NYSEF is made up of many snowsports with our largest contingent starting with Alpine Skiing, next is Nordic Skiing and last but not least is Freeride (freestyle skiing and snowboarding). Under Freeride there are several competitions to choose from: Slopestyle, Rail Jam, Big Air, Boarder Cross, Skier Cross, Snowboard GS and SL and Moguls.
Moguls has consistently been our smallest contingent within freeride but their scoring system and sport are by far the most complicated and intense. Athletes go down a steep course through bumps and land 2 different jumps while being timed. They find a way to look as graceful as possible while being judged at the same time.
Why graceful? They are graded on their turns in the bumps (60%) which includes but not limited to: keeping knees together, not bobbing head, and keeping your body as tight as possible. There are also 2 jumps with different degrees of amplitude and difficulty (20%). Although there are some limitations to the type of trick you perform, the tricks, in general, are always advancing so it is important for officials, coaches and athletes to remain relevant and updated on these changes. Finally, their speed (20%), how fast they can make it down the course. These scores are populated into an advanced system that creates their score. The turns in the bumps and the 2 jumps are scored by 3 qualified judges who are typically sitting in an elevated building for the best view at the finish.
How does someone get into this sport? Nick Arnold, NYSEF Moguls Coach and former NYSEF athlete commented, “I got into the sport because I had friends in the program and it was fun spending time with a group and competing.” Nick travels with the ‘A’ Moguls team, who are the more experienced athletes that are trying to qualify for national events. Nick was a NYSEF athlete from 2001-2005 and this is his 9th season with NYSEF. The ‘A’ Moguls team have a busy travel season. So far in 2020, they have been to competitions at Bristol, Sunday River, Stratton, Killington, and Waterville Valley, aside from their home competition as well. The team competes in the Eastern division, one of the most competitive divisions in Freestyle Moguls.
Mike Lynn, NYSEF Moguls Coach, travels mostly with the ‘B’ Moguls team. The ‘B’ team is typically the younger athletes is an entry-level series. The ‘B’ Moguls team is part of the Central Division and competes in both New York and Vermont. Mike has been coaching for 17 years and got involved when his son was skiing at NYSEF. He continues to coach because “it is simple, I love the sport,” he said.
The NYSEF team (the ‘A’ and ‘B’ team) are lucky to train in a region where snowsport opportunities are within reach throughout the year. They athletes have the opportunity to train year round and do special dryland programs throughout the season. At Whiteface, the moguls course is located on Wilderness and is one of the most demanding courses in the east which makes it an ideal venue to train. Athletes can average 10-12 runs a session with video feedback to make the most out of their training. Also, athletes have access to the Lake Placid Training Center and are able to practice their jumps on the trampolines in the gym throughout the year and in the winter season. When the weather warms up, training is moved to the Lake Placid Ski Jumping Complex where they are able to use the pool ramps and the outside trampolines to further their skill.
This seems like a Moguls skiers paradise, right? Max Oechsner, NYSEF athlete who is currently attending Northwood School was looking for “a ski program with a great venue, qualified coaching staff and a good atmosphere.” In 2018, Max started in the NYSEF Winter Term Program–which allows aspiring student-athletes like Max the opportunity to pursue their athletics at an advanced level while continuing remotely in their home school’s academic curricula in a cost effective way. There are several opportunities in the north east to be a part of a boarding school or winter program that supports a skiing schedule but what set NYSEF was “the overall environment and one-on-one support,” said Max. In the Winter Term Program, Max was able to “train so much and be around Olympians and other competitive athletes daily.” Max added, “it is easy to stay motivated because everyone is dedicated to their sport at a high level.” From his experience, the NYSEF Moguls program has been a “wonderful experience, you are around talented athletes, the mountain is some of the best terrain in the north east and you get to train year round.”
To learn more about the NYSEF Moguls Programs, visit nysef.org/freeride.