how are moguls made?

How Are Moguls Made? The Full Low-Down!

by Fraser

Every skier and snowboarder will one day face these evil mounds. I’m yet to meet the person that truly finds them fun! But how are moguls made? Are they really the work of the devil?

Most ski moguls will form naturally on any ski terrain that is not regularly flattened by snow groomers. This is due to skiers recurrently turning in similar patterns, pushing the snow into piles. When the snow thaws and then refreezes, these piles harden, becoming moguls. 

But is this always the case? Are skiers really to blame for these lumpy atrocities? Keep reading to find out…

How Are Moguls Made For Competition?

Mogul skiing first appeared in the Olympics in 1988, however only as an entertaining demonstration. It wasn’t until 1992 that they became an official medal sport. This posed a new challenge – creating a standardized mogul field for the competition! So how are moguls made for competitions?

During formal competitions, mogul fields must comply with the International Ski Federation (FIS) standards. The moguls used are therefore man-made, created using snowcats and a team of snow groomers. The stages involved in building a mogul field are outlined below:

  • First the course is measured out, as per the Olympic standards.
  • The snow is then flattened out using the snowcat.
  • Next, individual mounds are systematically made with even spacing between them.
  • These are then shovelled and hand-shaped by a team of snow groomers. 
  • The course is then skied to check for symmetry and add to the mogul formation. 

If you’re really curious, then this is demonstrated excellently in the video below. Watch till the end for an incredible display of how moguls should be skied.

How Are Ski Moguls Made Naturally?

I guess I already answered this at the start. But I’ll outline it with a little more detail here. 

Basically, take a beautiful blank groomed run or powder field. The first skier who heads down it (that lucky son of a gun) will push the fresh snow outwards on each turn, forming small heaps of snow.

This is exaggerated by each subsequent skier, particularly once the fresh snow has tracked out. It soon becomes easier to follow the old tracks than to form new ones. This deepens the groves between snow mounds and increases their height. 

Next, throw in a couple of cycles of thawing and freezing again – you’ve got yourself some solid ass moguls!

What Is A Mogul Field?

Now that we’ve defined moguls, it doesn’t take a huge stretch to imagine what a mogul field is. 

Essentially, as moguls form in the centre of a run, riders will start skiing (or snowboarding) around them. The snow will then be pushed out to the edges of the run and further towards the bottom. 

This forms more and more moguls. In time, these will extend across the whole slope, forming a mogul field

Are Moguls Made By Skiers?

Yes, moguls are made by skiers. I imagine they do this on purpose just to punish us snowboarders… 

I’m joking of course. Skiers are not solely responsible for mogul formation. Snowboarder’s do also contribute.

Whilst snowboarders tend to follow less rhythmical turning patterns than skiers, there’s no denying that they’re also responsible for sweeping snow into piles (forming moguls). 

However, most snowboarder’s run a mile at the first sign of a mogul. They’re also more likely to scrape the top off of moguls when side-slipping, reducing the chances of mogul field formation. 

Do Moguls Move Uphill? (Fun Fact!)

Here’s a crazy fact for you. Moguls move uphill during the season! One study found movement of up to 33-feet per mogul per season!

how are moguls made?

Why Is Skiing Moguls So Hard?

Skiing moguls is difficult because moguls rarely form in predictable or consistent patterns. This makes it particularly hard for the skier to plan their route. The varied sizes of mound can also represent a challenge. These can knock the skier off balance or even send them into the air. Scary stuff!

Are Moguls Harder For Skiers Or Snowboarders?

Moguls are harder for snowboarders than skiers. This is obviously dependent on the person skiing or snowboarding, however overall snowboarders will struggle more.

This is partly because skiers can use the “pole plant” technique and are able to separate their legs when needed. Snowboards will occasionally also bend and get stuck inside the tracks between moguls. Not ideal!

How To Tackle Moguls

I’ve written a separate article on how my snowboarding friends can “master the mogul”. Check it out < here >

For my skiing guests, I’m afraid I’m not the best person to instruct you on this one. I hung up my skis the first time I tried a snowboard!

Final Thoughts

Hopefully I’ve answered all of your pressing mogul questions! If not, drop me a line in the comments below. 

If you’re heading out to a mogul field, good luck my friend!

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