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Crafty ways to teach bumps required

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Reading the midwest bumps thread brought back memories of all those privates I've had, where the guest has bought themselves a 1 or 2 hour lesson, "to learn how to ski moguls". They don't want to hear that it's going to take longer than that - after all, they've paid around $200. They just want to get in there and learn something. There's a trick to it, right?

Mostly, they're not too happy about being dragged back onto the groomed either, to fix up their horrible technique which is stopping them from skiing bumps. Unless it's to learn something to take straight into the bumps (like flattening the ski and pivoting).

With the dreaded 1 hour bump lesson, I try to cut straight to stance, and work it in with flatten and pivot, and while we're doing that and trying it in the bumps, I'm explaining what they need to get good in bumps.

But, I bet there's some useful sure-fire methods out there that the craftier instructors are using. Something that gets results, makes the guest happy and has them feeling that lessons are value (and so taking more of them!).

Anyone got some nifty tips to share?
post #2 of 19
This is a tough question because it all depends on what my student can do and what they want.

Your first classic student it one who does not posses the skills necessary to run ski bumps effectively continuous line. If that student basically wants to get down and survive a bump run, I am very likely to work with some type of step christe/side slip method in fairly easy bumps. If this same student is unsure what they really want, I am likely to work on developing short turns with side slips along the edges of easy bumps and gradually work into the bump edges. If this student has totally unrealistic expectations I may work with them more on a conceptual explorative basis to give them a much better perspective of a longer path to follow to get where they want to be.

Your second classic student is the one who can link 3 or 4 bumps but then blows up. They almost always want the magic bullet to link turns. Most of the time this is a problem with selecting the appropriate line and turns size to match the moguls and then slamming on the brakes when things get out of whack. With this student I am going to develop the concept of turn size through timing and turn shape. I will start out in very easy bumps or along the edges to develop and understanding of how this works I will encourage them to butter these turns rather than use quick erratic movements. I am then going to move into easy bumps and work a lot on line recognition.

Your third classic student is the student who can ski an effective zipper line but ends up going faster and faster with little effective speed control. Much of the time age has caught up with them. They do okay in easy bumps but blow up in big bumps or long bump runs. With this student I am going to work on the concept of speed control through timing and intensity rather than quick feet and trying to set an edge. I may work with them a little bit on groomed terrain but only to get them to understand the concept of speed control through timing. I will encourage them to stay off the brakes as the brakes interfere with a smooth center of mass flow. The terrain that is appropriate could range all over the place.
post #3 of 19
Fun fun. I do get a kick out of the lunchtime private who wants a download of all your time and experience in a single hour. That said, some concepts can be shared in a few runs.
Here is one for you. Works at many levels. Medium soft to packed snow works best...

take off skis on a blue run with bumps. Ask the skier to walk/shuffle down the path they think they should ski. Usually you will get a skier taking a very direct line (regardless of their skill, or lack thereof). Then you take a wider (more patient) line. I like to connect the faces of the bumps with an arc.
Have the skier, follow your arc. Typically, they will try to cut off the roundness of the turn. Accellerate, then "SLAM", Accellerate, then "SLAM".

I like to do these walk throughs to best describe different lines through the bumps. i.e. skiing the tops, ruts, banking off the shoulders, etc.

Then put the skis on, and focus on skiing the more patient line. As the skills of the student improve, you can tighten the line, or alternate the line.

to your success,
Jon L.
post #4 of 19
Good information in post by pierre and very interesting approach by snowpro.

The good news with skiing is that once you can ski technically right you can ski bumps and powder . The bad news is that if you cannot ski technically right you cant . Quick conclusion of above is that it pays off to work on your technique. So thats where its got to start no matter how porly student is skilled or how badly he wants to learn bumps.

My bump approach is slightly different to others. I use a pre turn technique as a base. If you are traversing to your right across a regular groomed slope you start your turning with a quick jabb uphill to the right to get your skis unweighted before turning left. The ide is to pritty much turn arround your feet in one spot. Next step is to do it by approaching a mogul in the same way. As you reach the bump try to hit it slightly from the side so that your skis run into soft snow that has been piled up on its uphill side and you need to flex your knees. This is where you put in the jabb and milliseconds later you flex as you are unweighted and passing over the bump. In my book mogul skiing is all abut timing and transforming energy.

I dont have any bump lesson ready but check out my retro parallel skiing lesson in other thread. Basicly same technique.
post #5 of 19
Originally Posted by tdk6 View Post
The good news with skiing is that once you can ski technically right you can ski bumps and powder . The bad news is that if you cannot ski technically right you cant . Quick conclusion of above is that it pays off to work on your technique.
I was thinking this as I read through this thread, tdk6. I realized that, after I had skied several consecutive days of deep powder, skiing bumps was much easier. It was like a little light went on in my head and it all started to make sense.

I think the keys to both bumps and powder is
1) the common use of the pole plant to initiate the turn and create proper timing through the turn
2) learning to keep the upper body quiet and still while allowing the lower body and legs do the work and
3) keeping the feet together, allowing them to work as a single unit.

I think the biggest problem that intermediates have with both powder and bumps is that they try to carve them like the groomers.
post #6 of 19
I like the three ideas above plus:
4) pull the feet back, way back, to keep the feet under the hips as the skier crests over the top. If the ski tips aren't in contact with the snow there is no control.
5) Pre-absorb the crests just before you get there...retracting the legs early results in retracting just in time. Extend down the faces (or back, whatever you call it), then pre-absorb the next crest.

post #7 of 19
I like to traverse a bump run, working on flexion and extension, with a turn at the end of the traverse. After getting the hang of this exercise, I try to cut the traverse to three bumps, followed by a turn. If they have trouble doing a turn, I may teach the stem christie by an active stepping. I then reduce the traverse to two bumps, and finally one bump, at which point they are skiing the bumps. The biggest issue with this progression comes with kids, who get a little oo anxious and try to turn downhill before they have gotten themselves comfortable with the traveerse and turn. It doesn't matter though, because they do learn something about the bumps, and I hate to restrain their enthusiasm (they hate having their enthusiasim restrained as well, so why waste the effort).
post #8 of 19
Two things I get a lot of mileage out of (one has already been mentioned) are having the student pull both feet back as they start the extension, and what I call looking over the wall. Looking over the wall is out of my own head and never seems to fail to get the student(s) making a nice full body long extension. Do this staticly first. Imagine yourself standing against a chin high wall and you want to see what is over the wall on the ground. You will have to rise up slightly on the ball of your feet (and you want this), move forward with the upper body, and peer forward as well. I get them to do this several times standing still, from a crouched position, focusing on the movements starting in the feet and ankles and really getting long. I also quite often have them say "look over the wall" out loud as the move. Then we take this into the bumps. The size of bumps would of course depend on the students level. Performed in the 3D environment of bumps, the rising up on the ball of feet forces the ski tips down as the terrain falls away, while the rest of the body lengthens and moves forward up over the feet.

I might have the mental image be one of looking up into a kitchen cabinet for cookies (with kids) or for a beer for dad. Usually the only things that have to be encouraged are getting to that full extension (ankles, knees, and hips) and timing issues. It is a movement pattern everyone has done many times in everyday life and can relate to.

In the bumps it's easy to get short for most of us but much harder to get long in every turn. This exercise goes a long way towards fixing this. Keeps the skis on the snow and working too. It just about always gets some change, and it is something they can also transfer to other terrain and conditions. Once a skier starts to really feel this movement other issues in their skiing will start to change as well as good extension and flexion create an environment that encourages good skill blending, and relaxed skiing. Later, RicB.
post #9 of 19
do you have access to runs that are partly groomed? If so, in a 1 or 2 hour private, one trick I have used is 1 or 2 turns in the bumps, then 1 or 2 turns on the groomed, etc, building up the number of turns down the slope.the groomer portion allows the student to make controlled turns on terrain she is familiar with, and then carrying over the same turns on a limited number of continous bumps.
post #10 of 19
For me there are a few considerations. First, what type of skill level do they currently have? Secondly, what are their expectations? Third, as I put it, are they lokoing to ski more formed bump runs, more natural bumps, or to just be able to get through the bumps if they take a wrong turn? Fourth, do they have any objections to a couple ideas outside the mogul field?

The first thing I stress with students, irregardless of their answers to be above questions is the body's reaction to new, difficult, or challenging terrain, and how the body's reaction is to lean back (innate fear/intimidation response), and how the more difficult and challenging the terrain may be, the more we need to focus on staying a bit extra forward.

In bumps (easy), I work with fore/aft balance and how it effects the skis while in a slow traverse (tip slap vs. TGIF - Tips Go In First, while also working flexion and extension, extending into the trough). The nice thing about this is that most people feel how they can use their core to correct a balance issue in the bumps and how they can use a traverse or uphill turn to cut their speed, control their speed, or choose a new line. From there, I have people stand on top of a bump, and roll forward, pressing the tips down and into a turn (side door to back door philosophy). Then working with a slow traverse focusing on driving the tips then turn on the top of the bump, then the next traverse, turn in the trough around a bump, then another traverse, turn 1/2 way up the bump (edged into the bump). From this we tighten up the traverse until we get to about a GS type turn in bumps. More agressive/advanced students, I work into tight lines/sometimes zip-lines for a few bumps, then traverse, find a new line, hold a line, traverse, repeat, etc. For the most advanced, I work on "catching" a bump to regain/correct speed or balance issues (jumping from one bump, reaching with the skis through the heels, slightly aft, to "catch" the next bump with the feet, and allow the skis to slow down via the absorbtion while re-centering the hips/CM by allowing it (hips/CM) to continue down the hill over the skis - similar to the old "cowboy turns") and "skip" turns (more rounded turn jumping from one bump and landing on the next, tranfering from turn to turn in the air, an air transition).

Outside the bump field, I will work on dynamic balance (finding a true balanced stance, correcting being to far forward, correcting too far back, etc), dropping into a half-pipe or over terrain features like snow covered rocks (more extreme version of dynamic balance, keeping the CM forward via keping the shoulders over the toes without push the butt out), side slips (uphil hand staying downhil of the downhill ski), pivot slips (pivoting high - extended), retraction pivot slips (pivoting low - flexion/retraction), what I call "reverse turns" - being tallest/extended through the belly of the turn, and being lowest/flexed through the turn completion and into the intiation, edge check/set pivot slips (with and without pole touches), etc.

When teaching bumps, a couple key "mental triggers" I tell people:
- TGIF (Tips Go In First)
- In moguls, always keep speed down (about 1/2 - 2/3 their speed limit so they always have a bit of headroom
- You don't have to turn every bump
- Moguls are formed by turns, don't look at them as objects to avoid, but as objects to help you turn

Depending on the answers to my initial questions, I tend to pick and choose what I teach and how I teach it. For the biggest bang for the buck, I have had the most "quick fix" success with simply getting people to slow down (keeps them more loose and relaxed), focus on staying forward, and not feeling "locked in" by not turning every bump.
post #11 of 19
Here is a little video I made in a flash.... Im trying to demo what I think is a good way to ski bumps. Its all about flexing and extending and absorbing the bumps in order to controll speed. Its also all about timing. At the end of clip 3 I have power enough to jump a bump although the bump is minimal and my speed is very slow. Look at how I accelerate as I go into the fall line and how my speed is slown down when hitting a bump. Dont try to keep a steady rhythm. Try to turn according to the terrain and look for that pile of loose snow on the uphill side of the bumps. Traverse until you find a good place to turn. When you get better try to turn more often. The ultimate goal is to stay in the fall line.

post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 
This is good stuff, all of you!
Yes, TDK, we know that bumps are a distillation of all your good and bad skiing, but in the US, the guest wants results and he wants them NOW! He's paid his money now, show him the trick. So I'm here trolling (successfully) for some things that have the guest feeling some real improvement, even in that dreaded one hour lesson.

Once he's happy, it's much easier to explain to him that bump skiing is a longer slog because it's at the pinnacle of good skiing. He'll be receptive. But if you give him that info when he's just come out of the office, lighter of a few hundred bucks, it's not going to go down well.
post #13 of 19
two words........skid,more
post #14 of 19
Originally Posted by ant View Post
This is good stuff, all of you! but in the US, the guest wants results and he wants them NOW! He's paid his money now, show him the trick.
This is a classic trait and unless it is a safety issue we need to be in the bumps. However, we usually have some terrain to play with on the way or as we enter the bump field. Both Pierre and Rusty have hit on a magic bullet I love to use-even with skiers who never want to ski bumps. Most skiers fear speed in the bumps. If we can get them skidding or buttering the bottom of the turn to create a sense of speed control, first on the way to the mogul field, next with a single bump then linking a series of bumps we have built a technique they can use to "survive" in most mogul fields. From there we can start to develop more sophisticated line and control techniques/tactics. Give them ownership of the simplest survival skills first. And choose your bump field carefully-allow them to experience success.

Originally Posted by ant View Post
Once he's happy, it's much easier to explain to him that bump skiing is a longer slog because it's at the pinnacle of good skiing.
Amen. Once they're happy, the magic question is "How big is your budget?"
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
So true. All of you. The skidding thing is the biggie. A lot of these people are very intermediate (but are at that awful stage where their ego as themselves as a skiier is very inflated), and the shaped skis are having them edging more than ever before. One thing that I do often focus on is flattening and pivoting, to get that new turn happening sooner and sooner. And skidding is very much a part of that. If they are able, we often do some pivot slips on the way to the bumps to get all three happening.

They invariably have a back-stance happening, and we always, always, touch on that, but getting a man out of his beloved backstance in 10 minutes is an interesting proposition, and the minute the bumps start he's back in it anyway.

The speed control is so key, it's essentially what they came to learn. They know that they are the most wonderful skiier on the hill, but when they get into the bumps, the skis start speeding up and they can't hold it together. So if they can acquire speed control, boy are they going to be a happy camper.
post #16 of 19
Some excellent ideas here - especially the pivot-skid genre.

Let's add a couple of additional thoughts.

First, unweighting may not be particularly necessary. Flattening the skis to release allows them to become steerable without requiring unweighting. People unweight because they hang on to that nice secure feeling edge and won't let go until they pop up and try to twist the skis around quickly. They believe that they have to get the skis back across the hill as quickly as possible for speed control. It is a complex motion that consumes valuable energy and limits the amount of speed control that can be obtained at the top of the turn.

Second, it is possible to obtain speed control throughout the turn. Good ground contact is required, so don't unweight. Flatten the skis to release. Allow the tips to drop toward the fall line. Keep the skis flat relative to the bump (yes, Virginia, this can be done on shaped skis) and allow them to skid down the side of the bump even as the skis are pointed down the fall line. There is no need to wait until the bottom of the turn to gain speed control. This also allows more patient, rounder turns. Keep skidding and steering until the turn is complete. This should be smooth, with no "slam" at the bottom of the turn, especially in mild bumps. Choppy bumps require more absorption and will come later. "Complete," especially for someone trying to feel more in control, means keep steering until the skis are pointed towards the side of the run.

Third, this is most easily done with a centered stance. Most people will have some trouble pulling both feet back to re-center, although doing so is often entirely appropriate. They often can pull back the one carrying less weight, though, which will reduce tip lead nicely and frequently (though not always) accomplish the desired goal of getting centered. The idea of pulling the toes up, which tends to bring the knees forward, may also help. A reaching pole touch can help with getting centered and improve upper body discipline.

This often is enough to accomplish the goal of improved speed control with less effort. The moves are offensive, down the hill.

It is, of course, incomplete. As the skier improves, active retraction/extension for the purpose of pressure control (not unweighting) and absorption can be added, allowing the skier to ski more smoothly and handle more difficult bumps. With speed control from the top of the turn, they will start to feel more confident skiing closer to the fall line. With more accurate pressure control and a higher tolerance for speed, the amount of rotary can be reduced; the skill blend can be adjusted.

And, there's always more...

Never stop learning.
post #17 of 19
one would think you spent some time at Winter Park
post #18 of 19
I'd go for a four step lesson.

1. Lead with the inside foot. Can't make a new turn if you haven't let go of the old one.

2. Upper/lower body separation using flexion and extension. You can't have a smooth flow down the mountain if its always pushing you around and groomers aren't as demanding on this because they are 2D terrain.

3. Edge control. Less edge is more drift and speed control, more edge rails off the back of a bump or catches and upsets balance.

4. Line. Rounder lines are slower, straighter lines are faster and the skier has the freedom to pick the one they like.

Introducing these concepts in a one hour lesson isn't going to radically change performance, but it will set them up with at least 3 drills they can do on their own time to greatly improve performance on all terrain.
post #19 of 19
Good stuff here. Something I like to do on the way to the bumps is introduce the concept of turning using the legs (ie rotary). Sometimes I stop at the on-mountain warming hut, which has a pile of firewood. I have the people take off the skis and I give each a piece of firewood to stand on. Once they can stand balanced on the middle of their foot on the piece of firewood, I have them try slowly turning both feet left and right without moving their hips and upper body. I prefer not to call this a pivot, which I think most people interpret as a rapid motion. This is also a balance exercise which can help address the stance issue.

Next I have them play around on the groomed with various slippy-slidey moves such as side slips, traverses with forward side slips, falling leaf, and turns using lots of leg steering and as little edge as possible. I ask them to make movements that are slow and easy, nothing abrupt. If they are catching on, by the time we get to the bumps they are ready to play in them.
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