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Mogul Skiing: Expert opinions requested (with varying backgrounds)

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
New to site, but wanted to get some mogul skiing advice for any experts willing to read/view some video's and provide their
feedback.  Appreciate anyone taking the time on this post.
 
My son (currently) 9 years old, is an all mountain skier.  Since age 5, he's been skiing steeps/bumps in places like Taos, NM.  He's got some race training (solid, but not best GS/Salom) skier.  Strength is steeps/steeps with bumps/steeps with trees, does well in chutes/powder/crud. Likes some jumping, but not into rails/boxes.  He has an aggressive style, with a wider stance, bigger angles, and aggressive outside ski carve.  This type of style has been a natural development for him to ski steep terrain in an aggressive, but controlled manner with safety as an ongoing concern.
 
His been to a couple summer Mt Hood camps with the moderate seeded steepness bump lines.  Working mostly on extension/absorption/basics in mogul jumps.  He's been pushing more to running a "zipper line" on those bumps.
 
Without any local training in our area in Moguls, we took him to his 1st mogul competition this year.  It was a steeper 34 degree course at top on some pretty slick old man-made snow on the top.  He only got a few practice runs in on some brand new recreation more flexible skis we picked up to be more forgiving in the tips (vs. his typically stiffer wood core all mt skis).
 
This is our 1st exposure to watching an almost entirely different type of mogul skiing form (a competitive polished form) from the kids getting coaching from some top-notch coaches.  Apparently, we didn't get the memo on competition form! :mad
 
He was given a few tips at the competition, but overall it seemed there was a desire to have him "stand tall" vs. his normal leaning down the mountain, lighten up on his outside ski carve, gets his legs glued together, and do more of a slip/slide/absorb/extend technique where it seems it's only the middle of the ski used for a small carve.  It also seems like the poles are planted in quick succession and then pulled back up high getting ready for the next absorption (on my small video camera viewfinder, it almost looked like a double pole plant - it wasn't though).
 
My questions:
 
a) We've tried to get him to change up his natural style to a more competitive style, but he is having trouble doing so.  It feels completely unnatural to stand tall and do the slip/slide, and unnatural to not to "attack" the hill using his poles.
Should I push him into that technique, just for the sake of better competitive mogul skiing? :duel:
 
 
b) Is it feasible to switch back and forth between 2 styles, or does one style get ingrained?
 
c) Is this competitive style really better/safer when it comes to skiing steep cutes/steep trees with variable lines/bumps and
difficult areas of crud?  To me it seems more dangerous to go with the competitive style in this terrain?
 
d) As there isn't mogul training currently in our area, is it really worth it to put lots of time/effort/money is to forcing him
to change his style?  I mean realistically, he's not going to the Olympics, and I wouldn't want him pushing himself to that level of inevitable knee injury.  Is it better to let him "dabble" in all areas (race/bumps/all mountain) so not to become, as seems common, a skier who becomes too discipline specific.  Although he enjoys competing.
 
Here's 3 videos to put the above into perspective from this season::popcorn
 
1)  Some local natural bumps (hard underneath) with some fresh on top.  Black run.  Slow motion and with his POV.
At the flat section, you see him think about putting/forcing  his legs together as I'd asked him to work on that on this run.
 
2) His 1st competitive mogul run (don't worry about 1st jump).  Carves too much for competition and couldn't carry enough speed into jump.
 http://youtu.be/lPe0Of4iY6w
 
3) Summer camp at Mt Hood.  Shows more of what's been worked on up to this point.
Thanks.
post #2 of 8

Hi there, and welcome to epicski.

 

Competitive bump skiing is a specialized discipline that also introduces skiers to skills they can use around the mountain. Personally, I think any training is good training. That said, while you could "dabble" in competitive bump skiing, if you don't invest in serious coaching, gear, travel, and on-snow time, he's unlikely to actually be a real competitor. 

 

Have you asked him what he wants to do? 

 

Quote:
a) We've tried to get him to change up his natural style to a more competitive style, but he is having trouble doing so.  It feels completely unnatural to stand tall and do the slip/slide, and unnatural to not to "attack" the hill using his poles.
Should I push him into that technique, just for the sake of better competitive mogul skiing?

 

No, but not for the reason you're thinking. Without a ski-specific coaching/instruction background, you're unlikely to know what you're recommending. (For example, your idea of standing tall strikes me as a misinterpretation of the coaches' suggestion - bump skiers don't stand tall.) Also, while this may not apply to you, most parents are terrible at coaching their kids.

 

My recommendation is to leave the coaching to the coaches, and have fun skiing together.

 

If you're intent on being his personal coach, I urge you to get some high level ski coaching certifications--otherwise you're seriously likely to upset everyone involved.

 

Quote:
 b) Is it feasible to switch back and forth between 2 styles, or does one style get ingrained?

 

Skiing skills are the same regardless of "style". The blending is simply different, and you use different tactics in different skiing disciplines. Competitive bump skiers are generally at least decent at carving/racing, and vice-versa. (By decent, I mean well above the ability of a recreational skier.)

 

Quote:
 
c) Is this competitive style really better/safer when it comes to skiing steep cutes/steep trees with variable lines/bumps and
difficult areas of crud?  To me it seems more dangerous to go with the competitive style in this terrain?

 

The better you become at skiing the zipperline, the steeper the terrain and the bigger the bumps you can generally take it into. But a good zipperline skier can apply those same skills to ski different lines. There's also no requirement that you ski in a zipperline in non-competitive situations. Same skills, just different tactics.

 

Quote:
d) As there isn't mogul training currently in our area, is it really worth it to put lots of time/effort/money is to forcing him
to change his style?  I mean realistically, he's not going to the Olympics, and I wouldn't want him pushing himself to that level of inevitable knee injury.  Is it better to let him "dabble" in all areas (race/bumps/all mountain) so not to become, as seems common, a skier who becomes too discipline specific.  Although he enjoys competing.

 

I'm confused by your wording. Any skill improvement requires adapting technique/"style". So yes, if he wants to get better, his "style" will need to change whether he wants to become a better zipperline skier, racer, freestyle skier, or anything.

post #3 of 8

Welcome to Epic kwc!

 

It's cool to see a parent put so much work into this.

 

Should I push him into that technique, just for the sake of better competitive mogul skiing? 

If he wants to compete - yes. Should you push him? No! He's old enough to make his own decision. You can help him. Watch some competitive video at mogulskiing.net. Talk about the differences between his skiing and the competitive runs. Watch this mogul skiing clip. Can you see some of the same elements of Owen's skiing in this clip?

 

b) Is it feasible to switch back and forth between 2 styles, or does one style get ingrained?
They are certainly mogul skiers who ski predominantly in one style. At the top level of PSIA instructor certification, instructors are expected to master multiple styles of mogul skiing. In the youtube clip above you can see several skiers mix and match styles. Style is a choice. Jay Leno gets dinged for rocking denim too much. John Daly is earning some coin from overdoing the 70's style. Style does not have to become ingrained.
 
c) Is this competitive style really better/safer when it comes to skiing steep cutes/steep trees with variable lines/bumps and
difficult areas of crud?  To me it seems more dangerous to go with the competitive style in this terrain?
Of course it is more dangerous. It's faster. I have a theory of mogul skiing that like a heavy truck going down a long steep hill, riding the brakes wears the equipment out and is dangerous. The theory is that in mogul skiing, the less you ride the brakes, the less wear and tear you expose your body to. The quick and large range of movements look a lot worse on the body than they actually are.
 
d)  is it really worth it to put lots of time/effort/money is to forcing him
to change his style?  
 
For competitions, absolutely. For his growth as a free skier - yes. Will it take time and effort? Sure. But it does not need to take a lot of $$$ (other than lift tickets and gear).
 
 

What I see in Owen's skiing is great training on using turns to control speed. What I don't see a lot of in his skiing is using knee absorption to control speed.  I don't see a problem with a "small" stance per se in Owen's skiing. What I see is that when Owen gets in trouble, he gets absorption from bending at the waist. That's where the tall stance comment is coming from. Teaching Owen to be able to use more absorption in his knees will give him many more options in his bump skiing whether he continues in comps or not. 

 

At this age, Owen can see (learn) a lot just by watching (sorry Yogi). Even though there aren't any organized camps (yet) in the Taos/Santa Fe area, both resorts should have at least a few PSIA level 3 instructors who can help Owen take his bump skiing to the next level, competitive style or not. Although there may not be enough critical mass to support a competitive bump development program in your area, it's parents like you who get these things started to break through the catch 22 of nobody being interested because they don't exist. Sometimes it can only take 3-4 kids to start a "program".

 

Here's a great idea for a summer training program for Owen: Jonny Moseley dryland training

See the difference?

post #4 of 8

Here is my perspective- I'm a New England skier, been skiing for about 30 years, and I've been an instructor for 11. I have spent a lot of time perfecting my bump techniques. Yes, multiple techniques. Zipperline, pivot slip, shaping turns, airing over moguls, GS turns through moguls, the whole lot. I've entered some open mogul competitions, did okay in them even though it was never my sole focus.

 

My take is that learning competitive, zipper line mogul technique is beneficial to a skier's overall ability. It is definitely a tool worth having in one's bag, and it's one that fewer and fewer people have anymore. However, it isn't the only tool one should have in their bag, and it is something that has a very specific application. In competition, bumps are seeded and shaped to be regular and the line is straight down the fall line. That's the situation where a competitive style works best. In irregular, skier shaped bumps and crud, different technique works better. Does a skier have to choose one technique and stick with it for their entire skiing lives? Heck no, not even close. I'll use all the techniques I listed above in the same 100 vertical feet of bump line sometimes. Just depends on what the bumps look  and feel like, and what I want to do with it.

 

Something else to keep in mind, zipperline, competitive style bump skiing is anachronistic. It comes from the time of straight, skinny skis, where the best way to ski bumps was to smash your way from one trough to the next. With shorter, wider, shaped, and rockered skis, the options for skiing bumps have broadened greatly. There's no benefit in limiting your son to one way when lots of ways exist.

 

In short, there's no reason to force your son into anything. Let him develop all of his skills, not just a highly specific one.

post #5 of 8

Thumbs Up

 

You've already given him way more support than my parents gave me when I was learning and competing some.  I've skied Pajarito once in the past, it's actually much better than my home hill was and some USSA national champions came out of my little home hill.  The difference was, of course, that we had a Freestyle Team with coaches every year I was growing up there.  Your kid's only getting occasional ski camp coaching correct?  Regardless, he can parlay the fundamentals he's been told, but not yet mastered in to some pretty good skills if he just keeps skiing, and skiing a LOT!  He's only 9 years old, cut him some slack.  If you keep him skiing more than 50 days a year with occasional bump camps he'll catch up and be competing with the better kids by age 12. 

 

I think you may be trying too hard for someone that doesn't have a local freestyle team.  If you really want to do EVERYTHING you can short of moving to Squaw find the best bump skiing instructor at Pajarito and book them for lessons 4-5 sessions a week for most of each season.  Other than that, just keep being a great dad and let him ski and learn best he can as often as possible.  And keep going to the meets.  They are a blast even if you never win anything.

 

Edit, also get him some pants with different colored patches over the knees or stitch some light knee pads on his pants.  Judges can better see the alignment and motions that way, and it is (or was?) the norm for many competitors.


Edited by crgildart - 4/28/14 at 1:42pm
post #6 of 8

not sure what you mean by getting some input from the experts..... but here's my input so take it for what's its worth.

 

First, the freestyle coaches who have been doing for a while know what they are saying. They have to stay on top of what the judges are looking for, so if they are saying to ski tall, its because the judges are indirectly saying this by means of the turn scores. 

 

Second, imo, the techniques in competitive mogul skiing is different, it may draw from the same skills but the emphasis of movements are still different from other alpine disciplines.

 

Third, seeing how your son skis, imo, he's following progression of kids his age. Somewhere in the mid teens, most will link it together and start blowing the field away, and that's for the kids who are training with their local teams and doing the summer camps things. The more he is away from a freestyle team, the more it puts him in the disadvantage side. 

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

Appreciate the great feedback from everyone.

 

I do remember he's just 9, but I think the decision on looking at putting more time/energy on competitive bumps is difficult because alpine racing is pretty much the sole discipline in this area (we have great coaches for that).

 

We're coming up on making the summer decision for him to go to another camp.  But those things are not cheap ($2K/week with travel), and the only competitions in our area involve about 350 miles driving.  Gets expensive when there's no local training available, at least at present (there's now 1 other kid interested).

 

At the competition he did try (actually 2), those kids practice on bump specific training more in 1 week than he gets in an entire season.  Only adds to the dilemma, on is it worth putting the time/expense for the competitive aspect.  I always get concerned that it won't be fun if there's little reward in actually winning on occasion.  Takes extra effort to push oneself when you aren't the kid getting medals in a sport (see racing kids that seem to lose motivation), although there was the comment that someone felt just competing in itself was a blast.  I'll stress to him to keep his situation in context for his performance. (Kinda like the Jamaican bob sled team).

 

I wish I had some skills to train him, but my days skiing moguls were 20 yrs ago in long straight skis, I sucked,  and I now snowboard for various reasons, including knee injuries.  So hardly trying to train my son personally how to ski bumps!

 

When he asks how he looked, I usually just respond, "looked awesome!"   I'll we can ask him to do is try to focus on a specific tip a coach told him and do his best to try to keep that in mind on a bump run.  Even the advice given above about trying to absorb more at knees vs. waist is an extremely helpful tip (in regards to standing tall).

 

Appreciate the feedback on the aspect on concerning what was likely being conveyed to him, and I'm personally trying to read/watch/learn as much as I can from the forum posts/videoposts people put up on this site, you tube, etc.

 

After posting my intial thread, I ironically did ask him as someone suggested, about what his desire is in regards to formal skiing.  Says less race training, more bumps with the desire to get good enough to compete.  He says he's willing to work on learning a more of a competitive form, but with the understanding he's allowed to turn it off for the steeps.  (So now do I have to buy ANOTHER discipline specific pair of Hart skis .. . .)  We'll of course have to keep costs reasonable.

 

Of course  all this mogul training takes a back seat to skiing as many different mountains as we can together before he goes to college (he's up to 26), skiing the steeps, and powder.  :drool

 

Maybe in his situation and this forum, we can try an experiment in "on-line" training with video posts of him and mogul skiers on this site giving him on-line feedback through the season?  Seems better than getting no feedback all season . . .

post #8 of 8
IMHO, he's 9. Even USSA is recommending 1 pair of skis for all at this age... The most important thing is to learn well, learn broadly, and HAVE FUN!

( I could imagine 2 pair of skis max. A carver and a little wider all mountain ski, but even then...)
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