Mogul skiing is skiing through the moguls that other skiers have created. To ski through moguls normally uses short turns with a strong pole plant, and often has to be quite precise as the area you have to turn within is limited.
Before going too much further it should be said that this is going to make mogul skiing sound very difficult and complicated. As much as it can be difficult and complicated, much of what is mentioned here would either be done without thinking, or isn't actually as bad as it sounds.
Moguls are the lumps that are created when lots of skiers turn in the same or similar places, pushing the snow into piles. Moguls are not a set size, they are progressive lumps that are built up by skiers that are constantly changing. Moguls can vary greatly depending on many things including:
- Snow conditions
- The gradient of the slope
- The complexity of the slope
- The standard of the skiers skiing the slope
- The amount of the skiers skiing the slope
- The visibility
- and many other variables
This means that the moguls can have many different snow conditions, sizes, spacings, steepnesses, and even patterns and shapes. All adding to the difficulty of being able to ski moguls well, especially if you want to be able to take on pretty much what ever you find.
These variations occur not only between different slopes and conditions but also within a single slope, meaning that there is often not much about a mogul field that can really be considered constant. With large variations in moguls and their positioning being quite common, this can make it hard to get into a rhythm or even know what to expect when skiing through moguls.
Because of the large variations that moguls can have, to be able to ski moguls well requires a lot of practice. You have to be able to to deal with all types of mogul whether they are soft powdery moguls, hard icy moguls, heavy slushy moguls, or even a mixture of snow conditions. Then there is the variation in size, spacing and layout of the moguls, which means that each turn will be different. This makes all of the following skills come into their own when skiing moguls.
- Knowing what speed to ski through the moguls at
- Knowing how long you need to brake after each turn to keep the right speed
- Knowing the range of speeds at which you can stay in control
- Knowing how much room you need to turn and brake
- Knowing how fast you are able to turn the skis
- Knowing how much grip you need from the snow to turn and brake
- Knowing how much grip you can get from the snow to turn and brake
- Being able to choose the best route through the moguls
- Being able to change your choice of route quickly when needed
- Being able to recover from unexpected effects from the snow and skis
- and a lot more
To ski moguls well you have to be able to get a real feel for what you are doing, and be able to attack the moguls with confidence whatever they are like. This can only be achieved through practice.
How snow conditions effect how easy it is to ski moguls is much the same as how they effect normal skiing. Ice moguls are generally the most difficult condition as the skis are unable to break very well between each turn, making speed control very difficult and eveything very unforgiving. Soft more powdery moguls are generally the easiest with the edges having more control as long as the skis don't sink too far into the snow. Slush varies in difficulty a lot depending on exactly how slushy it is, but can be difficult as slush is heavy and can make the skis hard to turn, as well as how the skis can sink into it.
The picture at the top of the page shows icy moguls with a fresh layer of snow on top. The fresh snow will give the skis a bit more control as they go round the moguls and brake before the next mogul, but if the skis go through to the ice below they will slide a lot more and have a lot less grip. This uncertanty of what to expect can make it more difficult than skiing on one uniform type of snow.
Hard core mogul skiers use skis with a fairly large radius, which are quite stiff overall but with very soft and flexible tips. These allow them to get good grip on the snow when braking, but have the flexibility needed to get around the moguls.
On to the Off-piste Skiing section.
This section will be updated with more information on technique and graphics in the future.