Have you ever been skiing and come across giant mounds of ungroomed snow? These are called moguls and they can be a beginner’s worst nightmare. Moguls may even give advanced skiers trouble. But if you want to conquer the whole mountain as a skier, you need to know how to confidently ski moguls.
Learning how to ski moguls and bumps can be nerve wracking, but that doesn’t mean they’re impossible to master. By keeping your skis together, absorbing the bumps with your knees, and turning on top of the moguls, you’ll be able to confidently ski moguls.
However, there are lots of contributing factors you’ll need to be aware of when skiing moguls. The type of snow, the temperature, and the time of day are all things you must take into consideration before you attack the slope. We discuss them all in more detail below.
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What Are Moguls In Skiing?
Moguls (often referred to as bumps) are, in their simplest form, mounds of snow. They’re formed when skiers and snowboarders push the snow into mounds when they turn. This usually occurs after fresh snowfall, but mounds can also form when a lot of people ski a certain run.
As time goes on, you’ll see pathways established between the snow mounds. Even though this is the easiest path through a mogul field, skiers continuously add to the size of the mounds. The longer a run goes without being groomed, the bigger those moguls will get. As you can imagine, skiing tiny bumps requires a different technique than tackling the bigger ones.
Where Are You Most Likely To Find Moguls?
The most common area to find moguls is on off-piste or un-bashed runs. These may get less ski traffic than other parts of the resort, but the piste bashers never flatten those areas. As such, it’s not uncommon to find off-piste mogul fields hanging around for an entire season.
However, there is one critical exception. If the entire area experiences a large amount of snowfall the night before, those bumps will start to show up all over the place. If that’s the case, the highest concentration of moguls will likely be found on the beginner slopes, as they will see the largest amount of traffic throughout the day.
It’s for this reason that it’s vital to learn how to properly ski moguls in case they appear on your next ski holiday. While there are times you can avoid moguls, there will be times when they seem like they’re everywhere and you may be forced to ski through them.
Why Are Moguls Hard To Ski?
There are many reasons moguls are often considered daunting or hard to ski. A lot of those fears for many people are the same ones they have with “normal” skiing – the fear of falling and injuring or embarrassing themselves – but some are slightly more specific to moguls.
Don’t feel put off by the points below, see them as challenges to overcome and ways to improve your skiing. As with anything, practice and patience are necessary to become a good skier. By reading some of the tips further down the page, you should be in great standing for your next trip to the mountains.
Familiarity And Fear
As we’ve previously discussed, the likelihood of a beginner or even intermediate skier chancing upon a mogul field is low, unless heavy snowfall takes place (or you can’t read a piste map). That means if you only go skiing once or twice a year, it could be a long time before you stumble across moguls.
By that time, you’ll probably feel confident on most parts of the mountain. But as soon as you come across moguls, it may feel like you’re learning from scratch again. This may completely knock your confidence down, and all that technique you’ve learned over the last few years will go right out the window.
Technique Takes A Back Seat
We’ve all been there: A run that’s too steep, too icy, or has too many people on it can make you panic. When you feel nervous, your aggressive technique turns into the toilet position, which will likely make you feel more out of control. It’s a vicious cycle, and one that takes time and confidence to get out of. The more nervous you are, the further back you’re likely to lean on your skis.
The further back on your skis you lean, the less control you’ll have. Keep your posture balanced over the middle of your skis, and you’ll have a much easier time getting down any slope, including any with moguls.
No Two Moguls Are The Same
Think of moguls like snowflakes. No two are the same, which makes getting into a rhythm with your turns a hard task to accomplish. On each turn you make, your entire body will have to make a series of micro-adjustments for balance. This is why it’s so crucial to have as close to a perfect posture as possible. Otherwise, the slightest change in terrain will throw you off balance.
It Can Be Exhausting
Because you must react so quickly when skiing moguls, especially big ones, it can seriously take its toll on you if you aren’t used to it. Possible more important than the physical aspect of skiing bumps is the mental exhaustion you may face. When you’re staring down the face of a 60˚ run with head-high moguls, it takes courage to ski over the edge.
Different Snow Conditions
To complicate things further, the difficulty of skiing moguls changes with the weather conditions. The weather affects moguls similarly to the rest of the mountain, but if bumps are new to you, you’ll have to get used to skiing them in all conditions to truly feel confident.
Skiing moguls in icy conditions means you’ll need to edge your skis and break on the bumps far more aggressively than in other conditions. Skiing moguls with a few inches of powder will likely be easier for many people, though it can get a little choppy depending on the location of the course on the mountain.
You Can’t Choose Your Turns
The great thing about skiing on a freshly groomed open piste is that you can dictate exactly where you make your turns. Long, short, carving, or a mixture of all of them, the choice is yours. It’s that kind of freedom that makes skiing so fantastic and addictive.
When you ski through a mogul field, however, that freedom of choice is often taken away from you. You may feel a little more restricted skiing moguls than an open piste, but you still must pick your line through the bumps, a skill worth learning for almost every type of skiing.
10 Tips For Skiing Moguls/Bumps
1. Keep Your Skis Together
Keeping your skis together while you ski moguls is perhaps the most important tip. It’s understandable that less experienced skiers feel more stable with a wider stance, and for the most part, there’s not too much of an issue with this on a bashed piste. However, if you’re skiing moguls, this is a recipe for lost skis, face-plants, and frustration.
While you’re skiing through the natural trenches created by the moguls, you’ll notice you have far less room to move your skis. Of course, this is dependent on the size of the moguls, but usually, it’ll feel cramped. As a result of the tight space, both of your skis need to move as one to prevent the side of a mogul catching an edge.
Other than a lot of practice, the best tip for skiing with your legs closer together is to keep your weight centered. Try not to lean too far backward or forward. This will help you keep your balance, which will in turn help you keep your skis close together.
2. Keep Your Weight Centered
Keep your weight stacked over the center of your skis. It may sound trivial, but the harder the terrain is, the more critical it is to focus on your posture. In order to use the full length of your skis, you must have your weight over the center. If you panic and lean back, as so many of us often do, you’ll only be using the back third of your skis. That’s a sure-fire way to wipeout.
3. Turn On The Bump
For many people, learning to ski bumps will be a slow process. There are many different opinions as to whether you should turn on top of the moguls or in between. There isn’t a right answer, but if it’s your first time, there’s a better order to approach it in.
For those just learning to ski bumps, work on making your turns on top and finishing down the side of the mogul. As you get more confident with your technique and you start to feel the terrain better, you can start following the troughs and turning in between.
Once you’re comfortable with both techniques, you should mix the two of them together, depending on the state of the mogul field. This allows you to find your flow and keep a rhythm as you fly down the mountain. Bear in mind, this take a lot of practice, so don’t expect to be good at it from the start.
4. Pick Your Path Carefully
Many of us who ski love speed. The feel of the wind in our face and the incredible feeling of freedom are enough to turn even the most cold-averse among us into ski addicts. It becomes a little harder, though, when you introduce a type of skiing that requires you to take it incredibly slowly in the beginning.
The first few times you attempt to ski moguls, focus on your form, not your speed. If you aren’t used to that kind of terrain, you run the risk of being unable to stop. You could fly over one of the bumps and potentially injure yourself or others.
No matter how steep the slope is, take a moment to visualize your path through the moguls and stick to it. The more often you perform this exercise, the quicker you’ll build up the confidence to ski as fast as some people do in the mogul freestyle events.
5. Get Flexible And Absorb The Bump
Flexibility is key for skiing in general, but specific disciplines like moguls require it even more. We typically talk about flexion and extension of the knee with regard to initiating and exiting the turn. While that’s still critical to remember when skiing moguls, in this instance it references the ability to absorb the bumps.
A great way to practice this is to find somewhere that wide, small bumps are starting to form and traverse over the tops of them. As you ski up the side of one, your knees should flex to absorb the bump. When you ski down the back of it, your knees should extend, and your feet should compress into the ground.
Keep practicing this simple exercise until your head stays at roughly the same height throughout the process. At that point, you’ll gradually work your way up to bigger and badder bumps, with a solid grounding in bump absorption.
It will likely feel a little strange in the beginning if you aren’t used to skiing like that, but it will stop you from flying over the top of the mogul field and wiping out 200 meters down the mountain. Remember, patience and practice are the keys to skiing moguls.
6. Leave The Race Skis At Home
While it’s true you should technically be able to ski in any condition and on any ski, for someone just learning a specific discipline, you need all the help you can get. In theory, the longer the ski, the wider and longer it will turn. As such, by using a shorter ski, you’ll feel like you have more control than you would using a big mountain ski.
Most ski rental shops will hand out all-mountain skis unless you ask for something different. These skis are neither too long nor too short and are generally built to charge through every conceivable condition, which is great for building up an incredibly strong foundation on moguls.
7. Get Fit
If you’ve ever skied an entire run in one go, or skied something a little beyond your comfort zone, you know how easy it is for your body to get tired. Due to the undulating nature of moguls, and the continuous use of muscles you’re not used to using, skiing bumps is an activity that works best if you’re the most fit you can be.
That means if you want the best chance of skiing moguls well, you’ll need to complete pre-season or pre-holiday workouts and stick to a routine before hitting the slopes. At the very least, try attacking moguls midway through your holiday. That way, your body will be well warmed up, but not overly tired.
8. Watch Out For Skiers Below You
There’s likely to be people attempting to ski moguls who are in a worse physical state than you, so always watch out for people who have stopped directly in your line. This isn’t an ideal situation, especially if it’s taken you a while to build up the rhythm, but nothing can be done about it apart from staying alert to prevent any unfortunate accidents.
If you feel as though you are stopping every few turns, or if you’re feeling nervous, stick to the side of the run and allow other, more experienced skiers to safely pass you. This will prevent others from running into you and still give you a chance to ski without hitting anyone below you.
9. Plant Your Poles
Even though it might seem a little constricting at first, it’s important to remember to plant your poles when skiing moguls. Poles are used for rhythm and timing and it’s essential to plant your poles just before the top of the mogul so you can build up a flow to help you get down the mountain.
Like most things when you’re skiing moguls, planting your poles will probably feel strange at first. But if you want to ski moguls properly, it’s important to do so. All you need is a little patience and perseverance, and it’ll become second nature in no time.
10. Be Patient
Always have patience. Like anything new, feeling confident and comfortable takes a lot of time and practice. It’s no different with moguls. If you only get out once per year to the mountains, you can expect it to take at least two years before you feel comfortable, depending on your skiing level. If you ski more regularly, you should be able to learn how to ski moguls in a matter of weeks.
Skiing mogul fields is challenging, but by practicing and employing some basic tips, you’ll be flying through the bumps in no time. Keep a flexible stance with your weight over the center of your skis, and take your time. Patience and practice are the keys to learning how to ski moguls.