Mountainwatch | Don St Pierre – Former USA Freestyle Ski Team Head Coach
During the early part of the season when we’re all hanging for mid winter conditions including some big soft moguls it’s a good time to work on a few skills that will help tune us up for when the bumps take shape.
Take advantage of the early morning groomers to work on stance, body alignment, vision, balance, timing, edge pressure and agility. Be sure to warm up/stretch gradually, taking a few runs to get a feel for the snow. You skis should be freshly waxed with sharp edges to allow the skis to perform.
Turns to find your rhythm
Once you’ve established some blood flow work on linking some medium radius turns keeping your shoulders up, hands in front and your eyes down the hill. Vision should be focused down the hill about two to four turns ahead occasionally scanning further down the hill to anticipate any changing conditions, terrain or obstacles. Within these smooth arching medium radius turns try to feel the different phases of turning such as preparation, initiation, weighting/steering and completion.
Your body position for mogul skiing needs to be stacked vertically, feet, knees, hips and upper body need to be in alignment. Once in the bumps there’s no time for banking and leaning into the turns.
Link the turns together in a consistent rhythm regardless of the varying conditions or terrain. This will improve your timing along with keeping you honest and controlled. Finding the perfect turn is one of the most elusive things you’ll ever try to do on skis so don’t get overly caught up in the drills, they’re only there to give you an aim and focus.
A drill or two
After a run of medium radius turns it’s time to bring in some variety. Continue the medium radius turns but now perform three with feet shoulder width apart and three with your feet together. This will help you work your legs independently yet simultaneously, rolling the knees from turn to turn. Once in the bumps it’s critical to be comfortable with a narrow stance. The troughs and ruts are narrow and having your feet together allows you to be quick and agile.
Now we’re ready for some rhythm and timing drills. While maintaining a mogul position with your feet, hips and body in vertical alignment, hands relaxed and in front of the body using only your wrists to advance the pole plant, work into short radius turns with three quick turns and three to four longer turns. This will work your speed with getting on and off the edges quickly.