A Mogul Field is Born

A few days ago, as I was riding the Empire Express chairlift, I overheard a couple’s conversation about how moguls were created. I listened to the answer the husband gave, smiled and remained silent. I felt compelled to do some research, even though I’ve been around moguls all of my life, and knew that these snow formations are created in very strange ways. As you may know, some moguls are natural, and others are created artificially for the purpose of freestyle competition. So, I zeroed-in on the natural ones. We’ll discover the “man-made moguls” in a subsequent blog…

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The creation of natural moguls begins through the repeated passage of skiers following the same “line” through the snow. When the snow is fresh, or soft enough, snow gets pushed to the side of the turn, away from the skis. This creates a curvy snow mound on the periphery of the turn that grows with each skier’s turn. This snow build-up is caused by the skis cutting a rounded trough into the snow that also gets deeper as skiers follow the path.
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At the same time, snow is also moved from top to bottom, as the ski slows down, it brings snow from the top of the mogul to that of the mogul below. The formation of mogul is thus a three-dimensional process that is also a continuing story about accumulation and erosion of snow. There’s a point where the mounds of snow created on either side of the tracks turns into a large, rounded bump and the trough becomes a wide, rounded groove.
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As the snow builds up higher, more people ski around the higher snow and thus push more snow against the growing mound. There is also a point when snow piles exceed a certain critical size and skiers choose to bypassing them. By doing so, they contribute to accentuate the peaks and valleys that have now given birth to moguls. What used to be a rounded top, is now taking a teardrop shape.
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As the process continues, the choices of available path become fewer and fewer, skiers will tend to follow the “paths” already delineated between the bumps. One could say that the appearance of a regular pattern of bumps is a very good example of self-organization. So you have it: repeated skiing following the same path create moguls. When the slope is wide enough to accommodate a number of parallel paths, a complete, beautiful mogul field soon takes form, like the one we typically see on Empire Bowl.
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This basic theory is unfortunately too simple. There are variables that cause vast variations in the appearance of moguls. That’s right, the first bump is never created in an orderly manner. Skis go a certain way and not necessarily in the direction desired by the skier. Likewise, bumps pattern, shape and size will vary with each individual’s height, weight, speed, as well as technical ability.
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Then, there’s ski length, snow quality (whether it’s hard or soft) and slope grade that also plays a role. Now you can appreciate, how uncertain and even quite chaotic this formative process can be.
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Mogul fields often create angst for beginner and intermediate skiers. The mere sight of them usually conjures complexity, uncertainty, confusion and almost every time, fear. This doesn’t need to be. In observing a mogul field, it’s easy to see that all moguls have relatively flat tops. Just like a giant staircase, this series of flat tops can be used to “walk-down” the hill with skis on. As an added advantage, each mogul top gathers soft clumps of snow which slows a skier down and lets the skis pivot easily into the next turn.

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To conquer the moguls with the least amount of speed, you’ll want to consistently turn on the crest of the moguls and stay out of the troughs. This makes negotiating a bumpy hill child’s play, making for a safe and fun experience. Of course, if you can’t muster the courage to attempt this on your own, the next best way to successfully address any “mogul phobia” is to ask a ski instructor to familiarize yourself with the strange, yet quite natural elements, one mogul at the time. You’ll soon discover that the battalions of moguls that used to scare you will not just become your friends, but will develop into an endless source of fun!

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Deer Valley Resort's Global Athlete Ambassador, Ted Ligety, is back on skis after 10 weeks of recovering from microdiscectomy surgery. Welcome back Ted! | #DeerValleyMoment ... See MoreSee Less

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Eric HandMore impressed by the steady camera work of whoever was following him

2 days ago   ·  17

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Matthew LivingstonShredd!! You're the best. Same run I fractured my tibial plateau on last year. Glad to see you're back. Hope I can do the same next year.

2 days ago   ·  1
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Lori Mencarelli WalshWELCOME BACK!!! I'm 15 months post op discectomy/laminectomy and last week was my first time on skis since :)) It felt GREAT!!! Best wishes to you and your recovery'!!! Pain free is the BEST!!!

6 hours ago
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Mitch MannWe wore the same color jacket and skied DV today as well, but our skiing form was a tad different.

2 days ago
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Bill PidwellAnd he even slowed down for the slow signs bottom Wasatch -- what a stud!

1 day ago   ·  1
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Rod WoodGreat vid... Almost felt like I was on skiis just bebind him. Luv the speed Luv the feeling

1 day ago
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Priscilla GrahamSitting in Florida in 85 degree weather...you have no idea how good this looks!!

2 days ago   ·  2
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Justin IrishDidn't get to see you at nationals in Colorado but I'm glad your back man !!!

1 day ago
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John TredentTrue carve turn, Ted is one of the best in the world.

2 days ago   ·  2
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Tess TeurlingsTyler Teurlings they finally got around to posting this video of me from spring break

2 days ago   ·  1
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Stephen PohlmanWizard

2 days ago   ·  2
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Larry WeiderThat's what I look like in my head when I ski. It's better I never know what I actually look like.

2 days ago   ·  1
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Kelly DetweilerLooks good to me ☺

2 days ago
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Ron ReillySmooth

2 days ago
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Justin BrownThat guy knows his way around an edge! Awesome!! Steve Levitas Lauren Stone

2 days ago   ·  1
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Max ScottPaul Stu Herlan you guys just missed ripping some runs with Ted

2 days ago   ·  1

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Jeff PetersonHe recovered well! He listened to and followed the instructions of his surgery team!

2 days ago   ·  1
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Wendy Lynne Castle SimkinsLooking good! ⛷Glad to see you are back on skis!

1 day ago
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Dennis BressGreat run and great camera work. :-) Kerry Rutherford

2 days ago

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Octavio BarreraEmilio Fernandez our next level of skiing for next winter 💪🏽

2 days ago

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Scott DillmanGo Ted. I am sure it feels really good to be carving some turns. Enjoy your regained freedom.

2 days ago
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Karen-Cecil ThompsonBeautiful to watch.

1 day ago
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Rod Wood

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Davey ClementMust be closed or no one else can afford to be there.

1 day ago
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Andrew NolandMichael Riley] ... I think he makes a few more turns than us... 😂

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Sunday, March 26, 2017
Deer Valley Resort has recieved over 400 inches of snow this season and still has a 101" base. You can only #SkiTheDifference for three more weeks. | Skier: Jillian Vogtli Video: Chris Morgan / Two Sherpas LLC on Sunday, March 26, 2017.
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Rose JutrasGo Jillian!! What an Ambassador!!

3 days ago   ·  1

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Adi DeOltManon Mbd she has the same color equipment like me. And I skied there. Could it be me? 😂😂😂

2 days ago   ·  1
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Claine CowdrickWhy end the season if there is still enough snow to ski on? Extend the season maximize profits

2 days ago
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Sue Mcjamesgo girl!

5 hours ago   ·  1
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Steve ZebrowskiSure didn't look anywhere near 101 inch base Saturday

2 days ago   ·  1
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Marcela MrugalaIt was a fantastic day of skiing yesterday!

3 days ago
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Ken RuanoMaybe I should come up?

1 day ago
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Brandon BenallyCute but can she ski MOGULS as fast?

3 days ago
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Lori Mencarelli WalshI look just like that skiing!!! ( in my head ; )

7 hours ago   ·  1
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Lou KaltensteinWatched her cut her teeth at Holiday Valley! Go girl!

2 days ago   ·  1
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Indy BaileyVery cool!!

3 days ago   ·  1
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Nic ReneeAwesome skiing this year

3 days ago
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Sheila RoseBobby Quinn and friends!! We are still getting snow!

1 day ago
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Tia Allison Mittelstadt"Received"

1 day ago
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Elaine Lawrencer u having a good time

3 days ago
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Larry TallmanWhat a year and still coming.

4 hours ago
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Kathy Meindel PalmerBeautiful. Have fun

2 days ago
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Tai RobinsonYeah Jillian Vogtli!

3 days ago   ·  1

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