Moguls

Telluride Ski Resort’s “Making Friends with Moguls” camps will be held in February. Instructors say the camps aim to introduce wary skiers to the joys of handling the bumps. (Courtesy photo)

 

Given the recent snow dump and newly opened terrain at Telluride Ski Resort, it’s finally time to ski moguls.

Call it a case of good timing for Telski’s “Making Friends with Moguls” camp, which is now in its third season. The two-day camps are intended for mature, intermediate skiers, and will take place Feb. 10-11 and again on Feb. 27-28.

Co-instructor Larry Hopkins, 70, has been teaching at Telski for 34 years. He said the motivation for starting the camp came from the fact that he had a lot of friends and second-homeowners who live here who simply don’t ski the moguls. 

“They’re stuck on groomed runs,” Hopkins lamented. “And they always say, ‘I just can’t do it — I don’t like moguls.’ They don’t realize there’s a whole different side to the mountain that they’re missing. Telluride is a bump mountain and there are a lot of trails in the woods and glades, but to enjoy them, you have to be able to ski moguls.”

Hopkins pointed out that skiers often fear the moguls because they might have found themselves in a big mogul field by mistake.

“And they had a horrible time, fell a lot and maybe walked down with their ski gear,” Hopkins said. “Or their friends dragged them into a mogul field and said, ‘Oh, you can do this, this is easy.’”

Mogul camp co-instructor Richard Thorpe, 67, has taught at Telski for 18 years and was voted 2010 Colorado Ski Country Instructor of the Year.

“Most folks have never been taught the correct tactics and skills needed for moguls, so they just flail and become ‘linked recoveries,’” Thorpe said. “We’re on a mission to dispel fear of moguls and teach folks how to have fun and enjoyment in the bumps.”

Thorpe said the primary focus of the camp is to use balance, timing and tactics instead of brute strength in the bumps.

“As we age,” he explained, “muscle mass and flexibility diminish. That is why we use the above-noted focus.”

To that end, Hopkins and Thorpe teach a “retirement line” or, as Thorpe refers to it, a “geezer line,” instead of the “zipper line,” which is what younger skiers use, as Hopkins describes, when “they’re right down in the trough and just bang-bang-bang-bang straight down the hill.” 

“The retirement line,” Hopkins said, “is skiing the outside line, making the turn off the top of the bump and then letting the turn develop so that you end up where everybody else sprays snow, in the soft side, and you come around and you’re ready to make the next one. It’s the easy line.”

By skiing a smoother line, they reason, a mature skier doesn’t jar his or her knees; therefore, bump skiing is not the athletic event people make it out to be. 

Hopkins said that the camp starts out by demonstrating basic technique on the flats — like balance and short radius turns — so that skiers get their steering from the feet (vs. the hip socket). By reviewing the basics on groomers, participants don’t just plunge into the bumps immediately and flail. 

After a morning of skiing groomed runs, the group heads to the yurt off of Lower Butterfly for video analysis of demonstrated techniques.  

Once the group has a grip on the basics, they apply proper skills to mogul runs like Log Pile, Silver Tip, Palmyra and Dew Drop.  

“Our focus is on acquiring solid techniques and tactics that can be used on any mogul run,” Thorpe emphasized. 

Generally, ski groups are comprised of 50 percent second-homeowners and 50 percent visitors who specifically come to attend the moguls camps. Ideally, there are 15-20 participants in each camp, with a maximum of 25 participants, split into groups of three to five skiers with a ratio of two men to each woman. Participants’ ages range anywhere from mid-30s to early 70s.

Rick Berry, 66, of Hickory, North Carolina, attended the first moguls camp of the season last week. He heard about the camp from a friend who attended last year. Over the years, Berry attempted to ski bumps, but as he “matured,” he wanted to learn to ski bumps more confidently and efficiently, making it easier on his body.  

“The methods and technique taught (at the camp) are very effective in maneuvering through bump fields without being intimidated,” Berry said. “And much easier on the body and for stamina.”

Pricing for the two-day camp is $525 if the participant needs a lift ticket and $425 for those who already have one. 

For more information, contact Larry Hopkins at hopkins@hoptoasski@gmail.com.