|Hello Harald and everyone:
Just stumbled upon this thread about my book and thought I’d jump into the discussion. Hope you don’t mind. As to “who this guy is,” I am…
• A former USSA and NorAm mogul competitor. (Competed against Nelson Carmichael a couple of times: ’86 and ’87 Freestyle National Championships.)
• A 40-year-old mogul instructor (Cannon Mtn, NH) and coach (Waterville Valley, NH, BBTS Freestyle Team), and professional free-lance writer.
• A SKI Magazine Top-100 instructor (November, 2005; Bumps category)
• Author of the book Everything the Instructors Never Told You about Mogul Skiing. (Among the 1,000 or so skiing-related books on Amazon.com, mine is presently ranked # 5 in sales (do an Amazon book word search on “skiing,” then rearrange the list by “bestselling”). The only skiing-related books presently outselling mine on Amazon are those written by Elling, Nelson, LeMaster and Parker. Far from finding my ideas “absurd” or “a waste of time” or “ridiculous,” my readers are having breakthrough experiences in the moguls and praising the book as well-written and a definitive guide to mogul skiing. People have also praised the photos and illustrations as “spot-on.” My little book has a perfect 5-star Amazon rating, which bests plenty of glossy, big-budget publications out there.)
I think a few of the major mogul-skiing myths are being tossed around in this thread, and I’d like to respectfully disabuse you of these ideas.
Firstly, straight-ahead, fall-line mogul skiing is not just for young daredevils. I’ve successfully taught competition-style techniques to average, advanced skiers as young as 10 and as old as 65. No, not every good skier is cut out for skiing the zipper line quickly on a steep, icy mogul field, but most advanced skiers can learn to ski the zipper line, if they’re taught the right techniques, at low speeds, on gentle moguls. And my ski-school experiences have taught me that this is the sort of skiing people have in mind when they step up to the ski school desk and say “I want to learn to ski moguls.”
Secondly, these fall-line mogul skiing techniques, when executed properly, are not punishing on the body; good mogul skiers, more than anyone else, know how to smooth out the ride with dramatic absorption and extension. Good mogul skiers do not "slide and slam." (Harold, this is why your Scotty Brooksbank is still able to ski the moguls in his 50s, and I’m still able to do it at 40.) Their techniques are the least punishing on the body, and the most efficient (requiring the least energy).
Separate from these common myths, I see some misinterpretations of my writing here. I don’t say, for example, that mogul skiers only rotate their skis and don’t effectively use their edges. I say they rotate more than one does while carving on groomed terrain. There are other misinterpretations here, too many for me to address. I hope you’ll all just be careful to read the book closely and not misquote or misrepresent my ideas.
A few other ideas about my teaching:
Mogul skiing is a World Cup and Olympic sport. The FIS, the international Olympic community, the USSA, countless other national ski organizations, and mogul competitors of all ages all over the world all share a definition of “mogul skiing” and that definition includes moving the torso straight down the hill. Even young, novice competitors of eight, nine and ten years old – in the U.S., in France, in Canada, in Japan, etc – are trained, right from the start, to ski the zipper line, because this is what mogul skiing is.
When you use the right techniques in the right proportions, this discipline is not hard for the average advanced skier to grasp. However, because the average advanced skier has had little exposure to effective mogul coaching, he/she tends not to use or emphasize the right techniques in the moguls and mogul skiing has come to seem difficult and dangerous to many. A frightening stigma has been built up around the “zipper line.” On the right terrain, however, at low speeds, mogul skiing is fun and safe and very doable for the average advanced skier.
In all my years of instructing through a traditional ski school, and those years include both full-time and part-time seasons, I always taught fall-line mogul skiing. I never once had a student tell me that he or she was disappointed with the “style of mogul skiing” I was teaching them. My students’ typical response was: “Ah, so this is how you guys do it!” I had great success teaching mogul skiing. My students got it and loved it.
My colleagues, on the other hand, would teach a wider stance and rounder turns in the bumps, as if they were skiing on a groomed trail. Some students wanted to learn this sort of skiing (I call it “mogul survival”). But my colleagues would always have a few disappointed students who would respond to the lesson with comments like: “this is all well and good, but I want to ski like the bump skiers.” My colleagues would typically reply: “Well, you’re not ready for that just yet.” But these students were ready for it.
I started this coaching season with a shy, ten-year-old power-wedger among my novice competitors. By the spring, he was ripping the zipper line with a tight, neat stance and dramatic absorption and extension. I didn’t redefine the sport for this little guy. I didn’t fudge the technique and say, “well, you should make big, gentle, round turns through the bumps and zigzag back and forth across the mogul field.” I just eased him into the sport gradually and with the right methods. And if he can learn it, so can capable adults. Again, I’ve taught this stuff to people in their 60s.
People who want to learn fall-line mogul skiing, which mogul skiers call, simply, “mogul skiing,” have found my book useful. People who want to learn to loop round turns through the bumps, which I call “mogul survival,” have many learning options, including traditional ski schools all over the country. I’ve found, though, that the folks who step up to the ski school desk and ask for a mogul skiing lesson are never disappointed with my definition of mogul skiing. (And it’s not my definition; it’s the definition used by all mogul skiers.)
In the end, I don’t care how people ski moguls. Do it backwards on barrel stays, for all I care. Or, if all you want to do is get down the mogul trail, survive the mogul trail, do it however you please. And I don’t care what ski schools teach. But I do care about ski schools changing the definition of “mogul skiing” to suit their inclinations and biases. The phrase “mogul skiing” means something… it means something to mogul skiers all over the world.
I’m receiving lots of positive responses to the book, and believe it is striking a chord with the downhill skiing masses. I take this as an indication that my ideas are at least somewhat well grounded in fact… in what’s really, actually going on out there in the mainstream skiing world.
Finally, I’d like to leave you all with a couple of questions:
1. Is it really so crazy to look for mogul skiing methods in the skiing of the world’s best mogul skiers?
2. Isn’t it a little less logical to talk about how your mogul skiing improves after race training?
Thanks to those of you who've given my book a try and found it useful! And thanks for letting me join in the conversation!
Everything the Instructors never Told You about Mogul Skiing
A how-to book by Dan DiPiro