Monday, April 6, 2009

Skiing Those Things Called Moguls

Although bumps are a much different terrain than typical downhill skiing, there is a secret. You actually will use the same movements as normal skiing, just in a different fashion and using different tactics.

There are several different strategies to tackling moguls (metaphorically, not literally). You may want to vary yours depending on conditions, ability level, comfort level, etc.

Generally, the most common strategy (and the one I usually adhere to) involves the following:
1.) Plant your pole on the peak of the bump
2.) Turn on the side of the bump and across the back/downhill side of the bump.
3.) Continue your turn as normal.
4.) Stay in your turn until you slow enough to a comfortable speed while spotting your next bump to plant and turn around.

By simply focusing on planting on the top of the bump and then turning around its side, you will find a smooth rhythm that should help.

Note that this is not the same as skiing a "zipper" line down between the moguls like the pros. That requires much athleticism, strength, and endurance.

David Lind and Scott Sanders, in their book The Physics of Skiing, describe to readers, "When skiing moguls, the skier should unweight - that is, release the edge of the ski - at the sides of the trough where the normal force is reduced and then skid the ski using counterrotation of the body, which will set the opposite ski edge into the snow and initiate a turn."

A little technical, so let me explain. Basically, you are naturally going to experience some flexion and extension of your knees. Let them do this - don't go against it. You want to keep your hips the same distance from the ground so that your upper body doesn't bounce much vertically. The bounce is going to come from flexing and extending your knees underneath your body. Another way to think of this is that you will be picking up your skis off the ground and then landing back down on them.

Turning on the sides of the bumps, or ideally, the peak of the bumps, allows you to maximize your movements when the force on your skis from the snow is at a minimum.

Lind and Sanders summarize by writing, "Simply stated, this physical analysis shows that skiing a banked turn off the top of the mogul is the easiest and most effective strategy for skiing a mogul slope." Don't just take it from me - there you have it from the physics experts.

So, remember to NOT turn before a bump in the icy part where everyone and their brother tries to turn. Do turn on the peak of the bump where there is soft snow that no one skis on. This makes it much easier to turn your skis, and also is much easier on your knees and legs (especially beneficial to mature/experienced skiers and casual skiers).

Also, balance, the "Foundation for the Rest," becomes critical in the bumps. Make sure you have a good, central stance and that after your pole plants, you keep your hands and arms in front of your body.

Trying to keep it simple, this is what skiing the bumps all boils down to. Follow the above tips, and you'll look more like a skier and less of a linebacker on the slopes.

No comments:

Post a Comment