Still don’t see what the big deal is, racers skid or steer to approach gate a certain way and hit the line they want. Even very good skiers do this in those narrow twisty trails we have in NE.
Absolutely, Jack--I agree. Twisting, pivoting, skidding, and braking are all critically important skills in the complete skier's repertoire, and even the most offensively-inclined athletes will brake when necessary. But it is not their default movement pattern. Braking is a vital skill, but it is also a bad habit. I submit again that great offensive skiers invariably know how to brake, but that habitual brakers rarely know how to turn!
To expand on what I wrote a couple posts ago, and to repeat again what I have said here at EpicSki for years, the defining signature of great skiing is "skiing a slow enough line as fast as you can, when you can...and braking when you have to." I maintain that the greatest skiers, as well as beginners and intermediates who are on the road to greatness--in all disciplines from alpine racing to powder to "big mountain" and moguls--all share this one trait. They glide when they can, and brake when they have to. They control speed (as much or as little as desired) first with tactics (line) and only second with technique (braking). Their turns have one purpose--control direction--as they turn to "go that way," rather than to "stop going this way." On the other hand, most skiers who "turn to control speed" become habitual brakers, sacrificing a good deal of directional precision and control in favor of skidding and scrubbing off speed.
Moguls, perhaps more than any other condition, lend themselves very well to either strategy. With the natural unweighting that bumps provide, it's exceedingly easy to pivot the skis around and, unlike ice for example, it's a sure bet that they'll stop skidding as soon as they skid sideways into the next bump. So defensive "pivot-skid-whack" is a reliable, if unsophisticated, way to ski bumps. It's easy to learn and effective, especially if your goal is to cling tightly to the fall line (meaning, you don't want or need to change direction).
But because moguls are also little individual hills that you can glide up, they facilitate "skiing the slow line fast" with offensive speed control ("direction, not friction") just as well. But you have to know how to make a real turn--a real direction change, using the skis to help shape the turn with minimal skidding. Powerful, efficient, precise offensive turns--a largely forgotten art these days, it seems--require highly disciplined technique. The movements--or at least, the offensive intent that dictates these movements--is not intuitive to most skiers who seem to think only of controlling speed with their "turns" (yes, I use the term loosely here).
In general, offensive skiing (turning for direction control while controlling speed with tactics) is more technically demanding, while defensive skiing ("turning" directly for speed control--better called "braking"--while sacrificing some directional control as a result) is more athletically demanding--especially in bumps. At the highest levels--ie
. World Cup competition--either can be equally impressive, as athletes push the limits of both their technical prowess and their considerable athleticism to the max. The straight fall-line world of competitive bump skiing, with little speed control and no direction changes required, favors neither strategy over the other. You can ski the "zipperline" either way and, unlike alpine racing, we see mogul athletes excel from both ends of the spectrum. That's unfortunate, in my opinion, but it's what it is (currently...).