Experienced skiers know that there are efficient and non-efficient ways to move down the mountain. The more you become a part of the slope you’re skiing down rather than resisting it, the easier the sport becomes. While there are many subtle technique tips that can help you achieve better overall form, one of the keys to advancing is learning how to carve when you’re turning.
What is Carve Turning?
Carve turning is one of the most effective and efficient ways to ski down a slope. If you’ve ever watched an experienced skier move effortlessly across a mountain, making equal turns at high speeds, they are utilizing the carve style of turning. You can recognize the look of carving by the classic S shape of a skier’s turns. These S turns can be broad, narrow, or anything in between.
A carved turn means that you’re using the outside edge of your skis to maintain control at all times. You don’t skid, wedge, or traverse when you’re carve turning. Instead, you keep your skis parallel and maintain a constant turning technique that allows you to remain in control of your skis no matter how fast you go or what terrain you cover.
With carve turning, your skis will literally tip from edge to edge as you move. As you dig the outside edge of your skis into the snow during a turn, the power generated by your feet and legs will lift the opposite edge off of the snow. This is another telltale sign of carve turning that you can watch for if you’re trying to learn the technique.
How to Carve
One of the first things to think about when learning how to carve is your ski edges are going to slightly change direction before you actually start to turn. This initiates the carve turn and allows for very efficient use of movement. Your skis are going to move the rest of your body when you carve rather than your body forcing your skis into a turn. That is incredibly important when it comes to saving energy.
The shift from using your skis to initiate the turn is easy to describe but it does take some getting used to on the slopes. Keep in mind that it might take a while for you to get used to this new technique before you can take it to the next level. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t pick it up right away. With enough practice you will get there.
Your Body Controls Your Edges
The first tip mentioned above is that your edges will begin to initiate a carve turn before you actually start to turn on the snow. To achieve this edge control, you need to focus on what your body’s doing.
To change your edges, gently roll your lower body in the direction of the upcoming turn before you actually make the turn. Start by focusing the rolling movement into your hips, knees, and ankles. That will create enough force to allow you to dig your edges into the snow. Your upper body will naturally move in the opposite direction of where your lower body rolls. That’s what you’re going for, even though it might seem weird when you’re reading this.
If you don’t roll your lower body to dig your edges in before making the turn you will most likely skid turn instead of carve turn. That will happen from time to time while you’re getting the hang of it. However, you will improve as you continue to practice.
One easy way to get a feel for the edge control is to ski without poles and place your hands on your knees. That technique, though a bit unorthodox, is a great way to learn the initial feel of carve turning. If you have ever taken an intermediate level ski lesson, your instructor probably ran you through the drill.
When you’re starting your carve turn, place your hands on your knees. As you begin your turn, push your knees in the direction of the upcoming shift. That will exaggerate the feel, but in a way that gives you the edge control necessary to begin carving. It will also force you to achieve the tipping of your skis with both feet, which is crucial to perfecting the carve turn.
Putting It All Together
As you learn the body control needed to carve ski, you will be able to recognize the difference between a good carve turn and a skid turn. Though you may start out doing both, you will be able to hit both as you need.
When first starting out, try skiing without poles with your hands on your knees, as described above. Once you feel comfortable with the proper edge control and ski tipping that results in a good carve turn, pick your poles back up and try to ski more regularly. Keep a focus on rolling into your turns while also keeping your knees bent and fully engaged.
As you get the hang of carve turning, you will be able to hit many turns in a row. That is a good goal to aim for because one good carve turn does not actually mean you have a hang of the entire process. You need to be able to make the turns over and over again.
The better you get with this technique, the more you will realize that it’s an easier way to ski. Carve skiing is an efficient turning style because you use far less energy to make your turns than you do with other turning techniques. Beginners skiers are often worn out after a few runs because they are, in a way, constantly resisting the force of gravity pulling them downhill.
By learning how to carve turn, you can become more in sync with the natural forces on the mountain. This means that it will take far less effort and energy to complete your turns. Learning how to carve will improve your abilities, but it can also help you enjoy skiing just a little bit more.
Do you know how to carve turn? Do you have any tips or tricks for other skiers? Let us know in the comments below!