Ski Technique - "Bumptastic" - Master the Moguls.
Down in the dumps about bumps?
Get them right, says Mark Jones, and they can be…
Bumps can be scary. One false move and you’re on the deck; too much speed and it’s like being on a wild horse. In fact, why bother? Most of the time you can skirt around them and fly down the smooth piste!
Yet - trust me, bumps can be fun. But only if you have the technique to deal with them. And the technique is completely different from anything else you do on your skis. Are you ready for the bump and grind? Here’s how to give yourself an easy ride in the rough stuff.
"You will fall, you will get frustrated, your body will ache after every session. These are the realities of trying to be a great skier in the bumps, and they are unavoidable. Accept how long and hard this process is going to be, and then embrace it."
How to start
The main skill you need before heading into the bumps is your ability to control your speed by skidding. A simple test for this is to pick a relatively steep, groomed piste and see if you can link short turns down the fall line within a two-metre corridor. But, and this is a big but, can you do this while maintaining a very slow speed? The only way you can achieve this is by twisting the skis sideways and getting them to
scrape against the snow to brush off speed. This is one of the key skills you’ll need to control
your speed in the bumps. If you can do this, try the same task again, but see if you can achieve it while keeping your feet very close together. This leads us on to the next challenge.
Yes, believe it or not, you need to start skiing like a throwback to the seventies, with a narrow stance. Why on earth would you want to do that? Well, if you use a wider stance, you’ll run into serious problems with the height difference between your skis. If you are in the trough between the moguls, one ski will be in the trough, while the other will be halfway up the bump; in that situation it’s very difficult to make
an accurate change of direction. If your feet and skis are close together, it’s much easier to pivot and steer in a confined space.
Getting amongst it
First off, stay away from that gnarly looking black slope: it’s just going to lead to a world of hurt if you go for something that difficult in your first attempt. Get on a shallower slope, hopefully with some small, rounded bumps. This is the sort of terrain you need to give you a boost in the right direction. Try skidding up onto the bump: that in itself can be a tricky move simply because you have to aim for a specific spot. To skid accurately and get yourself to the right point, it’s very important
to keep both skis on a low edge-angle, and try to keep perfectly balanced over the middle of your feet.
Once you skid up onto the bump, get your feet over the middle, or ridgeline. At this point it’s very easy to twist and pivot the skis simply, because neither the front nor back of the ski is in contact with the snow. This is the time to turn both skis quickly, so you can skid down the bump immediately, on track for the next one.
That method of controlling direction and speed by twisting and scraping through the bumps will work perfectly at slow speed, in relatively easy mogul fields. However, moving into steeper terrain with bigger bumps, this technique starts to reach its limits. This is the point in your own improvement when you need to learn another key skill.
Move your legs
As speed and the difficulty of the bumps increases, it becomes more important to use your legs to absorb the impacts and move with the terrain. Here’s how to do it:
1. Just before impact with the bump, move your feet forwards and keep your upper body vertical rather than flexed.
2. Allow the bump to push your legs up towards your body.
3. On the lip of the bump, dip your toes down and start to stretch your legs.
4. It should feel as though your legs are being stretched down and back behind you. This will actually keep good ski/snow contact.
Courtesy of Ski and Board Magazine www.skiclub.co.uk | Photos by Mark Junak www.snowimages.co.uk