Learn To Ski

Learn to Ski the Bumps Using Simple Techniques

If you’re like many, you may be intrigued by bump skiing, but a bit weary if you can pull it off. Downhill skiing well is challenging enough on average terrain – hit the bumps and everything changes. Experienced skiers dressed in fancy ski equipment and who “make it look so easy,” only adds to our anxiety. Nevertheless, you can learn to ski the bumps quickly and efficiently.

If you talk to the pros you may hear the following: “All you have to do is keep your skis on the snow with absorption and extension. Keep your upper body facing downhill and reach and drive with your ski poles.” Ok…..thanks for the tips! What the heck does all this mean?

The reality is this – moguls look a lot smaller from the chairlift. When you hit your first bump you may lose your hat. The second one twists and contorts your upper body, making you completely out of control. The third bump, smiles, as it ejects you from your skis, and you land with a thud on bump number four. Frustrated, but determined, you try again with the exact same results – don’t worry – there’s a fix!

First, don’t be discouraged or intimated and avoid excuses. Ski techniques much be approached with a positive attitude and a willingness to learn. If you’re nervous about people watching you – get over it. If you think you’ll get hurt or destroy your knees – it doesn’t have to be this way. While taking a mogul lesson is good, a one hour lesson isn’t going to make you competent.

There’s an easier way. We can learn to ski the bumps in a softer line by practicing some fundamentals. The notion that skiing more makes you a better skier, while true to a point, must be put aside. The more you ski incorrectly, the more you develop and cement bad habits. One can’t continue badskiing_bumps.jpg habits and effectively ski the bumps. If you do, you’re doomed for failure and injury. What we need to do first is step back and look at some fundamental exercises. (Visit Online Ski Lessons for more fundamental exercises)

There are two primary exercises: Side Slipping and Pivot Turns

The first activity to practice is Side Slipping and you can begin working this drill right in your living room. Start by simply standing sideways, as if standing perpendicular on a ski slope. We’ll start facing to the right, as if your left arm was on the “downhill” side of the slop. Standing in your socks, slowly roll your ankles to the right so you’re balancing on the sides of your feet. We want to pretend that we’re holding ourselves in place, with our ski edges, to keep from slipping down the hill. Next, slowly flatten your feet to the floor. Practice this facing both ways. Now try it with ski boots on. It will feel awkward – that’s normal. Practice in small doses for just a few minute a day.

When on the mountain, do the same thing as described above, but with your skis on. Upon relaxing your ankles so your skis flatten, you’ll start to slide down the hill. Let your whole body go with your skis. If your ski tips dip forward, lift your toes to balance and keep them perpendicular to the hill. If your ski tails start heading downhill, push your toes down. Play with this exercise until you’re comfortable keeping your skis perpendicular during the slide. Now start pushing your toes down to force your skis down. Then lift your toes up, to force your ski tails down. Practice this rocking motion back and forth as you gently work your way down the hill. We’ll get a better picture of how this comes into play on the moguls, but for now just understand that it’s the foundation to giving you better control of your skis.

The next activity is Pivot Turns. This can also be practiced in the home. Pretend you’re facing downhill while focusing on an object on your door or wall. In your socks, standing on a towel (preferably on a wood or tile floor), pivot both feet left, then right – back and forth – just like you would at a sock hop, but keep your body (and hips) facing the wall.

When on the snow, find a small mound so that the tips of your ski tails are raised up off the snow. You’ll likely be standing sideways on the mountain facing the side of the trail. If you’re facing right, flatten your skis and then pivot your ski boots left until you swing to the opposite direction. The key is to keep the focus on your feet. Let your feet pivot underneath while your upper body remains facing downhill. You will fall a few times – that’s OK and a normal part of learning this drill. This drill is awkward no doubt, but it will wake up the muscles that will allow you to turn when skiing the bumps – so it’s kind of important.

If you are confident with both Side Slipping and Pivot Turns, head for the bumps.

When you look down a mogul run, focus on the tops of the bumps. The tops are where you’ll turn, and they’ll provide the natural lift of your ski tails off the snow. The valleys or “troughs” are often icy and unforgiving to a beginning bump skier. The tops of moguls are covered with fluffy, soft snow. So, standing on “top” of your first mogul, look left and right for your next top. Important – you’ll see a flat ridge that “connects the tops.” Ski the ridges, not the icy troughs.

Facing in one direction on top of a mogul, use the Side Slipping technique and slip to your next, working your way down. This “controlled decent” in one direction is a great confidence booster. However, you will need to turn eventually as ski trails are only so wide. So when you’re comfortable and you land on top of your next mogul, try a pivot turn. Simply steer your ski boots in the direction you want to go. Remember, you can control your speed with the Side Slip. As you slide down the front of your bump, you can increase or decrease edge pressure (and thus speed), while you look for your next top. Rinse and repeat.

This style of skiing is slower and more controlled. It’s ideal for those first skiing the bumps. By Side Slipping and Pivot Turning you maintain control, allowing you time to get comfortable and build the confidence you need. When you are comfortable on the bumps using these techniques then think about skiing the troughs. Attempting the troughs right out of the gate will have you on your but in no time. You’ll be discouraged, disheartened, and cold.

Skiing the bumps does not have to be a barrage of jarring movements and jack hammering knees. Practice Side Slipping and Pivots turns separately from the bumps – own them. Practice the parts, then bring them together on the bumps. It’s a lot more fun when you can make the moguls work for you!