PERHAPS the most intriguing visual curiosity of the current Olympic Winter Games has been the course used for the now-completed moguls ski competition in Tignes. Side-lit by the sun, it produced an op-art effect.
"People may have wondered if those were hay bales under there," says American moguls skier Nelson Carmichael, who won the bronze medal in the men's event. He explains that there are no hidden tricks to creating the mounds that look as if they have been shaped by a huge egg carton pressed into the snow.
In this case, they were formed by machinery that piled the snow in offsetting rows. Normally, however, moguls are not built up, but carved down. "People who ski know that there are moguls at any ski resort," Mr. Carmichael says. "They are formed by skiers turning in the same places over and over, carving out snow, pushing it on top of the mogul."
And what's it like to ski moguls? "It's a real rhythmic feeling, sort of like hopping down stairs, going from side to side, except it's almost like the stairs were pushing you back," he says.