Mogul skiing or freestyle skiing is a well-known sport that has found its way into the prestigious Olympic winter sports lineup.
Popularly taken up by the most ardent and experienced skiers, mogul skiing is famous for requiring a lot of practice and instinct that is hard to master.
So if you are new to mogul skiing and are interested in taking up the sport this season, this article will walk you through the essentials of what moguls are, how are moguls made, and why skiers like them and why they make skiing harder, so that you won’t be completely lost when you hit the slopes.
What are Moguls?
Moguls are mounds that are created either artificially, or naturally (most of the time) on ski slopes when skiers take sharp turns and pile snow on one side. As these snow mounds increase in size, a very noticeable valley appears between them, which is called the trough.
This is where the skier’s path is and is often quite icy (since the snow is removed and has accumulated on the sides). Read our guide to skiing on ice here.
If they are created artificially, it is done so by the ski area as a separate attraction for freestyle skiers or for competitions such as the Olympics. This particular sport of skiing on moguls is taken up mainly by professionals since it often requires a certain level of proficiency.
What Does The Mogul Ski Course Look Like?
It has to be noted that the ski plane for freestyle skiing or mogul skiing is much steeper than the average skiing slope since the creation of mounds calls for sharp turns that are possible on obviously steep ground.
An average mogul ski course will go on for 200-270 m and will have a slope gradient of around 26 degrees.
A properly created set of mounds will have around 3.5m between them, which will provide ample space for you to perform all kinds of technically demanding movements.
How Are Moguls Made Naturally?
Moguls start to form when skiers end up taking the very same path through the slope. As you ski down a fresh slope, your translate will inevitably push snow to a certain direction, and as more skiers follow down the same route, more and more snow is being pushed into the same location, creating a mound.
And as the slope receives more and more ski traffic, the paths skiers take will end up connecting with each other. And as the paths that are carved into the slope get deeper, the mounds end up increasing in size.
Also read our guide on craving vs parallel skiing.
This will eventually lead to the extraordinary creation of the ‘mogul field’ or ‘course’.
How Are Moguls Man-Made?
The artificial process of creating moguls is much more complicated and requires adherence to certain regulations because artificially created moguls are mainly for competitions and events, they are subjected to strict supervision.
The International Ski Federation (ISF), pays special attention to specifications which include the width of the course, the width of the path, jump size, length of the course, finish corral length, etc to maintain a fixed standard.
Moguls are made by spraying snow onto the course, and employing snowcats to even it out and subsequently carve ridges onto it. These ridges will serve as the base of the mounds.
During the next step, the snowcats shape these ridges into bumps which are further refined and transformed into moguls afterward by the snow makers and groomers. This process is known as grooming.
Why Do Skiers Like Moguls?
Skiing moguls helps massively with creating great form in skiers. It tends to provide a lot of skill in technique as well, which is applicable to all other forms of skiing as well.
Mogul courses are also known by veteran skiers as inducing discipline and confidence to those engaging in the sport (especially since you have to painstakingly create and stick to your path down the mogul course), and its prominent presence in the Olympic games further solidifies this idea.
Also read our guide on why skiers like freeride skiing here.
Are Moguls Hard To Ski?
It has to be accepted, moguls are some of the TOUGHEST terrains to master in the sport. The difficulty particularly comes from the fact that no two moguls are the same, and the specific method of moving past the mound has to be calculated and executed at the VERY same time.
And this calls for a well oiled connection between one’s mental processes and physical execution.
But do not let this discourage you from trying out this interesting sport. You can always start small, especially with the small and medium sized moguls, and once you are comfortable with it, move to the bigger ones that require more masterful maneuvering..
You can always start at the beginning, and there is always a strong online presence of avid enthusiastic skiers as well, who will help you out with any and all queries.
Moguls are made naturally by skiers repeatedly skiing over the same spot. It’s a slow process but over time, these moguls can be hard to ski.
Moguls can also be man-made by using specialized equipment to shape the snow and control the location of the moguls which allows the resort to create a more challenging and diverse ski experience.
Ski moguls, be it man-made or natural, are a staple on every mountain and you will come across these on every ski resort.