Freestyle Mogul Skiing: Bumps and Jumps

If you were at Bridger this last weekend, you may have noticed that a bunch of kids were around wearing bibs with race numbers on them. If you rode up the Bridger lift, you probably got to see the mogul course on the run “Bronco,” and maybe even some of the competitors racing down it. These competitors were from various mountains nearby, along with some competitors from as far away as Heavenly Valley, Calif. Their purpose in coming: to ski fast down a course riddled with tough moguls and to hit the two jumps that interrupt the otherwise moguled run.

A mogul course at a smaller, divisional competition like last weekend’s generally has three lanes for a skier to choose from. In each lane, the skier first faces a set of moguls right out of the start gate followed by a jump. After landing the first jump, the competitor skis straight into a second set of moguls that is quite a bit longer than the first and is the biggest component of the course. After the second set of moguls, the skier hits a second jump and a third, final set of moguls before crossing the finish line.

The scoring for freestyle skiing consists of three elements: turn scores, jump scores and speed scores. Turn scores, the most important of the three are worth 50 percent of the overall score and are judged on how well the athlete kept their legs together, absorbed the moguls, pole planted, and stayed in the mogul line they chose at the beginning of their run. The next 25 percent of the competitor’s score is based on their performance on the two jumps–between the tricks that they did in the air–and how well they did the tricks. Finally, speed accounts for the last 25 percent of the athletes score, based on how fast they got from the top to the bottom, compared to a time standardized for the course length and slope.

There are two different competition types for freestyle moguls: singles and duals. Singles is a competition where the athlete goes down the course twice on their own and is given a score for each run based on the above criteria. The better of their two scores is then used to determine their ranking in the competition. The second type, duals, is where the competitor first does one singles run to determine where they will be placed in the brackets, before they race side by side against the other competitors. Each competitor is then judged for who had the better run and the winner advances. Most freestyle mogul competitions have both of these two types of moguls, often single on Saturday and duals on Sunday.

Over a regular season, each division holds several competitions. Bridger Bowl is part of the Northern Division Freestyle which includes Bridger, Montana Snowbowl, Lost Trail and Discovery. This last weekend at Bridger, the winners were Zach Marchi-Steele and Kelsey Thomas for single moguls, and Zach Marchi-Steele and Jenny Williams for dual moguls. If you are interested in seeing some great freestyle mogul skiing and having some fun, there will also be another competition in two weeks with singles on March 1 and duals on March 2.