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The surprising motion of ski moguls
November 22, 2009 4:43 PM   Subscribe

The surprising motion of ski moguls: ski moguls migrate uphill, even though skiers and snow move downhill. Time lapse video (YouTube)

Supplemental material including several time lapse videos (scroll down) of moguls migrating uphill. My favourite mogul spot: Paradise Bowl at Lake Louise.
posted by furtive (33 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Dear scientists: Just because it's 30fps doesn't mean you have to convert 30 frames of footage into 1 second of video. And would it have killed you to shoot in similar lighting conditions? It seems like you took a picture once a day whenever you remembered to. Epileptics beware. Still, it's an unexpected effect.
posted by Kyol at 5:00 PM on November 22, 2009 [12 favorites]


But there is no snobel prize unless they add in the effects of snowboarders. All the skiers I know say the snowboarders ruin the moguls.
posted by procrastination at 5:00 PM on November 22, 2009


Makes sense. The downhill skiers pile snow on the top side of the mogul, and erode it downwards towards the top of the next one.
posted by Eideteker at 5:06 PM on November 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Which I would have read about if I hadn't just gone: "OOOH VIDEO!"
posted by Eideteker at 5:06 PM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Of course ski moguls migrate uphill. The hot chocolate and ski bunnies are in the lodge.
posted by DU at 5:10 PM on November 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Short skis still suck. 210cm telemarks truck.
posted by hortense at 5:20 PM on November 22, 2009


Lake Louise! I once skied there in August; it was warm enough that there were people skiing without shirts (I watched one guy wipe out and almost felt bad for him) and in bikinis.

It looks like some of the competition courses are sculpted with machines, but I had no idea that moguls usually form on their own and migrate in this way. Cool.
posted by cubby at 5:25 PM on November 22, 2009


What Eide said.
posted by box at 5:37 PM on November 22, 2009


But there is no snobel prize unless they add in the effects of snowboarders. All the skiers I know say the snowboarders ruin the moguls.

Yeah, that's kind of intentional. Moguls suck for snowboarding. I've seen plenty of snowboarders intentionally bash through them trying to flatten them, and this is why most resorts groom most of their runs flat, now.

Philosophically speaking moguls just don't make any sense to snowboarders. "You want to do what? Bounce around little molehills of snow to see how fast you can hop and turn around your poles? Why!? What's wrong with you? Doesn't that hurt your knees?"

Snowboarding is very aesthetically different than (traditional) alpine skiing. Freeride snowboarding is all about carving, going fast and leaning deep into wide, arcing turns and just flowing all over the runs about as fast as you dare, a lot like surfing or downhill skateboarding.

Frankly, I'll take snowboarding. The g-forces in the turns are more fun and there's a lot more loose flow and fun in my opinion. There's nothing quite like carving up thick powder and being able to float over it and lay so deep into a turn your head is inches from the ground going 30-40 miles an hour. Skiing just feels like too much work and knee damage even without the moguls.

Me? I avoid just avoid runs with moguls. It's like trying to skateboard on cobblestones.
posted by loquacious at 5:38 PM on November 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that's kind of intentional. Moguls suck for snowboarding. I've seen plenty of snowboarders intentionally bash through them trying to flatten them, and this is why most resorts groom most of their runs flat, now.

This is why I hate most snowboarders (and I am one) -- because a not-insignificant percentage of them doesn't think, "Oh, hey, skiers like moguls so I'll stay away from those runs and try not to flatten them" but instead think, "Moguls suck. I should flatten them, because obviously there's no reason for them to be there."
posted by incessant at 5:52 PM on November 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's nothing quite like carving up thick powder and being able to float over it and lay so deep into a turn your head is inches from the ground going 30-40 miles an hour.

You can do that on skis, too. It is an amazing feeling.

Skiing just feels like too much work and knee damage even without the moguls.

You're doing it wrong. Both sports are all about flow.
posted by Opposite George at 6:22 PM on November 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


You're doing it wrong.

Sorry, that was obnoxious. But seriously, the reason skiing seems like a lot of work to most people is it's too easy to get most of the way to where you want by muscling the skis around. A little coaching will get you in touch with the movements you need to make to ski without work. Hell, if a klutz like me (with shitty knees, to boot) can get there, anybody can.
posted by Opposite George at 6:29 PM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Moguls let you ride the fall line – the straightest and steepest line – while controlling your speed. Not many skiers can spend half a day, let alone all day, on moguls, but it does make for a fun challenge.

loquacious' description could equally apply to downhill or super-G. I love carving some lines on the single snowboard, but bending over all the time, walking on flat parts, and the tumbles on the wrists are just too insulting for this skier.
posted by furtive at 6:30 PM on November 22, 2009


Frankly, I'll take snowboarding. The g-forces in the turns are more fun and there's a lot more loose flow and fun in my opinion. There's nothing quite like carving up thick powder and being able to float over it and lay so deep into a turn your head is inches from the ground going 30-40 miles an hour. Skiing just feels like too much work and knee damage even without the moguls.

It's the skier, not the equipment. I can float and carve waaay better and faster than a board on my old 210 Volkl GS skis. Or I can strap on the 185s and go bumping (although the knees are getting a little old). Just do what you love; there's nothing like true carving, no matter what you're riding.

(A little story about the rider, not the equipment theory. Twenty years or more ago, Glen Plake obliterated the field in qualifiers for the US Mogul team. I mean, he just handed it to 'em --- on 223s! When they offered him a spot on the team, he said he wasn't a team player, and walked away.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:36 PM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


If ridges on Alaskan mountain faces look like moguls, you might be Dana Flahr. pt.1, pt.2 (pt.2 1:20 is mindblowing)
posted by anthill at 7:53 PM on November 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Anyone who's skied them knows that they're ALIVE!!!!
posted by HTuttle at 10:11 PM on November 22, 2009


Moguls take on a shape that is characteristic of the average ability of the people who ski them. Fast, smooth skiers make for fast smooth moguls. Ski where the skiers go.
posted by vapidave at 10:34 PM on November 22, 2009


Dear scientists: Just because it's 30fps doesn't mean you have to convert 30 frames of footage into 1 second of video.

There's a slower version from the same poster out there to the right.

And would it have killed you to shoot in similar lighting conditions?

You don't have clouds where you live, ever? Yet you have snow? Strange place.
posted by effbot at 1:44 AM on November 23, 2009


I was skiing once when I was about fourteen. I stuck to the bunny hill all day, essentially just sledding while standing up. Our group was about to leave and it was announced there was time for one more run. So I of course went to the moguls. I made it past the first few I encountered, mostly going over instead of around. About a third of the way down, however, my right ski inserted itself, impossibly, about four inches into a mogul. I was left dangling at an odd angle, unable to free myself for many minutes; it's impossible to say how many, as a severe cramp settled into my right leg and time both stood still and ran on to eternity as I focused on the pain.

A kid of about seven or eight came shussing down the mountain and stopped when he got to me. I didn't ask for help as I assumed my plight was quite obvious. He sort of cocked his head a bit like a dog hearing another dog bark on the television, and then took off down the hill. No Nelson Muntz type laugh, he just took off. And there was no urgency in his style, so he wasn't going to get help.

Eventually I was able to free my boot from the lodged ski and after a moment of rubbing my leg and sulking, I tore the ski out of the mogul. This left a rather large crater in the small hill. Golf etiquette is to replace your divots. Does a similar rule govern mogul skiing or does this occur so infrequently as to preclude a ruling? I didn't care. I threw my skis and poles down the hill and scooted on my butt after them, afraid to repeat my mishap.

I have one other skiing story that involves the threat of sodomy that I'll tell you about some other time.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 4:16 AM on November 23, 2009


Skiing the soft moguls that form immediately after a powder dump makes me feel like my 5 year old self on my Flexible Flyer. With a box of chocolates and a dog.
posted by Ella Fynoe at 4:20 AM on November 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


Snowboard vs. Ski = Mac vs. PC
posted by autodidact at 6:44 AM on November 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


ski moguls migrate uphill, even though skiers and snow move downhil

Sadly, middle-aged skiers move backwards.

(30 years of intermittent ski-ing & I'm back on green runs and claiming x-country is a "better" work out! It's so humiliating.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:44 AM on November 23, 2009


"Snowboard vs. Ski = Mac vs. PC"

More easily settled. They have snowboard downhill races on TV occasionally. One of the shots they like to show is following the racers closely as they go down the course. The camera operator is on skiis - snowplowing - so he doesn't pass the snowboarders.
posted by vapidave at 8:18 AM on November 23, 2009


I don't see what's so "surprising" about this apparent motion. Of course moguls migrate upwards, as skiers carve out their bottoms and pile snow upon their tops. Moreover, if you go through the same mogul run several times in one single day and pay a little attention, you'll notice this migration yourself, without any need for time-lapse video.

Especially if you are the kind of incompetent skier who tends to hit every single mogul head-on, like me. You get quite closely acquainted with them, believe me.
posted by Skeptic at 8:24 AM on November 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not knowing what a 'ski mogul' was, I found myself imagining Donald Trump rolling, slowly and over the course of several weeks, up a mountain.
posted by stelas at 8:33 AM on November 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Seconding Ella Fynoe: There's nothing quite like soft moguls after a decent snowfall, that's the moguls skiers live for. Icy Volkswagon-size moguls aren't fun for anyone.
posted by joecacti at 9:22 AM on November 23, 2009


This is why I hate most snowboarders (and I am one) -- because a not-insignificant percentage of them doesn't think, "Oh, hey, skiers like moguls so I'll stay away from those runs and try not to flatten them" but instead think, "Moguls suck. I should flatten them, because obviously there's no reason for them to be there."

Well, to be fair, to a skier there's something even worse than a snowboarder bashing his way down a mogul run, namely a snowboarder standing (or sitting) cluelessly in the middle of a mogul run, not knowing what to do with all those bumps and spoiling everybody else's perfect trajectory...
posted by Skeptic at 9:23 AM on November 23, 2009


Moguls suck... me and my board stay away from them. However they're a great source of entertainment otherwise. There's nothing like sitting in the lift and watching overconfident skiers bail out. For some reason it always takes at least 300 feet of tumbling before they come to a complete stop after eating it and then the poor bastards have to hike all the way back up in their heavy ski boots to collect the trail of dozens of pieces of gear they lost on the way down. Ah, sweet Schadenfreude!!!
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:01 AM on November 23, 2009


I bash down moguls because I'm riding the back edge of my board 80% of the time. I don't hate skiers, I just suck at snowboarding.
posted by GuyZero at 10:19 AM on November 23, 2009


Short skis still suck. 210cm telemarks truck.

I spent several years bashing through mogul fields on 185cm Volkls. I'm five feet tall, so it felt like driving a limo through an obstacle course. If I could return to skiing, I'd pick up a pair of flexy little 170s for moguls... and a pair of long skis for cruising. Taking the Volkls down a smooth run was like flying.

I can't ski anymore, but I dream about it. Vividly.

Working at a ski resort one winter, I watched a little girl destroy a knee learning to snowboard on a bunny slope. I couldn't make myself try boarding after that.
posted by swerve at 10:54 AM on November 23, 2009


I live in a resort town, most common injury I see is broken wrist or arm. Guess what they were doing?
posted by furtive at 7:42 PM on November 23, 2009


Once upon a time, when moguls formed by people carving turns on longer skis, it was possible to ski the serpentine troughs between the bumps(such a gas!) with the advent of shorter easier to skid skis the moguls became choppy, a challenging a new sport developed but something was lost.
posted by hortense at 9:51 PM on November 23, 2009


There is still a place you can find ski-carved bumps:

Ski it if you can*.
----------------------------------------
*Hee!
posted by Opposite George at 2:55 PM on November 25, 2009


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