Mastering the Mind in Moguls
Years ago the Zen “Master of Moguls,” Joe Nacka, shared with me how to master the mind in moguls.
“The key to skiing moguls is to relax and the key to relaxing is to breathe,” Nacka said. “And remember, mogul skiing is a state of being, not doing, free of self judgment and critical thinking.”
Then he shared the mogul mastery, which had existed since the time of mogul creation on the day after the first powder field was skied out, and moguls formed due to lack of snow and over use.
Start with two to three warm up runs on a groomed trail making short turns in sets of eight to 10 turns per set. Make the first turn of each set the best because it sets up the rest of your turns.
While skiing, repeat the “Mogul Mantra” out loud: “I am calm and strong, fluid and loose, I am calm and strong, fluid and loose.”
While riding the lift focus on your breathing and slightly swing your feet from the chair and chant: “I am calm and strong, fluid and loose, I am calm and strong, fluid and loose.”
Next, find a low angle mogul field—traverse into it so moguls surround you. This is less intimidating than standing on top of a mogul field.
Then ski the bumps in sets of six to eight turns per set. Remember, make the first turn of each set the best because it sets up the rest.
While skiing, the critical motion is your feet retracting and extending under your upper body as you ski.
As you ski into each mogul, extend your downhill pole in preparation of the pole plant and allow your feet to retract up and under your hips.
As you crest the bump and plant your pole, push your tips down the backside of the bump. You can create this motion by pulling your heels slightly up and pressing on the balls of your feet.
Repeat for six to eight turns and stop.
The key to the retraction is to actively pull your feet up under your hips. This will create the absorption required to remain calm and strong.
Stand up between moguls and keep your arms reaching out for the next pole plant. This will act as a counter force to the mogul allowing you to remain in balance.
If you become frustrated, stop. Leave the mogul zone and take a free run while repeating the Mogul Mantra, then come back to the mogul zone free of frustration.
And remember, to master the mind in moguls, the key is to relax and the key to relaxing is to breathe. Mogul skiing is a state of being, not doing, free of self-judgment and critical thinking.
Extreme skiing pioneer Dan Egan has appeared in 12 Warren Miller Ski films and countless others. Today he teaches clinics and guides trips at locations around the world including Big Sky, Killington, Val D Isere, Japan and Chile.