How to Ski Moguls - New Generation Ski School (2022)

Moguls add a lot of fun and variety to skiing, every line you ski varies and they force you to be dynamic to stay locked in a line. Yet even avid skiers avoid them. If that is you. Our guide on How to Ski moguls will hopefully encourage you to give them a second chance.

Every mogul field is a puzzle to be solved. You are required to turn when the moguls tell you to turn, not nessecarily when you feel comfortable. It’s a bit like tree skiing or ski racing, you’ve got to turn around the tree or gates to succeed. You can’t just ski where you like – so to say!

A lot of people find this tricky, as skiing moguls requires a lot of focus and athleticism. Knowing how to pick the best line through them and how to perform the key technical movements is crucial if you want to succeed. In this article, we explain how to ski moguls.

Firstly, what are moguls? If you’ve never heard of the skiing term ‘moguls’ before, it may be that you know them as ‘bumps’. Moguls or bumps are undulations in the snow that many people find tricky to navigate whilst skiing. Some moguls form naturally and others are purpose-built.

Skiing moguls is an art and requires the right amount of technique, discipline and fitness to ski them with style. Some of the best mogul skiers we know have impeccable timing, balancing the right amount of flexion and extension as they rise and fall down the slope.

They are decisive when picking a line at the start of the run and stay focused on the line, never faltering or showing that they are out of control. It takes discipline, strength and dynamism to remain calm and reset even after a little wobble.

Getting started: Mogul Skiing tips

Warm-up

Your knees will need to be ready! So we’d recommend doing a couple of laps on the groomed slopes to get your body ready as skiing moguls can be quite physically demanding.

We’d recommend playing around on the spine on the side of the piste (where the groomed and un-groomed edges meet). Practice skiing short turns, but start slowly and push the snow away from your feet, getting used to the feeling of steering your feet over the ridge and back again.

It’s useful to practice skiing in a variety of conditions and it’s especially important to take note of the snow, as it’s often softer in the afternoons, especially in the springtime. So planning to ski bumps in the afternoon is always a wise idea, as it will be more forgiving on your body, as the softer snow will make speed control far easier. Nobody likes icy bumps first thing in the morning!

How to Ski Moguls - New Generation Ski School (1)

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Pick a line & visualise it

To decode the bumps, you need to make a plan of attack by picking the best line possible through the bumps. Advanced skiers aim to pick a line straight down the fall line, from top to bottom of the mogul fields. A fall line descent does not mean that you ski straight down without turning. The fall line is a theoretical straight line between where you are and the bottom of the slope. When following a fall line descent you stay as close to this as possible.

There’s no right or wrong line to pick. That’s the beauty of skiing moguls. There are different lines and different tactics that can be used to ski the bumps. If anything, it’s more entertaining to watch someone ski moguls with flare and style, than be too rigid or robotic, in our opinion.

The aim when starting out is to keep your skis in contact with the snow. To do this you will need to use your legs like suspension, flexing and extending constantly. A great way to practise this and warm further can be to traverse across a bump run. You won’t have to worry as much about speed control as you are not skiing in the fall line but can still practise some of the movements required.

When getting started look for a line where the moguls are consistent and not too big. When it comes to line choice, it’s best to start easy and work your way up to the larger bumps. Scan your eyes to the edges of the mogul field, as often the smaller bumps are on the sides. We also suggest starting your journey on

Look for evenly spaced moguls as they will help you stay in rhythm and build your confidence as you pick up the pace.

Speed control & Turn Shape

How quickly you travel is directly linked to the tactics or line you decide to use. There are 3 main tactics or lines when skiing bumps. We will start with the easiest and work up.

The Inside or Inside wall line

This approach provides the easiest opportunity to control your speed when starting out. The aim is to turn on the highest point of each bump and then slide down the far or back side of it. It is almost like a never-ending series of hockey stops, but instead of bringing yourself to a complete stop just maintain a little momentum to start that next turn.

The Outside Line

When skiing the outside line your skis will move in a much wider arc out from and back towards the body. Rather than sliding down the back of the mogul, your skis follow the camber on the outside of the rut. A little like skiing or riding a berm. Skiing bumps this way often looks very fluid and graceful, however, you will travel faster. Speed is controlled using a combination of a rounder turn shape and some skidding of the skis.

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The Direct line

The fastest way to ski moguls and the approach you will see taken by Olympic skiers. It is difficult and physically demanding. When skiing the direct line your skis will spend far more time following the fall line. While they will deflect across the slope to match the terrain they will almost certainly never get close to being perpendicular to the fall line.

The main method of speed control for the direct line is pressure. As you hit the face of each bump you flex at ankles, knees and hips to absorb the impact then use the remaining momentum to initiate the next turn. Most skiers will check a little using a skid on the face of each bump but there is very little time and your body is already dealing with lots of forces. It’s a little like running into a wall every time you want to slow down and change direction.

This line requires the most practice but is great fun.

Our top tip would be to constantly look ahead to the next turn. When you’re in the middle of the trough, look downhill to choose your next control point before the next turn and repeat!

The first couple of times you ski through the bumps, you’ll notice your skis are across the hill a lot. But once you’ve had a go skiing the same line a few times, try and get your skis straighter, facing down the hill, one turn at a time.

You’ll probably feel uncomfortable again, but break the mogul field into sections and challenge yourself to five turns like this. You’ll soon figure out where your optimum speed is to feel confident, whilst also challenging yourself! Mogul skiing is all about the perfect blend of edging and steering.

Ready to Tackle the bumps?

When it’s time to think about the technical aspects of mogul skiing, you need to accept that you’re going to pick up speed as you’re facing down the fall line for longer.

Our top tip for the way you move through a bump run is to think about avoiding the holes or troughs in between the bumps. Imagine going around the edges or inside the wall of the bumps to keep a steady rhythm.

Certain Techniques to practice: Skiing Moguls

Being proactive when mogul skiing, instead of reactive is one of the best pieces of advice you can take from this article. By consciously and actively moving your body in anticipation of the moguls, you will remain in control and stay one step ahead!

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Moving up and down (flexion & extension)

It’s tricky to ski moguls if you remain rigid. It’s essential to flex and extend your entire body to control the amount of force the snow exerts on your body. Your centre of gravity needs to remain in a constant position down the hill, without being thrown up and down when you’re in and out of the bumps.

To put it simply:

You should be the smallest at the top of the bump

You should be tallest at the bottom of the bump (in the trough)

A bit like a car with suspension on a bumpy road, you must elongate your lower body when in the troughs and suck your knees up to absorb the bumps, when higher on the side walls. This also keeps your skis in contact with the snow, so your balance is less likely to be disturbed.

It can be tricky to transition from a very tall stance to a small stance, whilst remaining in sync with the terrain, but by having a strong core and using the tips mentioned earlier to find control points, you’ll get there with a little practice.

  • Suck your feet up

When you get to the seesaw moment on the backside of the bump where the tips of your skis are not touching the snow. You need to lean forward to create tip pressure to initiate the next turn.

By sucking your feet back up underneath you, your skis are in contact with the snow for longer, meaning you’re more likely to stay in control and perform consistent turns.

Sometimes in mogul skiing, it might feel like your body is ahead of your feet, but that’s totally normal! When you ski bumps you’re facing down the fall line for longer so you’re going to feel like your body is accelerating forward, whilst your feet are getting pushed back by the bumps.

When you’re on top of the bump you may feel quite centred, and as you can move into the new turn, start again by applying pressure to the front of the ski. Keep repeating this motion.

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  • Pole Planting

Using your poles in the bumps allows you to improve your lateral stability and rhythm, Pole plant after the bump (on the backside of the mogul), instead of on top of the bump – so that you are always reaching forward. If you plant your pole on top of the bump, it may throw you off balance too.

Top tips for pole planting when bump skiing:

  1. Pole plant at the end of the turn, not the beginning of the next one.
  2. Be ready to pole plant early (when you’re halfway through the previous turn)
  3. Be positive and decisive when planting your pole on the backside of the bump.
  4. Extend your arm out away from you, reaching forward.

A precise pole plant is essential when learning how to ski moguls. If you’re based in the UK and you’d like to practice skiing moguls, Chill Factore in Manchester has specific Moguls sessions in the snow dome. Find out more about Mogul skiing at Chill Factore.

Hockey stops

A hockey stop is when you oversteer slightly to come to a stop. This is a useful technique to impress your friends and quickly stop on the slopes. By creating an edge angle with your downhill ski, you can abruptly stop. You’ll need to have all your weight on your downhill ski, and you’ll need to rotate your feet at the same time.

It helps to have your feet a little closer together (feel for the boots touching on the inside of the ankle), and you’ll need an athletic stance to rotate your legs underneath your upper body. This same concept can be used in mogul skiing as you need to move your feet as one unit quickly and keep your upper body solid whilst your legs and feet do most of the work!

Learn how to do a hockey stop:

Ski Equipment

Do you need shorter poles for bump skiing?

Do you need shorter skis to ski bumps?

Do I need to rent different skis?

Having shorter poles in the mogul field will help to stabilise your upper body. If your poles are too long, you’ll have even further to travel vertically from the deep flexed position. Typically competitive mogul skiers use shorter poles than we use for normal skiing.

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These days, your rental skis will be absolutely fine in the bumps. Although those competing in moguls tend to opt for narrower skis and more flexible boots. If your boots feel too stiff, you can experiment by loosening the top buckle around the calf.

Do you feel like you know how to ski moguls confidently?

If you’re ready to take your skiing to the next level, join us in our technical clinics and advanced ski lessons in your chosen ski resort this winter. You never know, before long you may find yourself searching for moguls instead of avoiding them!

FAQs

How do they make moguls at ski resorts? ›

Moguls are formed by skiers on virtually all ski trails that are not mechanically flattened with grooming equipment. They organize spontaneously as skiers move along a ski run, kicking up snow behind them as they turn. The kicked-up snow forms into piles, which eventually turn into moguls.

How do I start skiing moguls? ›

When beginning to learn to ski moguls or bumps, you should first master traversing (sideways across the slope) the slope while allowing your knees to bend and absorb the hill. Then practice coming to the top of a mogul and start a turn by pivoting your skis and drifting down the far side of the mogul.

How do mogul skiers train? ›

Try skiing under easy terrain conditions and at a lower speed at first to develop your technique. A good idea to practice is making extremely short and tight turns on a normal ski run to simulate the short rhythm on mogul runs. Afterwards, try skiing in more uneven terrain to improve your balance.

Are moguls man made or natural? ›

Moguls are a series of bumps on a piste formed when skiers push snow into mounds as they do sharp turns. This tends to happen naturally as skiers use the slope but they can also be constructed artificially.

Why do mogul skiers wear knee pads? ›

In moguls, knee control is essential, so skiers' suits will often have a knee patch that is a different color from the rest of their pants. This is intended to draw the judge's attention to the skier's expertise.

Are moguls easier for skiers? ›

You may see skiers carving through mogul fields and think that they're easy for skiers, but the truth is that unless you're an experienced mogul skier then these parts of the mountain are difficult for skiers and snowboarders alike.

Is mogul skiing hard on your body? ›

Knee injuries are the most common type of injury in mogul skiing, but they are not at all the only kind. Injuries usually occur from falling after a jump. It is not just the knees that are vulnerable in mogul skiing, but also the hips and back. Mogul skiers are also susceptible to concussions.

Is a shorter ski better for moguls? ›

Shorter skis turn easier, particularly in the moguls. A shorter ski typically has a smaller turning radius which means that you will spend less time in the fall line and that results in slower skiing and better speed control.

Are wider skis better for moguls? ›

Skiers who like to charge down moguls will also benefit from a narrower ski since it will keep a tighter line through the bumps and be easier to control through quick turns. Intermediate and advanced riders will be pushing the boundaries more, both literally and figuratively, and a wider ski makes the most sense.

How do you ski moguls like a pro? ›

Maintain balance: Keep your hands in front of you, stay limber and focus on your pole plants. Choose an easy line: The easiest way down a mogul field is to make your turns on top of the bumps. Choose a fast line: For a speedier descent, you'll ski around the moguls rather than on top of them.

Do you ski over or around moguls? ›

It's good practice to ski over the mogul before making your turn at the peak, doing this will help to keep the tips of your skis out of the snow and you should find turning a lot easier. As you complete each turn, ski down a little on the other side of the mogul and turn your ski at the top of the next mogul.

Why do they ski moguls at night? ›

The sun has a impact on mogul terrain, particularly in the spring. During the day the sun will heat up and soften the snow. At night, if temperatures drop below freezing, the snow that has softened will re-freeze. If the sky is clear during the day temperatures will be warmer and the snow will be softer.

How long does it take to learn to ski moguls? ›

On average, it takes around 10 weeks before you're confident on all types of runs, even the steepest blacks. But some people might get to this point quicker. Your parallel skiing should be flawless by now, with your skis side by side the whole way to make a smooth, linked turns.

What is the black stuff in the snow on the moguls? ›

Black specks in the snow are known as springtails for a reason.

Why are there branches on moguls? ›

The plants are there to let ski jumpers know where the ground is.

What makes a good mogul ski? ›

An ideal mogul ski for recreational skiers is between 70mm-90mm underfoot, though some narrower or wider skis can also get the job done depending on other construction characteristics and the skill of the skier. Besides width, you'll also want to consider a ski's sidecut and flex profile.

Are mogul skis stiff or soft? ›

Mogul skis have special needs and design restrictions that limit their versatility out of the bumps. They are generally softer (especially in the tail), have mostly foam and/or fiberglass cores and have relatively no sidecut, which makes them harder to turn on or off piste.

Can you carve on moguls? ›

Carving is an appropriate technique for groomed runs. But, to become a good mogul or powder skier, you want to do the opposite of carving – which is to learn how to ski using a lower edge angles between the skis and the snow.

Why do ski jumpers spread their legs? ›

The Flight: During the flight phase, the jumper's body is ideally parallel to the skis to enhance lift. By spreading out their ski tips, jumpers are able to maximize lift by increasing their surface area, keeping them in the air longer.

Why do mogul skiers have black knees? ›

You better believe the athletes want the judge's attention to be on their knees. Mogul skiers understand something very important that many of us “don't know that we know”. Attention goes to contrast. The light / dark contrast of Hannah Kearney's knees, (above), will draw the attention of judges and spectators.

Do mogul skiers damage their knees? ›

7 The impact from landing after performing aerial jump tricks makes mogul skiers especially prone to knee injuries.

How tall are mogul skiers? ›

Skier Height (cm)Skier Height (Feet'Inches)Suggested Ski Length
1655'4150-175
1705'6155-180
1755'7160-185
1805'9170-188
10 more rows

Are slalom skis good for moguls? ›

The slalom skis' longer radius counterpart, Giant Slalom (GS) skis, are great for purely carving longer radius turns at speed on the groomed trails. This radius is a little more versatile for skiing the moguls and does not have the SL issues for instructors performing low end demos.

Do wide skis hurt knees? ›

The use of wider skis or, in particular, skis with a large waist width, on a hard or frozen surface, could unfavourably bring the knee joint closer to the end of range of motion in transversal and frontal planes as well as may potentially increase the risk of degenerative knee injuries.

Is skiing for the rich? ›

Also, you need to be able to get up the mountain, so you will need to buy lift passes. Ski resorts are not known for being cheap places to eat and drink. Also, lift passes can be very expensive, especially in North America. All this may suggest that skiing is a rich person's sport.

Can you learn skiing in 3 days? ›

Usually, beginners can easily do their first turns on the slopes after the first 3 days of their skiing course. It takes another 1 to 2 days of practice until beginners can take on blue slopes by themselves.

How steep is a mogul course? ›

Typically, mogul courses are between 650 and 885 feet long with an average slope grade of 26 degrees. The moguls themselves are set approximately 12 feet apart. The course includes two sets of small jumps that are used as take-off for aerial maneuvers consisting of upright or inverted tricks.

How do you absorb bumps when skiing? ›

Use your legs as shocks to absorb the bumps while traversing across and over them. Focus on keeping your head level and your skis connected to the snow as you move across the moguls.

How do they make moguls for Olympics? ›

These days, moguls are fashioned first using a snowcat plough, then finished by hand. And Olympic mogul skiing has been refined. Competitors take under 30 seconds to complete a course on a slope of around 28 degrees, and approximately 235m long, with the moguls spaced around 3.5m apart.

Do mogul skiers carve? ›

The mogul skiing control problem gets worse because mogul terrain, itself, naturally creates high edge angles between your skis and the snow – even if you are not trying to carve. And, these high edge angles produced by the 3-dimensional mogul terrain will typically cause your skis to carve.

Why is there grass on the moguls? ›

The plants are placed there to help ski jumpers' depth perception.

Why are moguls done at night? ›

During the day the sun will heat up and soften the snow. At night, if temperatures drop below freezing, the snow that has softened will re-freeze. If the sky is clear during the day temperatures will be warmer and the snow will be softer.

Are moguls machine made? ›

He explains that there are no hidden tricks to creating the mounds that look as if they have been shaped by a huge egg carton pressed into the snow. In this case, they were formed by machinery that piled the snow in offsetting rows. Normally, however, moguls are not built up, but carved down.

Are moguls natural skiing? ›

Moguls are bumps that you'll find on some groomed slopes at downhill ski areas. They can be constructed purposely by the ski area, but more often they form naturally as skiers carve turns down a slope.

Why do skiers make moguls? ›

When the snow is fresh, or soft enough, snow gets pushed to the side of the turn, away from the skis. This creates a curvy snow mound on the periphery of the turn that grows with each skier's turn.

Why are there leaves on moguls course? ›

Moguls skiers are constantly challenged to maintain fore / aft balance. The Falling Leaf drill exaggerates fore / aft pressure along the length of the ski allowing the skier to feel how shifting the CoM changes pressure along the skis length.

Are longer or shorter skis better for moguls? ›

Shorter skis turn easier, particularly in the moguls. A shorter ski typically has a smaller turning radius which means that you will spend less time in the fall line and that results in slower skiing and better speed control.

Are lighter skis better for moguls? ›

One, they are less tiring. Skiing moguls takes a toll on your body in a hurry, and anyone who has done it knows that things don't get any easier once you're tired. That applies across the mountain, too. Lightweight skis can allow you to ski better longer.

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