How to Ski The Moguls & Bumps In 6 Steps

Beaver Creek Ski Resort MogulsNow that Spring skiing is finally here, its time to start thinking about getting back into bashing the bumps!

This bump skiing basics instructional, I promise you, is not going to be technical and use terms that you may not be familiar with. Hopefully, it will give you some ideas that can be easily remembered once you are out on the mountain.

I am writing this tutorial with the premise of one friend answering another friends question at the top of a bump run. “So, how do I ski the bumps”?

It is easy for me to tell it like this since this is how it was explained to me by a few different bump skiers. And it ended up serving me well in Summit County and Vail, which I believe is one of best regions in the world for big and long bump runs. Just the thought of heading down Devil’s Crotch, Prima, Pronto, Pallavacini, Al’s Run, Mach 1, Outer Limits, Gunbarrel or Outhouse on a sunny Spring day gets me soooo amped.

I recommend to start of with bumps on a blue hill and ones that aren’t too big. You also don’t want too much spacing in between them and we will get to that later. A tight bump line is a good line.

The first thing I would tell you do to look for while scouting out the perfect line, is to find the bump area that is most consistent with the moguls spacing and the moguls size.

So after you have decided on your bump area, it is now time to pick the actual line you will take. Now, roll an imaginary ball down the hill.  Look at the path (ruts) where you think the ball would go. Got it? And wherever the ball goes and makes its turns, so will you. That’s it. Once you can master following the mythical ball’s path you will be on your way to being a bona fide bump skier.

Okay, so now you have your foundation for just being able to pick the right line. Next up is the start. Your starting position (stopped of course) can either be in an exaggerated pizza wedge aiming straight down the bump line or with your skis sideways to the bump line. Either way, you need to have your shoulders and head facing down the mountain with your hands and poles doing the same.

Your first turn is super important, so stick it! It will set the tone for the whole run as skiing the moguls is all about rhythm. Get out of rhythm early and it makes it very to hard to regain it.Lane - Squaw Valley USA

So now you have started to go down the hill with your shoulders square to the bottom of the hill and have made your first turn right where the ball made its first turn. Now, the next thing to do is not to miss a turn. I will repeat, “Do not miss a turn!” If you miss the next turn, you will not recover.

Most skiers miss a turn because they are going too fast. Well if you miss the turn, you will be going even faster for the next turn, coupled with you will now be in a different bump line.  So even if you pick up a little speed, try not to miss the next turn and try like mad to make it. If you still can’t make the turn, stop and begin again.

Remember earlier when I mentioned that you want to pick a line that is tight as opposed to one with spaces between the moguls? Any extra space between moguls will only enable you to let your skis run a little and you do not want that. So pick a tight bump line. The tight bumps actually aid you for two reasons. You don’t have to think where to turn and the tighter the bumps are, the less you have to worry about gaining too much speed.

You must use your poles while skiing the bumps. So, pole plant on every turn without fail. Even if you don’t think you will make the next turn, pole plant anyway as you may surprise yourself and make the turn. I swear this works for me. Also, most really good bump skiers have shorter poles, so chop’em down. This may not be such a big deal anymore as so many skiers who spend a lot of time in the pipes have already shortened their poles.

The reason behind buying shorter poles for the bumps is simple. As you are skiing down the bump line, you will constantly be compressing and absorbing the bumps. So in fact, you will be skiing like you are shorter.  While doing this, you will also be reaching for the next pole plant. If you have “normal” sized poles and you go to reach, the poles are going to be too long and high. Many times your pole plant is going to be on the side of the mogul while you are skiing in the ruts adding to the height of the poles.

Vail Bumps - Visit ColoradoPole plants down a bump run are multiple successions of the following at a  rapid fire rate. So the proper pole plant in bumps is to reach out and : 1) stab the gnome in the toe 2) then punch him in the nose. It sounds funny and feels funny at first, but once you are on the mountain and get the hang of it you will understand and see why it works. So just think, 1 -2, stab – punch, 1 -2, stab – punch the whole way down.

Let’s move on and talk about proper body positioning. Most of the movement while bump skiing happens in your lower body. So when you are going down the hill, your head should not be bobbing up and down. Your knees are being the shock absorbers, not your head and waist.

So think of it like your head needing to have a ceiling on it. Look down the bump line and draw an imaginary rope line that is the same height as your head. Now think of yourself going down the line without being able to go above the imaginary ceiling. Where will all of your movement (absorbtion) come from? It will primarily come from your knees (and yes bump skiing is hard on the knees).

Keep your feet close together, pretty evenly weighted and your knees slightly bent forward. You aren’t trying to make carving turns, but just following the ball down the hill through the ruts, so it may feel more like pivoting and sliding.

Okay, so lets recap and give you some final pointers.

1) Pick A Tight Line

2) Roll The Ball Down The Bump Line

3) Make Your First Turn Count

4) Don’t Miss A Turn

5) Stab – Punch

6) Keep Your Head Still

When first learning, you will “follow the ball” and will be skiing in the ruts as that is where the ball will roll. Skiing the ruts are the best way to learn as you won’t have to think where your next turn is as it has already been decided for you.

As you get better, you will then learn how to ski the sides of the bumps as well. This progression will help as you will be learning how to avoid rocks, stumps, etc that are in the ruts. After the sides, you will then learn how to ski the tops of the bumps.

Every once in a while or on a runout back to the lift, it is helpful to go out on the groomers and practice turning and pole planting. Try to turn as fast as you can and get into a rhythm and make many quick turns in a row all with your weight evenly distributed over your boots.

Just like the rest of the skiing discipline, everyone will have and utilize their own personal technique. Some experts look like they are effortlessly gliding right down the hill, while others look like they are trying to mash the poor innocent bumps back into the mountain. You will have to figure which way works best for you.

Have fun!

by Lane Lawrence