You feel that you have confidence and the skill to ski reasonably well but when you find yourself in the mogul field it all starts to go terribly wrong, but why?
First you must decide if you are ready to start skiing this illusive strand. My argument is that 99% of skiers move too quickly into attempting moguls before they have the skill concepts required. This leads to an ingrained fear and dislike that spirals into a pattern of disillusion from the word go.
In my opinion you are always going to suffer in the moguls until you can ski steep pisted terrain with dynamic and varied short turns together with strong body alignment and a well timed pole plant. If your arsenal consists of only one type of short turn then you are asking for trouble when the terrain gets challenging. Some skiers manage to fight their way down a zipper line or mogul field in the misguided belief that they can ski moguls but in reality they are simply ingraining poor and inefficient motor patterns into their skiing.
Skiing correctly through a zipper line should feel smooth, controlled and dynamic as opposed to hanging on and surviving. Educating skiers to have better awareness of the basics will lead to the first positive steps towards easy mogul skiing. Here are 5 tips to skiing better moguls;
1. Start exaggerating on the piste, the movement pattern required to ski the bumps. If you can not flex and extend, making positive fore and aft movements on the ski on groomed piste, I am at a loss as to why people would think that as they enter more technically challenging terrain they will suddenly be able to do something that they normally never do when skiing. Is not logical to practice something new, challenging and let’s face it, scary in a controlled environment? Don’t assume that as it gets choppy you will suddenly be able to make movements never before practiced. Most skiers are simply too dormant on the groomers. An expert skier is constantly flowing and their joints are always adapting to the forces under the ski as they progresses down hill. The untrained eye may think they are doing little however to remain in good alignment they are working far more than you think.
2. Improve your core strength, your upper body needs discipline! With almost 70% of your weight sitting above your waist line any disruptive movement of the upper torso will only lead to a fight with the terrain under your skis as you will generate a nasty movement arm that is hard to control when traveling down a bumpy hill. If you fail to recognise the importance of core tension and strength in skiing you will never progress to the ranks of an all mountain expert skier.
3. Try to allow your legs to be guided into flexion and extension by the terrain rather than trying to second guess the movement pattern. Many skiers understand that they should be stretching and bending to map to the contours of the bumps but I find that they are always out of sync and misjudge the timing. If you avoid locking up your muscles but ski with a more relaxed feel the resultant force as you hit the back of the mogul will push your legs up towards your chest and as the force dissipates on the back side of the bumps your more relaxed legs will shoot back downward to give you better snow contact and most importantly, better timing. This tip only works if your feet have something to be pushed up against and that is why a firm core is necessary.
4. Keep your elbows in toward your sides and have a productive pole plant. If your arms tend swing around a lot learn to keep them quiet and fixed on the piste and bring into the mogul field your new pole alignment. If your shoulder is dropping back after each pole plant then you can forget plotting a successful line down the moguls. Poor pole movement is often related to poor balance so you may need to re-visit some of the basics.
5. Finally, check your equipment! I know that a bad workman blames his tools. However, that said in skiing, particular skiing bumps, badly fitted boots, boots that are too stiff, skis that make the job more challenging, poles that are too long/short etc. will just add to the already mountain of difficulties. It surprises me that each season I come across so many skiers with boots that are way too big. The boot is your lever to move the ski and when it is too big either in length or width you lose the ability to have the speed of foot required for the moguls. The sweet spot under your foot and set in the centre of the binding are misaligned and this leads only to more difficulties. If you find that you are constantly caught on the tails of the skis it is likely that the boot is too stiff. Beginners need to use appropriate equipment to assist them in learning.
Well there you have it! Be prepared to be frustrated and challenged as you put in the miles to improve your bumps skiing. Most skiers simply avoid the moguls and this is one reason why they do not improve. Sometimes we have to jump into the deep end. Have fun and keep smiling.