What are moguls and slaloms in skiing?
Skiing can be a fantastic sport to get involved in and is especially rewarding as you improve. However, mastering its disciplines can be difficult, especially when it comes to slalom skiing and moguls. But what are moguls and what is slalom skiing? Continue reading our helpful guide to discover everything you need to know about slaloms and moguls.
What is moguls skiing?
Moguls are bumps that are found on ski slopes at downhill areas, where that area of the slope hasn’t been flattened. Moguls can be constructed by hand, but are typically formed naturally as skiers carve turns down a slope. During sharp turns, skis will carve snow out and push some away each time. As more skiers follow the same line, the snow accumulates to form a bump, and this is called a mogul.
Every mogul has an uphill side, a downhill side and a flat top, and the scraped-off icy area between each bump is called the trough.
Skis and courses
Some of the equipment needed to mogul ski includes helmets, goggles, ski poles and kneepads.
Courses used for moguls are extremely steep, have an average slope gradient of 26° and are between 200 and 270 metres in length. Each mogul on a slope is typically around 3.5m apart and can include small jumps for performing aerial manoeuvres.
During competitions, athletes ski down a mogul slope one or two at a time and are judged based on several factors, including time, speed, turns and aerial jumps. In Dual Mogul competitions the skiers compete against each other in elimination rounds, where the skier with the most points progresses. Mogul skiing is part of the Winter Olympics for both men and women, as well as at the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships. Indoor competitions are also held so getting in your practice at Chill Factore could see you compete one day!
How to ski on moguls
Professional skiers tend to make moguls look easy with their knees locked together, allowing them to speed down a course with ease. A beginner, or even just a part-time skier can find moguls quite daunting, but here are some tips to help you navigate your next moguls course better:
- Maintain balance - Always ensure that you keep your hands in front of you, stay limber and focus on your pole plants. Keeping your hands in front of you helps with weight distribution and keeps your body facing downhill. This will help to keep momentum as you approach your next bump. In terms of your pole plant, you’ll always want to plant the pole on top of the bump and make sure it gets there before you do.
- Choose an easy line - The simplest way of making your way down a moguls course is to make your turns on top of the bumps.
- Choose a fast line - During races, a faster course would be to navigate around the bumps rather than on top of them.
What is slalom skiing?
Slalom skiing is a type of alpine skiing that involves navigating through several poles that are called gates.
Ski lengths for slalom skiing varies among riders but the minimum length required is 165cm for men and 155cm for women. Other equipment used includes shin pads, hand and face guards, and helmets.
The objective in slalom skiing is to ski through the two poles that form a gate, with the feet and tip of both skis passing through the poles. Disqualification occurs when a rider misses too many gates, while the fastest person to ride through the course is the winner.
Slalom skiing is a medal event at both the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships and the Winter Olympics.
A slalom course consists of a series of alternating blue and red gates, and the number of gates used for men’s competition is between 55 and 75. For women, there are between 40 and 60, and the gates are set in different types of configurations to make the course more challenging.
On a men’s course, there is a vertical drop of between 180 to 220m, while a women’s course is slightly lower.
Slalom skiing tips
Slalom skiing is especially difficult if you’re trying to complete a course as fast as possible, but we have a couple of pointers to guide you in the right direction.
- Smooth turns - Try to avoid making sharp turns on your way down the course. Keep your turns as wide and as smooth as you can turning towards each gate. As a beginner, you’re not racing anybody (yet!) so just have fun and get used to making the turns.
- Work calves and thighs - Using your calves and thighs, dig your skis into the snow to carve smooth turning lines. For slalom skiing it’s important to start your curve as soon as possible and getting the angle with enough time and space lets you glide through the gate and swerve towards the next one smoothly. This helps to build momentum, allowing you to easily navigate the course.
- Plot your journey - Before heading down the slope, have a good look at the way down and plot a route. The last thing you want to be doing is winging it. At each pole and turn you should already be planning the next one, so it’s best practice to plan your journey down at the start.
Moguls and slaloms at Chill Factore
At Chill Factore, you can have a go at moguls skiing and have a taste of what the professionals do during competition. Our fully qualified instructors are on hand to give you tips and tricks to ease you into the moguls.
Have you seen the pros smashing through gates and poles on the television? Well, you can also try your hand at slalom skiing at Chill Factore.
Our Give It a Go Slalom challenges introduce you to the basics of slalom racing and run you through drills and exercises to make sure your technique is sharp and develop your confidence before you make your way through the poles and gates. Just like moguls, our qualified instructors will guide you through the process and teach you the technique required to master the slopes.