Olympic gold medalist and world champion mogul
skier, Donna Weinbrecht, shares tips
It may seem a far stretch for an Olympic champ who pinballs zipper
lines down Outer Limits, break down mogul skiing in terms
non-experts can understand. But Donna Weinbrecht, who leads
clinics at Killington throughout the year, yet again impresses us
with her skill to teach.
Weinbrecht answers questions about how improve your spring bumps
Ski & Ride: How do you control your speed?
Especially on bumps as steep as Outer Limits at Killington?
Donna Weinbrecht: It depends on your level, but
if you're skiing Outer Limits, I assume you're an intermediate to
expert skier. For intermediate levels, I recommend practicing a
fuller turn to control speed. You can hockey stop on the front side
of a bump with your skis facing the trees, and hold that position
until you're ready to rise up and complete the turn on the back
side of the mogul. This is the breakdown of movement for
absorption, which is the key to skiing moguls. You can do this
progression very very slowly.
Experts skiers will be able to take a more direct line with their
tips pointed down the fall line. In competitions we use moguls to
generate speed carving on the front and back side of the
S&R: What terrain is best for practicing mogul
DW: When I teach clinics at Killington we
practice a lot on the flats. This is where we try to fix bad
habits, like pole-planting into the body or way off to the sides.
We practice a lot of quick turns and temp changing. In moguls you
have to be somewhat aggressive.
Upper and lower body separation is key to skiing moguls, your
upper body needs to face down the hill while your lower body
remains loose turning from side to side and absorbing the terrain
(rather than letting the terrain through you.)
After we practice good technique in the flats, we move to an
intermediate bump run, something not too steep and where the moguls
are a bit looser and we practice our techniques there. It's a build
up to process.
S&R: How do you visualize your run when you stand at
the top of a bump run?
DW: I always look for a rhythmic decent. We call
it a 'line.' I visualize the first six good turns before I even
move; I call it my game plan. Then I keep my eyes up. I am always
looking at least one to three bumps ahead. For experts you are
never physically where you are, you learn trust and efficiency
always making a plan down the line. Sometimes when nothing is there
and I need a new line, I go over the top and just hit it, I make a
couple of turns down the spine until I am able to find another
sweet line. Again, this requires looking ahead and really
understanding the anatomy of moguls.
S&R: When you look down a mogul field do you focus on
the troughs or the peaks?
DW: At first I look at the troughs to see the
line, but then I look up and over them. The game plan comes from
the trough but when I'm moving I am looking at the peaks.
S&R: How do you find a rhythm that you can sustain
without blowing out of your line?
DW: A good rhythm is only possible with good
technique. Once the technique breaks and you get thrown into the
backseat you're going to blow out of your line. This often happens
when people get stiff, stop looking up, stop reaching forward or
when the absorption is in the back.
Remember your upper and lower body separation. Keep your
shoulders back and your stomach tight always looking down the hill.
Resist collapsing, like when you get punched in the stomach. There
should be tension in your upper body while your lower body stays
S&R: How do you "absorb" a mogul with your legs so
you don't catch unintended air?
DW: The key is ski to snow contact. Experts
use their tips to drive into the bump, when I feel the ski flex, I
am pulling up with my legs. Use your hips and tips to rise up the
crest. Use your extensions, we do not ski in a squat or straight
legged. When an expert is skiing bumps you won't see the base of
People most often get air when they get in the backseat, when
this happens think about pushing your hips up and through and using
your full extensions.
S&R: What role does pole-planting/pole positioning
have in mogul skiing?
DW: Pole-planting is quite important for rhythm.
You should be planting mid-girth to the top of a mogul, not in the
trough, that's too late. Your pole should not break into the body
or to the side, this will put you in the backseat. Rather your
poles should be comfortable out in front and slightly to the side
of your body. Swing your shaft out, punch and release. It is good
to practice pole-planing in the flat area too, as many approach
bumps with bad habits that will make them more difficult to
S&R: What is the most common difficulty people tend
to have when learning bumps?
DW: They get stiff or otherwise loose the good
technique they had when skiing the flats.
S&R: How do you help them overcome that
DW: We practice the breakdown of movement for
absorption very slowly, hockey stop down and release. People are
often very shocked at how slowly I can ski moguls with good
position. When they get comfortable with this, we practice fluidity
stepping on the front side [of the mogul] and rising up with hips
Sometimes we go back to the flat trail and practice keeping the
lower body loose and the upper body down the hill, not facing the
trees like most are used to in a hockey stop.
S&R: If you had one tip folks to practice while
spring skiing bumps, what would it be?
DW: Have fun it's just mogul skiing. Remember
your sunscreen and smile!