How to Ski Moguls: Overcoming Bumps on the Slope

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There are three things that are certain in life: death, taxes, and encountering moguls while skiing. There are some people who avoid moguls at all costs, while others seek them out for fun. We won’t tell you how to live your life, but just know that most mountains have quite a few mogul runs. So, being able to ski them will open up more possibilities for you on the mountain. Additionally, skiing moguls is a trait of any good skier’s overall collection of skills.

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What are Moguls?

Moguls, otherwise known as “bumps”, are the mounds of snow sometimes found on runs at ski areas. As skiers carve down a ski slope, their skis push the snow around. As more skiers follow the same path, the snow accumulates, creating moguls.

Runs that are groomed will have these bumps flattened out, while ungroomed runs leave them untouched. This allows the snow to continue to build and form the moguls. Each mogul will have an uphill and downhill side (front and back). The area in between the bumps is referred to as the trough.

Person skiing moguls

Tips to Ski Moguls

On routine groomed runs, we can get away with poor or lazy technique. You should feel confident in skiing blue runs before attempting to ski moguls. It doesn’t require any special knowledge, just practice. Moguls tend to highlight our bad habits, so be more proactive in concentrating on basic skiing techniques when learning how to ski moguls. Although mastering the technique is more important, it may also help to have skis that perform well in moguls, which are typically shorter and narrower.

  • Narrow Your Stance
    Typically you have your legs shoulder width apart while skiing. However, with the narrow nature of moguls, you have minimal room to work with. So, when skiing moguls, you will want to tighten your stance accordingly. Otherwise you will end up with one ski down in the trough and one ski on top of a mogul. And let’s face it – that’s an awkward and precarious position to be in.
  • Keep Your Hands in Front of You

    Holding your hands in front of you helps you maintain your stance and distribute your weight properly. It also forces you to keep your body directed downhill.

  • Have Active Legs
    Use your legs to absorb the bump and to push your skis down into the trough to maintain contact with the snow. Flexing and extending your legs to maintain firm contact with the snow is vital in preserving a balanced ski motion.
  • Utilize Pole Plants
    To help lead your body and balance, plant your poles on top of the bumps as you turn. Your poles should reach the bumps before your feet get there.

Mogul Skiing Techniques

First, find a good spot to practice. Start on a gentler slope, likely a blue run, with smaller and shallower moguls. It’s also nice to find an area away from the view of the chairlift if you want to practice without fear of judgement from falling. Then, once you start to get the hang of it, slowly start advancing to larger, steeper mogul runs.

Before charging down the mogul field, stop at the top and take a minute to pick the line you want to take. Keeping the tips listed above in mind, stay focused on the fundamentals. Run through the basics in your head like a mantra – hands in front, athletic stance, stay facing down the fall line.

Skier starting a mogul run

How to Ski Moguls Slowly (Beginners)

Turning on top of each mogul, rather than in between them, is the slowest and easiest way to proceed down moguls. Follow these steps to execute this beginner’s technique:
  1. When you approach the mogul, plant your pole on top of the mogul, while “absorbing” the bump with your legs
  2. Use the slope to help control your speed or slow down
  3. Pivot your skis while on top of the bump and turn around your pole
  4. Slide down the side of the mogul, while pushing your toes down to maintain contact with the snow
  5. Keep your eyes forward to prepare for the next mogul

How to Ski Moguls Fast (Advanced)

Once you are comfortable making your way down the mogul field by turning on top of the bumps, you can try turning in the troughs. Rather than sliding into and over the moguls, you ski around them. Follow these steps to execute this more advanced technique:
  1. When you approach the mogul, turn on the edge of the trough
  2. Try to time you turn to occur on the uphill slope of the next adjacent mogul
  3. Use the back side of the bump as a break (think of the moguls as bumpers that act as a buffer for controlling your speed)
  4. Keep your eyes forward to monitor what’s ahead of you 
  5. To keep your momentum, always visualize skiing 1-2 turns ahead

Video: How to Ski Moguls

Final Thoughts

Skiing moguls isn’t nearly as difficult or scary as some skiers make it out to be in their heads. Some people learn faster than others, so be patient when learning for the first time. Continual practice and a positive attitude will have you seeking out the mogul runs, rather than avoiding them, in no time.