Saturday, January 9, 2010

skiing: mogul love 18 ways

O mogul field, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:
classic short radius turn
Approach mogul, plant pole on top, as you crest the mogul the tips and tails of your skis clear the snow, so you can turn both feet simultaneously to swing the skis around in a short-radius turn and slide down the backside of the mogul towards the trough before the next bump. This is how most skiers attempt moguls, but there's more to life.
pivot slip
Turn your feet in-place on the crest so that your skis don't follow the arc of a short turn, instead they pivot within their length and you transition into a pure sideslip. Disadvantage: hard to control.
pop off pillow below
Don't turn so much, so your skis head downhill more than slide sideways. Guide your skis towards the soft snow in front of the next bump while keeping your body low. They'll hit that soft snow, your upper body will pop up and the unweighting will turn your skis the other way. Disadvantage: can be herky-jerky
leaper edge change
Ski diagonally to the bump, let it launch you, in mid-air tilt your shins and ankles to change from your uphill edges to your downhill edges, and land in the trough before the next bump. For bonus points, land past the next bump. Works better in shallower bumps. Disadvantages:needs room, takes guts.
GS turn across two/three/four bumps
Ski over the bump, use the unweighting to effect the edge change, extend your legs to the side but don't twist too much, and make a huge turn across the mogul field as you simply absorb subsequent bumps. Have faith, the power of your turn overwhelms the forces from the bumps. Disadvantage: how strong are you?
two tight turns down the spine
Make a tight turn or a pivot turn at the crest of the bump but rather than slide down its back, make a second turn again on the convex part. If you imagine your skis resting on a sphere, your tips and tails are always clear and ready for another turn. Works best on longer "beached whale" bumps. Disadvantage: it's harder to turn on a downward slope.
hop turn
Instead of a scrabble slide down the back of the bump, just do the entire turn in mid-air. This avoids any worry about your skis clearing the bumps nearby. Pick a suitable landing spot: on the backside, in the trough, in the pillow of soft snow before the next bump, or even on the next bump. Disadvantages: Could be a big drop, your back might hate you.
carve the water line
Don't slide down the backside of the bump, don't slide into the next bump, don't even pivot on the crest. "Simply" follow the 'S' shaped path between the bumps that water would follow down the hill. Retract your legs as the path flattens out, extend them to the side after the path changes direction and curves. Disadvantages: In two turns you'll be going ridiculously fast, sometimes there's no room for a carved turn.
aggressive turn finish uphill
Most people trying to link turns in moguls stop turning when their skis face across the hill, which doesn't reduce speed. As they improve they try to stop turning when their skis point to the start of their next turn, which usually picks up speed. To control your speed, keep turning your skis (whether skidded or carved) until they point uphill; you'll need to practice twisting your knees at the end of turns. (If turning is good, more turning is better!) You can either steer to a bump slightly uphill or skid backwards into the next turn. Keep your upper body facing downhill and the extreme counter-rotation of your upper and lower body builds up big forces; the moment you relax your skis will swing into the next turn. Disadvantages: none.
avalement avec le deep knee bend
"avaler" is French for "to swallow". As you ski to a huge bump, instead of popping off it or launching, crouch low to absorb it. Crouch ridiculously low to look French; when you plant your downhill pole on top of the bump your hand should be above your shoulder! Disadvantage: it's harder to pivot when you're that low.
le jet turn
Instead of pivoting as you crest the bump, shoot your skis forward and turn the tips in front of you. After a stylish drop into the trough, bring your upper body back over your skis Disadvantage: unless you're French, you'll look dopey.
backpedal the feet up the face
Retracting your legs as you ski up the face of a bump picks up speed. It's possible to resist the upward pressure of the rising face to slow down slightly. One way I've heard it described is you move both feet as if backpedaling from bottom to top on a bicycle. As you approach the face of the bump, push your feet forward and let the bump push them upward. Disadvantage: you have very little time to get this right.
push the dolphins back under the water
You can think of this as the reverse of back-pedaling up the face, you're moving both feet to pedal forward and down. But riding dolphins SeaWorld-style is more poetic. You don't want bumps to throw you (unless you want to do leapers or hop turns). After you reach the crest of a bump, you need to aggressively push the tips of your skis down and into the new turn to avoid an unintentional launch. Especially in bumps in new snow, you want to feel as if you're driving your skis back under the water — as if you're astride two dolphins that crest out of the water and then you drive them back under. Disadvantages: none.
punch the gearlever into third
The pole plant on the crest of a bump helps timing and gives you something to twist around. But as you move downhill you don't want that pole plant to hold you back and you definitely don't want it to pull your shoulder back so that your upper body faces across the hill. So reach downhill and plant the pole, but immediately push your hand further downhill in an aggressive move. It should feel as if you're rapidly shifting a car's gear lever from second to third. Watch freestyle skiers, their hands always return to downhill in front of them. Disadvantages: none.
one-and-two independent leg ("Hey, it's slightly better than a stem christie")
You want slightly more weight on the outside leg in any ski turn, and in moguls the outside leg has more room. If you're in a slight snowplough the outside leg is pointing in the direction of the new turn but your inside leg is pointing the wrong way and has less room. and winds up perched on the bump. So you start the turn with the outside leg and simply lift up the inside leg and put it down next to the outside leg. It gets you down the gnarliest bumps. To help avoid this, before you start turning bring your skis closer together and crouch lower. Disadvantages: less fluid, less control at the start of the turn.
skidded parallel turn to out-of-control traverse (oops)
Skidding a turn, leaving your pole behind, and not turning your skis all lead to you facing across the hill and bouncing into the steep sides of nearby bumps. Disadvantages: not stylish
sideslip with optional caught edge and shoulder plant (ouch)
Nearly all mogul turns involve some skidding, so skip the turn part and just do the skid. Act like a novice snowboarder and sideslip over and down the bumps fast and smoothly. Imagine that you're a 70s skier on 7 foot planks and it'll be another 3 seasons before you can make parallel turns. Disadvantages: by definition in bumps the snow isn't flat, so there may be NO correct edge angle for effortless sideslipping.
And if all else fails, straightline short sections, pumping your legs up and down like Jonny Mosely to absorb the bumps.
Disadvantages: can your knees take the abuse?
Armed with these techniques you can approach a mogul field as artistic goal-driven surgery. Here are some operations:
  • Descend as slowly as possible yet smoothly, by turning uphill and steering uphill to bumps.
  • Le French totale, all deliberate lower leg actions and huge knee bends.
  • Stickwork, punching the gearlevers and planting poles to set your downhill progress.
  • Maximum absorption, using retraction and extension over and down bumps to increase or reduce speed (I suck at this, in a skateboard halfpipe after pumping the deck five times I wind up motionless at the bottom)
  • Minimal effort, just directing and pivoting the skis in advance so that as you reach each bump it turns your skis for you.
  • Stay off the snow, doing leaper and hop turns off every bump instead of absorption
  • Two monster GS turns to cover the whole thing.
  • Keep all your turns in a narrow corridor regardless of conditions.



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