Want to Try Moguls, Here's a Few Tips

Pretty much every ski resort I’ve ever been to has a mogul run that is plainly visible from the main ski lift. I don’t know if this is intentional in some way, but part of me wonders if it’s a direct result of wanting to keep people in line for the lift entertained.

3/10/20235 min read

Pretty much every ski resort I’ve ever been to has a mogul run that is plainly visible from the main ski lift. I don’t know if this is intentional in some way, but part of me wonders if it’s a direct result of wanting to keep people in line for the lift entertained.

If you’re new to all of this, you might be wondering what moguls are. Simply put. Moguls are bumps. Lots of bumps. They’re not by accident, either. They’re typically constructed on purpose to allow skiers a chance to really challenge their knees…er skills. Skiing moguls is actually an Olympic sport, too. Mogul skiers are truly beautiful to watch. They seemingly glide from bump to bump allowing their legs and knees to take up all the ups and downs while their body remains fairly fluid. It’s pretty neat actually. The better mogul skiers even buy special ski pants that have lines on them to allow you to see the fact that their knees are together while they’re enjoying the bumps.

But here’s the thing. Moguls LOOK scarier than they actually are. Part of the reason people avoid moguls is because they had a bad experience on them ONE TIME. Or maybe twice… or three. The good news is, you don’t have to keep repeating the pattern. A big part of skiing moguls is simply understanding HOW to ski moguls.

Consider when someone first learns to ski. Snow plowing can be HARD. It feels odd to spread your legs and point your toes inward. Remember the first time you learned to side-slide? And then stop while side-sliding? It seemed HARD. But now, it’s old hat, right? I’d love to be able to quote some statistic right now that says Skiing is 10% technique and 90% confidence… but I doubt anyone’s funded such a study.

  • The fact remains, though, once you know HOW something is done, it gets easier. That’s the point I’m trying to make here. Sure, snow plowing initially seemed hard, but someone explained it, and you did it, and then it was just a matter of getting comfortable with the technique.

That’s moguls.

So, now that you’re primed and ready to learn the HOW. Let’s dig in.

First, we’ll discuss the construction of a mogul (what it is), then we’ll talk technique.

Every mogul (bump) has three basic parts. An uphill part, a downhill part, and the top, which is sort of flat. Often, they’re even scraped off. That’s the mogul. The part BETWEEN the moguls is called the “trough.” Often, this part is icy, and it’s usually the part that causes so much trouble for people trying to ski moguls for the first time.

Before we continue, let me impart some wisdom. If you’re not yet comfortable on your skis, remember that moguls are a Black Diamond run. Know your basics well, before moving into more difficult terrain.

Here’s a guide for moguls:

The body:

1) HANDS IN FRONT of you. This is critical, because it helps with weight distribution. It also helps keep you mostly pointed in the right direction, which is downhill. If you’re constantly thinking, “hands in front,” you’ll have an advantage over those who forget, because your body will be pointed the right way.

2) Be flexible. Don’t stiffen up. Expect to both extend and compress your legs while you’re on the snow. If you try to stiff-leg moguls, you’ll find that both your back muscles, and your balance will be impacted.

The equipment:

1) Your poles should be planted on TOP of the mogul (bump), and your pole tip should arrive BEFORE your feet do. Remember how your hands are in FRONT? This is how it works, point your pole into the top of the mogul.

The technique:

  • Make your turns at the TOP of a mogul. This is the #1 failure point of first-time mogul skiers. They don’t know that the safest (and easiest) place to turn their body is at the top of the bump. By focusing your efforts getting from top to top, you’ll find yourself focused on the part of the mogul that you can most easily control your body on.

  • Allow your body to extend between tops. You ideally should be crouched at the top of the bump. If you’ve stopped on the top, crouch before moving onward. Allow your legs to extend into the valley between them and crouch back up when the next mogul appears. This will be far less taxing on your body, and give you the greatest amount of control.

  • Don’t just “jump in!” Pick your line. This means you need to visualize how you’re going to get down, where your turns are going to be, and what your pathway through the moguls will look like. Take your time at the top to figure this out.

  • Look for evenly spaced moguls that are consistently sized. If your body is experiencing the same thing over and over, it’s a lot easier to get down the mountain.

Tips to help you get down safely (ok, it’s more “technique”)

  • Focus on the TOP of each mogul. Skiing up to that high point, you should plant your ski poles as you approach it, and allow the mogul slope to slow you down a bit. Remember, you’re not attempting an Olympic ski run on your first try. The key is to learn something new, then get better at it.

  • Twist your skis when making a turn. There is no glide turn on a mogul top. Have that pole planted, and twist the skis around them. You can actually practice this on flat snow, if you can find a single bump. The idea is to pivot when your ski tips and tails are off the snow (which is MUCH easier when you’re on a top of a mogul!)

  • Look ahead, look ahead, look ahead. Remember you need to be focused on what’s coming next, not just the mogul in front of you. That plan you had, when you picked your line? Follow it. The next mogul might just be an up and over, or it might be a pivot point. Know it ahead of time, and plan for it.

Once you are more comfortable with the moguls, and turning on the tops, you might choose to find a speedier way down the moguls. This will require you to pick a line that turns you on the outside of each trough (think of it as sliding through the bumps, rather than over them).

Lastly, don’t expect to be perfect. You’re probably not going to get it right on the first time down the moguls. Or the second. The point is to get out, have fun, and experience something new.

And definitely wave to the people in the ski lift line, if you get a chance. I assure you. They’re impressed your doing the moguls, even if you fall over a few times. Way to go!