Once you have mastered the parallel and short turns without any problems and can now whizz down any mountain, be it a red or black slope, it is time to learn to carve when skiing. You can try to do this yourself or – even better and more long-lasting – learn how to do it at a carving course with a qualified ski instructor and ski school.
Carving not only looks stylish, but it is also very exciting! Carving means that you stand on the edge much more than you are used to and therefore cut the turns without sliding. It’s all about doing the perfect curves, with cutting turns that maximise the fun of skiing on the groomed slope.
Before the invention of circular sidecuts on skis, the carving turn for high-speed turns was reserved for professionals and very good skiers. Today, the new modern carving skiing technique enables even advanced skiers to cut turns elegantly without drifting on the edges of their skis, enjoying the carving experience. The ski will turn much easier due to the enormously narrower centre than the front and tailpieces.
Nevertheless, the correct carving technique should be learned. Simply putting weight on the edges is not enough. Even the best carving ski instructor won’t make a master out of you if you don’t know how to make the most important movements and get the best out of them. So, here are some tips to improve your carving before a ski lesson, or to help you along the way.
What are your carving tools? What you need to practise for this technique is carving skis and a moderately tricky slope that is in good shape piste wise. It would be best if you also had strength and stamina, as you need to use your muscles in a more targeted way than with normal skiing. With our most important tips for learning to carve, you will catapult your skiing experience to unimagined heights (not only on three-thousand-metre peaks).
- Your starting position for carving
When carving, you adopt a slightly different skiing position than you are used to. Whereas you used to hold your skis about hip-width, you now hold them shoulder-width. This allows you the possibility to work your legs and, especially your knees, harder.
The rest of the best-practice ski position remains the same. The knees and ankles are slightly bent, and you press your shins against the ski boot. The hand and arm position also remain about ten centimetres in front of your upper body.
- Your footwork during carving
The position and use of your legs is the most crucial thing when carving. When you enter the turn, you press on the inside edge of the outside ski (bottom ski) and shift your body weight forward. This is where your muscles come into play, as you need to actively apply pressure to the skis.
When carving, you start edging up much earlier than in a normal parallel turn. You achieve this by leaning your entire body towards the centre of the turn. You go even more into your knees and push them against the hill. Imagine you are riding a motorbike, and you are leaning into the curves.
Press your pelvis down as far as possible, increasing the pressure. In doing so, you load both skis, but the downhill ski is loaded a little more than the uphill ski. The load on both legs when carving makes you go faster in the turns while maintaining your stability.
- Your bodywork when carving
When learning to ski and practising a parallel turn, it has been drilled into your head that you always have to make an up and down movement in the turns. This is not the case when carving.
The main bodywork in the carving technique is to always keep your body centrally above the skis. You merely balance the terrain via your foot, knee, and hip joints without making any noticeable up and down movements.
Your upper body always remains more or less in the same position, except that you lean into the turn as you would when riding a motorbike. All the work is done from the hips.
In summary, it means you have a slightly wider ski grip than before; you shift your body weight forward more and lean into the turn. You exert strong pressure on the inner edge of the outer ski (downhill ski) as early as possible by pressing your knees against the mountain. However, you still put pressure on both skis, and your upper body always remains at the same height, i.e. no high-low movements.
- Exercises to help you learn the carving technique
For this exercise, leave your ski poles for the time being. Find a slope of medium difficulty to learn to carve. Ski parallel to the slope, not picking up too much speed yet so that you can concentrate on your posture.
- Place your hands on your knees and push them towards the uphill side while skiing
- Keep your legs shoulder-width apart and shift 60 per cent of your weight onto the downhill ski
- Make sure that you do not slide while doing this
- With this exercise, you’ll notice that you automatically go up the hill when the edge grips by pushing your knees against the hill. If you do the exercise properly, you won’t slide on the snow while doing it. You can control it by looking at your line of travel.
Repeat this exercise until you don’t slip any more! Once you have got the hang of that, try it again, but this time, don’t ride parallel to the slope, but downhill
- Hold the same position as in the first exercise variation, but now try to do it with more speed
- If you manage this, take your hands off your knees.
- Try to perform the knee movement, thus building pressure on the inner edge of the outer ski, without the help of your hands and lean your body towards the mountain
- Next, try the same thing, but with your poles
You will quickly realise that when you carve correctly, the increased pressure and “putting in the turn” will allow you to pick up more speed while still making many turns. This is what turns on the edge are all about!
If after mastering carving you’d like to try something else, we have put together the best tips for freeriding.