Why Good Speed Control Is Hard When You Ski Moguls

Most skiers find that good speed control is hard to achieve when they attempt to ski in mogul terrain. Have you experienced that and have you ever wondered why you tend to rocket out of control when skiing bumps?

We can help you understand why it is difficult to ski moguls with good speed control by taking a brief look at the recent history of skiing.
Skiing has its roots in racing and, over time, most of the “heroes” of the ski world have been racers (e.g. Stein Erickson, Phil Mahr, Hermann Maier, Alberto Tomba, Sarah Schleper, Bode Miller, Ted Ligety, Lindsey Vonn, etc.). These racing “heroes” have defined the standard for being “the best in the sport of skiing”.

Carving Began As A Technique To Ski Faster

In the early 1980’s the best F.I.S. World Cup ski racers discovered that they could go faster if they put their skis on edge and applied pressure to bend the ski. The net result was a ski that produced less friction because it had less lateral displacement. The metal edge of the ski bit into the snow and screamed in an arc down the hill like a train on railroad tracks. This technique had a name: carving.

Recreational skiers from all walks of life decided that they should learn to carve so they could emulate what the “best of breed” of the sport were doing. This proved to be a daunting task, however, because it took a lot of practice and a lot of strength to bend a ski the way the experts did.

The Arrival Of Shaped Skis Enabled Recreational Skies To Easily Carve

In the early 1990’s, however, the game changed. Ski manufacturers came up with a brilliant idea. They manufactured a new type of ski which was designed to bend easily when it came out of the factory. All a skier had to do was tip the ski on its edge and stand on the ski and the ski would easily flex and create an arc shape in the snow … just like what the racers could do.

This new type of ski had a name: a parabolic ski … or what we now refer to today as a shaped ski. The era of easy carving had arrived. Carving became the rage and everyone got on the bandwagon.

The ski industry found a new marketing concept with an exciting and fresh concept for skiers. It involved new equipment, new techniques and a new reason to take a ski lesson. Today, virtually all skis are shaped skis. Instructional articles on carving fill up the pages of ski magazines. Skiers show up at ski schools with the goal of carving better. Ski resorts spend millions of dollars preparing groomed runs.

Carving is viewed as an essential technique for most recreational skiers. Our skiing movement patterns are automatically grooved to seek high edge angles.

A Nation Of Carvers – And Groomed Run Skiers – Who Find It Hard To Ski Moguls And Powder

The net result, as documented by this history, is that we have become a nation of carvers. And, as a by-product, whether intended or not, a nation of groomed run skiers.

How did this happen? It should not be a mystery.

Remember, that carving originated as a racing technique … a technique to produce increased speed. But where do racers race?

Answer: on smooth, groomed race courses.

Could it be that carving is a technique most appropriate for groomed runs?

Could it be that the industry emphasis on carving since the early 90’s has produced a nation of carvers who ski well on groomed surfaces but run into trouble in the three-dimensional terrain found on mogul and powder runs?

Could it also be that skiers, using carving techniques on prepared runs are skiing faster … sometimes faster than may be appropriate for their skill level and their corresponding ability to control their speed?

Carving produces increased speed but increased speed is the opposite of what we are looking to achieve when we are skiing mogul and powder terrain.

And, that might be a good reason for skiers who don’t have lightning-fast reflexes to think about the advantages of learning a new approach and different technique to ski in mogul and powder terrain.

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