Originally Posted by Dan DiPiro
MOGUL MYTH 2
I’d like to point to a second myth that I see cropping up in this thread: this notion that mogul skiing is especially bad for the knees and back. When mogul skiing is done well, it is no more bad for the knees and back than taking a jog on a paved road. It is bad mogul technique that is bad for the knees and back. With proper absorption and extension, and proper upper-body posture, you all but remove the jarring effects of the sport.
I’m 40 and I’ve been skiing bumps for more than 30 years. I’ve had no serious knee or back injuries, and a recent X-Ray of my knees revealed big, healthy spaces between my leg bones (nice, thick, solid layers of cartilage). Alpine racers have just as many knee blow-outs as mogul skiers. I’ve even heard of one orthopedist near my area who says she sees more knee problems in alpine racers than in mogul skiers. She believes mogul skiing actually conditions the knee for greater lateral stability.
This notion that good mogul skiers all end up limping through middle and old age is, you need to understand, a bunch of bologna. The friend with whom I started competing in moguls years ago is 44 today and he’s an excellent windsurfer, water skier and – get this – a masters racer! He won the masters slalom race in December at Killington this season, which speaks not only to the health of his knees and back, but also to the fact that mogul skiers are often good all-around skiers.
Other old bumpers I know are still skiing bumps, and they’re enjoying all sorts of sports; they are active athletic people, as free of injuries as any other active, athletic people I know.
I agree. I don't believe that bumps are necessarily that hard on the knees and back when skied smoothly, with lots of A&E. Impact happens when the skier is not absorbing sufficiently, gets thrown around, and loses contact with the ground. Sitting back creates knee problems. The quad is a big muscle; add the response of a strong muscle carrying your weight to a little impact, the tendons at the knee will suffer.
I've skied bumps for quite a while, though not as long as Dan. I'm ten (or more) years older than he is. My knees, while very occasionally sore (sometimes in late April after ski season - withdrawal or something), are still healthy. I broke my back several years ago (not skiing), and my back hurts a lot when I'm just standing around. It hurts very little when skiing bumps.
Although I would not suggest that straight down the zipper line is required, I do believe that an accurate stance with lots of A&E will allow almost anyone to ski bumps. After all these years, I still ski bumps, though not as well as I'd like.
Originally Posted by Dan DiPiro
About pivot slips, skis and tuning…
Yes, very shaped skis are not ideal for moguls because they want so badly to hook up and carve. Mogul skis, which have remained strait for the most part, are built for, among other things, quick and easy rotary-powered turns (and then a firm edge-set at the bump, too). Detuning a shaped ski might make it easier to pivot; I don’t mess too much with very shaped skis, though, so I don’t know for sure.
There are all-mountain skis out there that are not extremely shaped and are decent in the bumps. If you want the very best tool for the job, that would be a mogul ski. But I know plenty of good bump skiers who rip it up on shaped skis.
By the way, my book includes a lot of information about the mogul skier’s equipment: skis, poles, bindings, et cetera.
Although they are not the best tool for the job (I make them do many other things as well), I ski bumps on shaped skis. Pivoting and "schmearing" on them requires accurate edging, especially since I am fond of a tune that hooks up well when tipped on edge. In my opinion, though, assuming the equipment is not seriously defective or inadequate in some way, I should be able to make the necessary movements in a variety of conditions that will allow that equipment to work. I don't like to blame my equipment for my own failings, which are many.
As far as Dan's earlier question regarding P/CSIA opinions of competitive bumpers: We believe it is great, athletic, well-balanced, focused
skiing. It works extremely well for the task at hand. It involves a particular skill blend with a particular goal. That skill blend, however, is not appropriate for many other situations, any more than high speed arcs with minimal steering are generally applicable in the bumps (although in some cases, it can be done). Further, time is indeed a component of scoring for competitive bumps. There may not be any gates, but speed is one of the goals. The competition line, when skied with minimal rotary and minimal skidding as is done in competition, tends to be faster than many people really want to go through a given set of bumps.
A solution, of course, is to ski a very similar line, with all the A&E and a bit more rotary. Keep the skis flat so you stay in the corridor, but let 'em skid. Keep the speed comfortable, keep absorbing and extending, and allow the CM to move smoothly down the hill in a relatively straight line despite what the feet are doing. This sort of thing requires all the PSIA fundamentals: balance, first and foremost; upper-lower body separation; accurate edging; clean release to allow rotary without a step or a hop; etc.
Judges also like to see knees and feet not only working together, but physically together. Again, this may be appropriate for the task, but it can seriously limit your versatility if you attempt to apply it everywhere. The competitors, despite having their feet and legs as close as they can get them and still function, have all the fundamentals listed above, and then some. Of course, it's excellent skiing!
If you can, find the slow-motion video of Nelson Carmichael's run for the Olympic silver a few years ago. It's awesome! The moves are all there, and that particular run shows great turn shape, which is why I like it. (Of course, Dan might argue that turn shape cost him the gold.)
As an aside, I have been known to comment that I think someone is headed for knee trouble, generally when I can hear a pronounced impact on every bump. Good competitors ski with less noise.
For a PSIA exam, it's necessary to show more turn shape than most competition runs and more versatility, and the run is not timed. I suspect that a good competitor can already show that turn shape (Carmichael certainly did) and versatility if they want; if they can't show it immediately, they can learn it fairly quickly because they have all the fundamental skills. The L3 instructor, on the other hand, might take a very long time to refine his/her skills to the point of becoming a competitive bumper. However, they should be able to learn to apply some of the competitive methods to their own skiing fairly quickly if properly coached. Again, it's because the fundamentals are the same.
I do not, by the way, include myself among those who have had that coaching and can apply competitive methods to my bump skiing. In my opinion, my skiing, including my bump skiing, leaves much to be desired, my verbose posts notwithstanding.