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IS A SLIDING SPORT":
[Note to editor and readers: this section in particular is in early draft form and will be added to and rewritten; nevertheless, there are many useful ideas below, just not organized. Organization may be into what bumps are, bump lines to ski, how and why to start learning to ski bumps, techniques of bump skiing including variations of turning methods and pitfalls of defensive techniques]
Remember the bumper sticker of a few years back, "S__t happens"? And the town in western Colorado that jumped into the act with "Silt happens"? Well, that's what moguls, or bumps, do. They happen. And they can happen where you might least expect them or want them to happen. They happen even on easy green trails when snow conditions and skier traffic are just so. If you are a skier who would ski the whole mountain, you had better add bump skiing to your skill bag, or keep it there, at least to the level where you can handle them when you must. And because can happen almost anywhere and almost anytime, you had better have some idea of how to cope when they pop up in front of you.
Of course some skiers enjoy skiing moguls. And on steeper slopes bumps often make it easier to manage speed. for the uphill sides of the bumps create an upslope to slow skier's down and even provide flatter spots to aid turning..
Moguls are bumps on ski slopes. They grow as skiers and boarders make turns, scraping a bit of snow and creating grooves. Subsequent skiers and boarders following the same paths tend to use the slightly higher spots that grow in this process and make their turns in much the same places. In earlier ski times, bumps rarely formed, if at all, for skiers used longer skis that did not turn readily in tighter radiuses and ski slope traffic was less. But sometime in the 1960s the "itsy-bitsy" turn became the fashion, and bumps became a new factor to master.
Once started, bumps just grow and grow, and can get several feet tall--you may hear of "Volkswagen bumps". And they have many shapes, depending on snow conditions, steepness of hill, and skill of those who made them and their equipment. For instance, the shorter skis and the snowboards of today create bumps that are more closely spaced; more highly skilled skiers and boarders create rounder bumps, lesser skilled ones often "chop" their turns off with an abrupt direction change, and chop the bump, too, creating short vertical walls. And those who ski the "zipper line" (straight down the hill with rapid and small-radius turns) create paths marked by indented tracks regularly offset to the right and left..
Bumps may be groomed into existence with shovels, often done for competitions. Bumps can be shaped into existence, too, with grooming machines that have tillers that can be raised up and down. A first pass is made up or down the slope creating rolls and hollows. An adjacent pass is made so that the hollow of this pass matches the roll of the first and so a uniform course is created on the line between the two passes. Such terrain is excellent for beginning bumpers to learn on, for the variables of natural bumps are minimized. Curiously, few ski areas provide this form of grooming, however. (An early use of this process--and perhaps the first--was by two grooming brothers at Northstar Ski Area in California. Asked why they did it, the reply was "We just got tired of driving up and down the hills and wanted to do something different.")
Get into bumps before getting totally locked into mechanics of smooth slope skiing. Many changes of slope angles challenge our balance, resulting in positions that are usually too far back and too far inside and uphill. Proactive repositioning is a must. Positions are readjusted either by rocking the whole body forward or backward or--even better--moving the feet fore/aft for quicker results that involve moving less body mass. Ski on the "green" part of the mogul hill, the shallower-sloped parts of the bumps, in other words, and avoid the "black" slopes that may be on the backs or downhill sides of the bumps, which require greater skill. Although true in all skiing, now adjust the mental concept of your body's position in space. You are a torso (upper body including hips and, to a degree, arms) of stable mass that is moving down a slope, and you reach out your legs from it and retract them to it to redirect your path. Torso stability allows the legs and feet to move about underneath. If both upper and lower body are moving, it is hard to tell what will happen. Moguls are skied with similar moves as on groomed slopes, just with flex and extend matched to dictates of slopes so upper body stays at same level. Foot steering is important in moguls.
"How do you ski moguls?' is a common question of intermediate skiers. A good answer is, "Slowly!" Consistent round turns with enough skidding of skis to slow them with friction and keeping the turning forces going just long enough at the ends of the turns to manage speed are the tricks for this. It's even possible to run mogul turns over two or more bumps at once to get a better line; we don't have to turn around every bump. In this scenario, edging is not a key thing; after all, the edged or carved turn is designed not only to turn you but to maintain your speed or allow it to increase. Nevertheless, the skis will often be tipped up in moguls so they scrape more. Scraping, skidding turns are often quite useful, but still, they should be as round as possible, for skis that are turned too quickly may track across the groove beside a mogul making the skis very difficult to manage. Likewise, skis are usually kept parallel in moguls so they both are doing more nearly the same thing. Yet wedge- and stem-christies may be used by beginning mogul learners in smaller bumps on gentler hills upon first exposure to bumps.
Competitive mogul skiers have their own way of skiing "pro-bumps" and that is not recommended for recreational skiers. Pros position skis fairly flat to the snow, feet are held together, a pumping action of the eggs is utilized, and the knees are swung from side to side while swiveling the feet. It is extremely athletic and beyond the scope of this website.
There are some tips that may be helpful, however:
Learn to ski moguls in progressive steps, seeking out easier blue bump runs first. Avoid hard-snow or icy bumps for learning. Bumps with shallow fresh powder can be helpful in the learning stage, as the powder's resistance gives an automatic speed control. The same is true of slushy spring snow, when "slush-bumps" suck on the skis' bases, slowing them in a way that gives learners more time to make the moves they must. If you can, choose these conditions for your early bump training, and avoid icy times which might cause you to adopt a technique that is too defensive and inefficient, thus tiring.
Some ski areas groom only one side of a slope and leave the other side to bump up. This gives two options: One is to ski the bumpy side and when you want, exit to the groomed side. The other option is to seek the zone between the groomed side and the bumped side; here the bumps are slowly migrating toward the groomed side and have not grown much yet.
Have flexible ankles and knees. For these joints to flex, the boots must do so also. Some boots are so stiff they do not allow enough ankle flexion to ski moguls. Period! If this "shoe" fits, get different boots or forget any but the smallest moguls. Note that if the ankle cannot flex so the knee comes forward, we cannot tip the legs to the side and increase edging angles that way--and neither can we steer the foot because the leg is not in a strong position to do so. That is, the ankle must be bent somewhat to develop the power to strongly steer the foot. If the ankle is too straight, this force is much weaker. Try it indoors and see. Sit with your leg out straight, having another person hold your foot, then twist your foot and feel the resistance. Now, with your leg bent a bit, twist your foot again and you will be able to apply much more force against the resistance.
Use both extension moves on the tops of bumps and retraction ones depending on their size and your position as you pass along. There will also be times when you must extend your legs long into deeper troughs, for if you keep your skis on the snow they can perform for you turning and skidding. Occasionally, a little hop into the air will get skis around that otherwise would not turn sharply enough, however.
Anticipate your moves. Be assertive or even aggressive. Look ahead so you can have your move all ready active when you come to the spot it is needed. Move into the new turns as always, but realize that the move must be made much more positively as the slope angles change rapidly as you ski along, in order for you to stay in a balanced position on your skis and not end up pressuring just the tails.
Too, be sure to allow adequate weight to go to the downhill ski, which must have pressure, too. New bumpers often tilt too much to the uphill-ski side, with bad results.
Avoid turning too much. That may send you into the wall of the adjacent bump and a potential abrupt stop instead of continuing along a trough and over the next hump.
Touch or plant your poles for each turn. This will get you moving early. You can also touch it or plant it in different ways and different spots for effect. Some shout out :"Pole!" internally or externally to get a rhythm going. (See "Pole Usage" for more on this topic.) Keep moving, "MOVE!" may be most important part of bump skiing.
Use a roundish turn in bumps, but be ready to adjust its shape from Cs and Ss into Js when the bump shape dictates. Do this by adjusting amounts of foot steering, tilting, and pressuring as you ski.
Also see the section on Fear to help overcome the apprehension that tightens our bodies when first starting to ski moguls or when we venture into bumps that are more challenging to us.
Lines to ski in bumps: zipper, round turns, two-bump round turns, variable, pro-bump, hop-ski bumps
Perhaps an ideal bump line is one that minimizes the ups and downs of a bump field. Whatever the size of the bump field, the bumps mainly go up as much in feet as the hollows go down. Thus if you clipped off the tops of the bumps and filled the hollows with them, you would have an even surface. So now imagine again the original bump field with a line against the bumps where that even surface would be, and then try to ski that line.
You can use the uphill sides of bumps to help manage speed, as the slope gradient there is low or even reversed, but aim carefully so that when you go over the top you go into the shallower part of the trough on the back side and your skis may not be lined up to fit the groove well.
If you don't like a bump or a trough, you may be able to skip that route and move over to another path you like better. It's O.K. to shop for turns, but not for very long.
Moguls may appear on steep slopes; additional tactical choices for steeps are therefore found in Skiing Moguls.
Importance of inside foot steering and early advancement of new inside ski.
Importance of tipping torso down the hill and forward.
Importance of looking ahead instead of at bump you're on.
More to come:
Use of different turning methods (skidded, carved) for different purposes.
Manage range of body motion for effect on turns. More range when tighter turns or steeper hills.
A final word: Eventually, after selecting the tactic to apply, you must "Point the skis down the hill; let them buck; the mountain will teach you!"
Contents of "TACTICS FOR TERRAINS and SNOW
TEXTURES and RACING":
IS A SLIDING SPORT"--a skiing web manual: Skiing
Manual Contents Why Read
This Skiing Web Manual That First Skiing Lesson A
Little Skiing History
A Little Skiing History Motion
Conventional Skiing Wisdoms
Skier Excuses Fear
Conditioning for Skiing How Skis
Equipment and Technique
to Develop Balance on Skis
A Skiing Turn
Simplified The Final Skiing Skill:
pressure management TACTICS FOR TERRAINS and SNOW
TEXTURES and RACING
Skiing Tips and Tales--a potpourri
Exercises for Developing Skiing Skills
Children and Skiing Age and Skiing
Gender & Skiing
Culture & Skiing
Skiing Ethics and Slope Survival
Slope Safety Skiing
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