Friday, January 15, 2010

Skiing Moguls (1): Finding a Line

Warren Smith, the leading ski instructor and coach, offers his top tips on improving skiing moguls. The Warren Smith Ski Academy is based in the Swiss resort of Verbier. During the summer, the Academy runs courses on the glacier above the nearby resort of Saas-Fee.
In this video, he talks about finding the right line through the mogul field.

By Warren Smith (as published in
Moguls are mounds of snow that have been formed as a result of hundreds of skiers riding over the same slope. Skiing them is probably the aspect of the sport that fazes most skiers out – whether they are intermediates venturing into the moguls for the first time, or experienced skiers tackling steeper or icier moguls.
To ski them well, you need to develop a variety of skills. First of all, you need to be able to skid and pivot your skis: this will help you negotiate a line through a mogul field with control.
You will find that most mogul fields have bumps of different sizes. When choosing a line, look for consistency in the pattern of the bumps. The easiest place to turn your skis at first is on the crest of a mogul. Once your have pivoted your skis, skid down the back face of the mogul checking your speed as you go, and then turn into the next bump.
As you improve, you also need to develop your ability to “absorb” the moguls, rather than collapsing your body as you ski over them. To do this, you need to maintain a strong core in your upper body. You also need a fast and effective pole-plant, and to ski with a closer stance than you would on piste.
Finding a line: Many skiers get frustrated tackling moguls and lose their rhythm because they find it hard to keep a line through the mogul field.
One reason is that they don’t have the skill to move in different ways from one mogul to another when the bumps are irregularly placed. Another is not using certain key tactics.
Because moguls do not always occur in a regular pattern, you need to be able to skid and manoeuvre in different ways to keep your descent flowing. Practise this on an easy piste by making different types of descent – downwards, across, even skidding backwards.
Later, add a higher level of athleticism into your skidding. Finally, take these skills onto a mogul field. You’ll find that you will be able to ski irregular moguls more easily – and with a flowing technique, without stop-starting.