How to Ski Moguls: A Beginner’s Guide to Taking on New Terrain

Highly experienced and professional skiers make shredding a mogul run look easy and fun. With their skis tight and their movements sharp and springy, experts make it seem as if all it takes to ski moguls is a little athleticism and some confidence. The truth, though, is that if you are a novice to skiing, standing over a steep run of bumpy obstacles can send your stomach into knots. Even worse, one poorly timed turn can send you tumbling and bouncing down the mountain.

While moguls make for some of the most enjoyable runs on the mountain and create the opportunity to practice specific skills, there are a few things to consider before bombing down a challenging run. Safety is the priority on every ski mountain, and you should never overstep your skill level without some supervision. If you are preparing to do your first mogul run this weekend, take a couple minutes to consider these few bits of information and tips ahead of time.

What are moguls?

Moguls are undulating obstacles that can be found on certain groomed slopes. While they can be intentionally created by the ski area, they more commonly appear organically as skiers execute sharp turns down the slope. As skiers carve out a line, snow is displaced with every turn. As other skiers follow the same line, the moved snow takes shape and rises into a prominent bump called a mogul. Given that skiers weave through turns while sending a run, moguls tend to emerge in clusters.

Further, each mogul maintains a distinct uphill and downhill side, while their peaks are generally pretty flat. The space between each mogul that is formed by different runs from skiers is often a bit icy and is called the trough.

How to ski mogul runs

Look Before You Ski

Every mogul run is different. The size of the moguls, the depth of the troughs and the steepness of the slope are just a few variations. You need to analyze the run and decide how you want to approach it before heading down.

It’s a good idea to have a line envisioned before you begin skiing. Picking your line means deciding where you want to start, where you want to make each turn, and where you want to stop beforehand. If you think the run will be easy to handle, then pick a line that is one or two moguls in width, which will require faster turning. If the run looks like it will be tough, then only ski for a few turns at a time. Knowing where you want to go will make skiing the run easier, safer and a lot more fun.

clearly pick your line before skiing moguls


The image above shows one of the best ways to ski mogul runs. The keys to turning in mogul runs are absorption and power. When turning over and through moguls, you need to be able to lift your knees to absorb the shock of the bumps. Keeping your legs stiff will cause you to pop up in the air and can result in injury.

A good technique for absorbing moguls is to focus on keeping your head at the same level as you go down the run. If you watch the best skiers, their head seems to float down mogul runs while their knees bounce back and forth through the bumps. Although you want to absorb the moguls when moving over the bumps, you also need to be able to push off the side of moguls when you are in the troughs between them. This power is not as important on small moguls, but is essential when skiing bigger moguls. If you can’t push yourself around them, you’ll end up skiing straight down the mountain, hitting each mogul, and losing control.

Maintain balance

Mogul runs require rapid turning, and as a result, fast skiing. Keep your hands in front of you, stay in an athletic position, and use your poles tactically to execute sharp, timely turns. To keep your speed in check, try to pick trough lines that cross back and forth on the slope. Your lines will aim more directly down the mountain as you improve.

These ski tips can help you prepare to take on mogul runs, but make sure you take your time and use a coach or instructor when adjusting to the new terrain.

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