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Moguls are mounds of snow that form on ski slopes that are not regularly groomed or piste bashed. When viewed from a distance a mogul field will resemble a sheet of bubble wrap.

Moguls or bumps as they can be known are the result of lots of skiers skiing the same line or slope. Skiers push snow out and away from them as they turn. This starts to create moguls in two ways. Firstly you start to create a trough in the snow that you skied over. Secondly, the snow that you pushed sideways out of that trough starts to accumulate and form a bump.

As you link turns from side to side this creates a pattern of trough, bump, trough, bump.

Most other skiers tend to then take the path of least resistance and follow the patterns laid out before them. Turning in the trough and avoiding the bump or mogul. As time goes on the troughs get deeper and the bumps get higher.

The more you skid a turn and slide your skis sideways to control your speed the more snow is pushed from the trough into the bump, compounding the effect. This is why moguls or bumps form quickly on steep slopes or in areas where skiers feel the need to control their speed.

Similarly, fresh snow or soft snow is easier for skiers to push around the mountain than firm hard pack snow or ice. This is why you often see mogul fields form quickly on powder days or in the spring months.

On all pistes, small moguls will start to form during each day, which is why conditions can be more challenging in the afternoon. However, most pistes are groomed or piste bashed each evening preventing the moguls from forming.

Some runs are deliberately not piste bashed and mogul fields are allowed to form. Skiing moguls can be challenging and scary but once you have it nailed it is an incredibly rewarding skill.

Do moguls Form naturally?

No, moguls are either formed as a result of lots of skiers skiing the same terrain and following a similar movement pattern.

If no one skied the slope if it was left alone completely no moguls would form.

Should I learn to Ski Moguls?

Yes without any shadow of a doubt. Learning to ski moguls will help with every aspect of your skiing from Short Turns and pole plants to line choice and body control in the air.

Competition Mogul Skiing has bought us some of the most inspiring skiers of the last 30 Years. Glen Plake who shot to fame in the amazing Ski Movie the Blizzard of Ahhs started his career in Mogul Skiing. If you have not seen a Blizzard of Ahhs, it is an absolute must-watch that will make you want to get out and ski moguls in the vain hope that one day you will be even half as good as most skiers in that movie.

Other Ski Legends such as Seth Morrison and Shane McConkey also used to ski moguls. Shane competed and won on the US circuit in the 1990’s and Seth used to use mogul skiing to train for slalom.

Many people will avoid a mogul field because it requires more effort, but just a little time with a ski instructor will help you understand the technique and tactics you need to develop and after those first couple of bumps you will be hooked.

Competition Mogul Skiing

For Elite Level mogul skiers and events such as the Olympics, the mogul field needs to be made to exacting specifications. The moguls are spaced 3.5 metres apart and are made using Pistebashers and then hand-finished with shovels.

Mogul Skiing is one of the most demanding disciplines in the sport. Athletes must ski a course on a slope of around 28 degrees, and approximately 235m long under timed conditions. As if that was not challenging enough there are jumps at the top and bottom of the course over which the athlete must perform tricks.

Scoring is 60 per cent based on mogul turn technique, 20 per cent on speed, and 20 per cent on the quality of the jumps.

The Boss de Bosses

Mogul Skiing is so widely accepted to be one of the most difficult techniques to master that it has even been used to settle local rivalries over which Ski Resort has the best skiers.

Before the start of the 1989 ski season, an argument began after a few beers late one night in a Bar in Val d’Isere. The patrons could not agree on which ski resort had the best Skiers, Chamonix or Val d’Isere.

As with anything that involves lots of beer it was decided that the only way to settle the argument was a competition. The following March the two stations would meet to settle the disagreement once and for all.

On the 3rd Thursday of March in 1990, Val d’Isere brought their team to Chamonix and the first Boss des Bosses was held at the Grands Montets. The Val d’Isere team was a mono skier short and the result was tied, 9 all.

The following week Chamonix set out for the Away Match and won the day, 14-5 at the HOP course in Val.

Of course, this did nothing to settle the argument, once and for all; so it went on…

Over the year the challenge was extended to more resorts that hosted bumps competitions; Verbier (“Mogul Mania”), Zermatt (“The Trifty Bump Bash”) and Meribel “The Shaker”.

One by one, bringing together the mogul skiers of Europe’s top resorts, the legend that is the BOSS DES BOSSES was born.


Skiing moguls

The technique and tactics of skiing moguls need an entire article all of their own. We will be releasing one in the next few weeks so watch this space.

If we’ve inspired you to learn how to ski moguls, we have found that Chill Factore in Manchester has specialised mogul sessions for you to practice on. If you’re on the real mountain and need some guidance, feel free to get in touch to book a private lesson or join one our technical clinics sessions. 

We hope that next time you see a mogul field rather than checking the piste map to see if there is a way around it your will dive straight in, wake up those legs and have some fun.