Bumpin’ it Old School

By AlpineZone News |
Mar 25 2009 - 12:14 PM

WARREN, Vermont — When Dave Frendel entered both he and his son, Myles, in this year’s Sugarbush Spring Mogul Bash, the 12th annual 250-meter mogul race down a trail called The Cliffs, it wasn’t so they could both take first place in their respective categories. That was an unexpected bonus.

It was so a father, a former pro mogul skier and diehard enthusiast, could show his son, an emerging young talent, how things used to be done. 48 year-old Dave, who was a member of the US NorAm Freestyle team in the Eighties and part of the World Pro Mogul Tour from 1989 to 1998, described their decision to compete.

“The reason we picked this race is because the moguls are random and made by skiers, like in my day,” says the Mahwah, NJ, resident. “Myles had never raced on random bumps and wanted to try it.”

11 year-old Myles, who has been skiing since he was two and competing since he was seven, is part of the younger generation of bump skiers, the ones who have been raised on premade courses, sculpted to spec for symmetry and safety.

According to Dave, it is the last decade that has brought the biggest changes to the sport. In the Eighties, when he was competing, there were no premade courses with crafted jumps and landing pads like are standard today.

The difference, he says, is one of approach and timing. Today everyone has to ski the same lines, take the same turns and go up the same jumps. The run is predetermined. But on the random, old style courses, skiers have to pick their own lines while still being judged on the quality of their turns and jumps. The result, he says, is a higher demand for spontaneity.

“As I’m skiing down the course, all I’m thinking about is where I’m going to jump because it’s not set up for you,” says Dave. “So, boom! I have to pop up, throw a quick trick, land back in the moguls and keep going…That’s what the judges wanted to see in the old days.”

He concedes that mogul skiing’s evolution is progress, making it a safer environment to perform the complex tricks and aerials that are compulsory today.

“But the skill set I used–the spontaneity, the split-second creativity required by the randomness of the bumps–has been removed,” he says. “Myles wanted to know what that felt like. So I told him how to do it. And, I must say, he nailed it.”

Myles is not the only Frendel reaping the benefits of his father’s experience. Daughter Maxine Frendel, 14, is also a talent to watch. On the same weekend Myles and Dave both took first place at Sugarbush, Maxine was competing in the Junior Olympic National Moguls in Waterville Valley, NH. And the following week she took first place in the women’s division of “Bump or Bust III”, the annual mogul competition at Ski Sundown in New Hartford, Connecticut.

Whether they’re doing it old style or new, Dave gets a kick out of seeing his children turn on to the sport that has fueled his passion for so long now. And winning a race alongside his son? “Icing on the cake,” says Dave.