March/spring 2005   
Looking down the hill, sure, but where? and how far ahead?....


some questions
about bumps...

In this new section of my web site, I answer the most interesting email questions that I receive every month. Here is a recent one:

"Lito, I have a few questions I'd like you to consider....

Where should I be looking when I'm skiing? How far in front of my skis? When skiing the bumps, how many bumps ahead should I give my attention to?

I'd love you to give some attention to how to ski the East Coast  bumps, where ice often dominates the flanks of each bump, and where sometimes you're lucky to find snow even in the gulleys. 

I'm having a terribly difficult time keeping my skis together in the bumps with the icy flanks, even if I avoid carving and try to slip my turns. After a pivot near the mogul top, the first ski down the front side flies ahead, separates from the uphill ski, and turns me into an instant intermediate, despite how hard I work to keep the skis together. And if I hesitate my turns from the top of the bump and head down the fall line to make my turn in the gully, I crash so hard at the bottom of the gulley that it throws me totally off balance and out of control.  Meanwhile, I see so many East Coast bump-mavens snaking down with what seems like minimal effort.

I don't get it.

Ron from Long Island,

Thanks for your email, Ron. You are actually asking a number of questions, but I sense that they all relate to bumps. The challenge, the excitment, and the frustration of mogul skiing. Let me tackle seprate aspects of these questions one at a time.

First, looking down the hill? How far? Where? When? Although it seems as though skilled mogul skiers are looking way ahead (because they seldom run into dead-ends where their line through the bumps just stops, in reality, I believe that most good bump skiers are only looking one or two bumps ahead — not way down the slope. But they are fiocused on a specific part of each bump: the exit or transition zone that will take them on to the next bump below. Starting your bump turns just isn't very hard, given the lack of friction on the top or crest of a bump. Even when bump turns look hard, skiers always manage to "get around" and often they find themselves turning too soon, too hard, too fast.

It is the most counter-intuitive thing in the world but basically once you have started a mogul turn, just let it go. (In your email you mention a pivot near the mogul top — I'll bet you are over-pivoting.) Instead, allow your skis to follow the terrain, don't force them around. And that brings us to your second related question: How to deal with what you call "East-Coast bumps," bumps that seem made of ice more than snow.

Well, icy bumps are a definitely bugaboo, for just about everyone, so at least you are not alone. But the icier the bumps are, the faster one will tend to pivot around them. And your real task, as strange as this sounds, is to try to turn or arc around the bump as slowly as you can. Take up all the space the bump offers you for turning — and then some. If there is any snow to be found, it will often be a pillow of scrapped away snow pushed below this icy bump, onto the start of the next one. By slowing down your bump turns as much as you can, you are going to try to finish or at leat end one turn on the upslope of the next bump below, letting the counterslope of this new bump slow your speedt.

Easier said than done, you are probably thinking. My recommedation is to look for the gentlest, lowest-angle, icy bumps that you can find, and practice this slow-start/delayed finish pattern where it isn't so scary, where you won't pick up so much speed. And by the way, this should help you keep your skis together in those icy bumps too. Almost certainly they come apart because you are twisting and pivoting your outside ski too hard. Cool it. I'm sure you will feel the difference.

Hope these ideas help, Ron. Enjoy those spring bumps. But try to notch up the challenge level slowly, a bit at a time.     Lito

 March/spring 2005 
Bump photo at top of page ©Linde Waidhofer


I try to answer all emails personally, as soon as I get them. But if I am traveling, it may take a couple of weeks, so please be patient.

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© Lito Tejada-Flores unless otherwise credited.