they push a small mound of snow into a pile, and these piles become larger and more numerous as more skiers turn in the same spots. Moguls can form quickly on powder days when there's a lot of soft snow on the trail. Moguls have an uphill side, a downhill side, a flat top, and a trough, which are the valleys between the moguls.


Photo by U. J. Alexander

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 the “athletic stance”. This position allows you to be stable, centralized with your movements, and ready for whatever the hill throws at you.


Photo by Mike C. Photo

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 beyond the next mogul 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 a rounder turn with 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 tips of your skis absorb the impact of each turn on the uphill side of a mogul and should feel that most of your edge control is coming from the edge of the middle of your skis directly beneath the balls of your feet, through the tail of the ski. You will feel yourself get heavy as you compress into the trough of the mogul; use that tension in your legs to rebound yourself into the next turn and almost hop your tails into the next trough, heading towards the next bump. The ideal place to turn is on the top of the bump, not the downhill side of the moguls.

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 it 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 more challenging slopes. Below I've included a video of US Ski team mogul skiers Casey and Jesse Andringa as an example of perfect mogul form!

A note on feel. Bumps are all about finding a steady 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 proper 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. The best advice is to start small. Find a blue run with some smaller moguls where you can get a bit of practice without worrying about getting wildly out of control. As you progress to a higher speed, you can join the more experienced skiers on the steeper black ski runs. Another great way is to invest in a lesson; a certified ski instructor can assess your technical ability and explain the proper tactics of mogul skiing techniques that you should be focusing on.

Best Mogul Skis

What makes a good mogul ski? Like all ski gear, it varies a bit from person to person, but some general characteristic that you want is a lightweight ski with some pop that will provide some energy coming out of the turns. A rockered tip, along with tail rocker, will keep the turn radius short. A twin tip is also helpful to release the tails from the turn quickly. Many freestyle skis have these specifications and are good forgiving options for beginners and intermediate skiers. More advanced skiers may want a ski with a stiffer flex to provide extra edge hold, stability, and suspension, such as an all-mountain ski with a full sheet of metal. You generally want a moderate waist width; even though wider skis can float through fresh snow more easily, they're harder to turn quickly. A narrower ski will be easier to take advantage of the edge grip on firm snow as well. Generally, ski length should be a little shorter than what you would choose for all-mountain skiing, again, in order to keep the maneuverability high.

If you need any help with finding the best skis for mogul skiing, please feel free to reach out to me or one of my fellow Curated experts for free advice and gear recommendations. Whether you're looking for a pair of skis dedicated to moguls or resort skis with a lot of versatility to take in and out of the bumps, we can get you set up with the right gear for you.

Matt M, Ski Expert
Matt M
Ski Expert
I have been skiing since 2 years old, I grew up skiing in Colorado at Eldora Mountain Resort. There I joined the race team, where I learned to make proper turns. I persued racing until the age of 18 when I moved to Montana and began my career as a big mountain freeskier. I currently represent a number of brands and love the sport more than ever!
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Written by:
Matt M, Ski Expert
Matt M
Ski Expert
I have been skiing since 2 years old, I grew up skiing in Colorado at Eldora Mountain Resort. There I joined the race team, where I learned to make proper turns. I persued racing until the age of 18 when I moved to Montana and began my career as a big mountain freeskier. I currently represent a number of brands and love the sport more than ever!

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