I love to ski bumps; however I’ve had to modify my approach as I get older so that the repeated impact doesn’t wear me out. While I can ski a “zipper line” of bumps, I find that it’s much harder on my body. I try to avoid the much bigger absorption that skiing directly into the front of the trough requires.
This discussion assumes that you can already ski short-radius turns on a black slope. If not, you can revisit my previous post on short turns. With those skills in-hand, there three keys to mastering the bumps: pressure control, pole usage, and tactics.
Pressure control in the bumps is the flexing and extension of your legs to keep your skis in contact with the snow over uneven terrain. As you ride up onto the bump, allow your legs to absorb the impact starting with your ankles. Keep your core strong and don’t break at the waist. As you come off each bump, extend your legs so that you can absorb the next bump. I see skiers forget to do this and after a few bumps, they “explode” as they have no way to absorb the terrain.
Pole usage in the bumps is essential. You must touch every bump you ski with a pole. This helps your timing and flow, and allows you to stabilize your upper body.
Once you have mastered pressure control and poling, bump skiing is all about line and tactics. Although you can carve in the bumps, I’ve found that the best approach is to use a more skidded turn. This is particularly true with rockered skis.
Think of a bump as having four doors with the one directly below the trough being the front door – consider that locked and don’t enter there. Instead, enter from the side doors and turn on top of the bump where your ski’s tip and tails are off the snow so that it’s easy to pivot. In the diagram at the top, the red and orange lines enter the side of the bump and exit the back door. A longer turn would be the green and blue lines where you enter the side door and exit out the other side.
Occasionally, you’ll need to ski a zipper line turn or two, but using this alternate approach will reduce the pounding on your body. Add in good pressure control and pole usage and you’ll be rocking the bumps for a long time. If you want to learn more about this approach, a clinic with your local PSIA Level 3 certified instructor can help — they are well trained in skiing and teaching bumps.