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How Are Ski Moguls Made? Everything You Need to Know

How are ski moguls made

Archeologists believe that humans began to ski 4000 years ago. 

It took thousands of years for skiing to evolve into what it is now. As a sport, it didn’t begin to take shape until the middle of the nineteenth century.

The first forms of freestyle competition arose in the early 1960s.  It wasn’t until 1992 that mogul skiing officially became an Olympic sport and began gaining popularity among the average skier. 

Nowadays, you can find moguls on every ski mountain and at almost every ski and snowboard competition. So, you may ask, if they are everywhere, How are ski moguls made? Keep reading for everything you need to know. 

How Are Ski Moguls Made Naturally

Moguls are being made by the skiers naturally on virtually all trails that are not flattened with grooming equipment.  They arise spontaneously as skiers move along a run and kick up snow behind them as they turn.  The snow they kicked-up forms into piles, which over time turns into moguls. 

The Beginning of the Process

Creating a natural mogul begins when skiers continue to follow the same line through the snow.

When the snow is fresh it gets pushed to the side of the turn, away from your skis. This creates a mound of snow on the periphery of the turn that continues to grow larger with each passing skier.

Your skis cause a snow build-up by cutting a trench into the snow that grows deeper as the path receives more traffic. 

As the snow continues to build, more people will ski around the higher snow which will, in turn, push more snow against the growing mound. 

While you are skiing along the trail, rather than following you down, the moguls are actually slowly migrating uphill. Moguls move 33 feet uphill, on average, during any given ski season. That’s shy of one inch per day! 

Mogul Fields

As fewer routes become available, skiers will choose to ski on the paths already created between the mounds.

While the trail gets more traffic from different skiers, the paths become linked together.  This repetition will create even more moguls. 

When the trail is wide enough to accommodate several different paths, the skiers have created a mogul field.  These fields rarely follow a particular pattern and take on different sizes and shapes depending on ski length, snow quality, and slope grade.  

How Are Moguls Man-Made

Mogul fields in freestyle competitions must be built to satisfy the International Ski Federation (FIS) specifications. These specs include course width, length, finish corral length, jump sizes, bump width, etc. The entire course needs to be measured and carried out to comply with these standards. 

Each resort has its own snowmakers and groomers who are in charge of making sure there is enough snow at the venue. If there isn’t enough on the mountain they will need to make snow

The snowmaking team then blows the extra snow onto the course and evens it out with a snowcat. The snowcat creates ridges in the snow that are later used to create mounds on the trail. 

After the course is sufficiently covered the snowcat operators shape the ridges into bumps. These bumps are then finished into moguls by using hand tools and skiing them into the right shape. 

How to Ski Moguls

Now that you know how moguls are made, it is important to learn the proper technique to successfully ski down a trail full of them.   

Beginner and intermediate skiers are often intimidated and scared at the thought of skiing moguls. This fear is usually due to the lack of proper equipment and knowledge. If you are interested in learning how to ski moguls, it is important to first find the right pair of skis.

With the right skis and a little instruction, you will be well on your way to becoming a pro. 

If you are feeling angst or anxiety about conquering a field of moguls the first thing you need to do is relax. Think about the moguls as being like a staircase that you need to walk down. 

Each mogul has a relatively smooth top that can be used as a step on a staircase. You can use these steps to “walk down” the hill with your skies on.  

Soft clumps of snow gather on top of each mogul which will help to slow you down and glide you into the next turn. As you turn make sure to stay on the crest of the moguls and avoid the trenches. Take your time. 

Practice makes perfect. If you need help, seek the advice of a ski instructor. Mastering this technique will not only make skiing moguls safer, easier, and faster it will also make it a lot more fun! 

Ski Moguls Are Here to Stay

Whether man-made or the natural kind, ski moguls aren’t going anywhere. You will find them at every mountain, from your small local ski area to the famous resorts of the French Alps. 

Mogul creation takes time and effort much like the natural erosion that occurs on the face of a mountainside. It brings diversity to the trails on the mountain and makes your skiing journey that much more challenging.

When asking the question ‘how are ski moguls made,’ it is essential to remember the effort that goes into each and every one. It can take days or even months to create an entire field. Your skies contribute to the process with every carved turn. 

For more information, tricks, and tips about skiing check out our blog.