The 5280 Mountain Guide

November 2011

Getting Bumped

Why giving up the fight will make you a better moguls skier.

If you learned how to ski on the East Coast like I did, you learned to ski on groomed runs (in the morning) and on ice (in the afternoon). Fresh snow was rare; moguls were rarer. You could find some hard-packed bumps on the bigger hills, but most skiers ignored them. Hitting the slopes in Colorado, therefore, was like skiing on a different planet to me: Soft, pillowy moguls were around nearly every turn. Navigating them, though, was a struggle. I could handle a half dozen before I lost my line and stopped or—let’s be honest—crashed.

To rectify my poor bump skiing, I head up to Winter Park/Mary Jane after a big snowstorm (extra cushioning: yes, please). Chris Koch, the manager of the adult ski school, takes me out to assess my skills and spots the problem on the first run: I’m fighting the mountain—digging my edges in hard and shifting my entire weight—rather than finessing it. I’m constantly trying to catch up to the moguls instead of planning a line and sticking with it. Koch’s advice is laughably simple: “Turn your feet and legs, side to side,” he says.

To my surprise, it works—really well. The next run, my skis are like windshield wipers turning left-right-left-right, and I’m actually bouncing in a rhythm down the mogul field like I know what I’m doing. I can even (mostly) follow a line that I’ve chosen, readying myself for bumps that are 15 feet down the mountain. But the best outcome by far is that my legs aren’t shot after one run. By relinquishing the need for control and going with the flow of the moguls instead of fighting them, you save massive amounts of energy. Enough, in fact, for a few more bump runs on my own—trails I’d regularly bypassed till now—before the end of the day. —PD

Try It

Where: Winter Park Resort, winterparkresort.com

Cost: Varies with lift ticket. Private: $289 (two hours) to $539 (full day); or $579 for Bob’s Mogul Camp (January 27–29, February 8–10, or February 22–24)

Quick Tip: Leave the long planks at home; shorter skis allow sharper turns.

Also Try: Steamboat Ski & Resort, private: $470 (three hours) to $670 (seven hours), steamboat.com; Beaver Creek Resort, $131 (group, half) to $745 (private, full), beavercreek.com