Is your parallel skiing feeling easy and fluid? Then you’re ready to learn how to carve on skis and really utilise those edges. Read this article to master the theory behind executing carving turns on your skis and progress your skiing technique.
Once you start feeling confident on your parallel turns, you will inevitably feel the drive to pick up speed and lean into your turns. The next big step will be learning how to carve on skis, which will be a technique you will take through your skiing progression. Learning the foundations of this may seem a little daunting because you have to trust yourself to use your skis edges and face down the mountain, but get the solid foundations in place, and you will be flying.
Mastering the carve is about technique and style. To complement your carving skills, consider upgrading your ski wardrobe. At Ridestore, you can find the perfect balance of comfort and style with our men's ski bibs. Similarly, our line of women's salopettes ensures you stay chic and functional on the slopes. With the right gear, you can conquer the mountains while looking your best.
Carving is a ski technique that uses the ski edges to turn, with the back of the ski following a straight line behind the tip. There is no sliding or jumping but a smooth glide through the snow to maintain speed and turn efficiently. You will see the tracks behind someone carving, which are perfect ‘S’ shape straight down the slope.
Like always when skiing, never forget your stance of your shins leaning forward into your boots, legs bent, upper body leaning slightly forward too. Legs are parallel and shoulder-width apart. The key for carving is always having your torso facing down the mountain and letting your hips and legs do all the work.
Carving is not appropriate in all types of conditions; it should be used when the conditions are pretty much perfect. Hard, freshly groomed slopes are ideal for carving and picking up some serious speed. Avoid carving on icy slopes, moguls, or powder.
Just like the conditions, you shouldn’t carve on all types of pistes. You should be practising your carving skills on wide pistes, that are long enough so you can get a few long and swooping turns in. The pistes should also not be too steep, in Europe, the greens and blues are ideal, as anything steeper means you may pick up too much speed.
You’ve found the perfect piste in the right conditions for carving, so now it's time to put ski to snow and practice this fundamental skiing technique. We will break it down step by step:
To do this, lean your ankles towards the one side you want to turn (e.g. to the left for a left turn). Your ski edges will follow and allow your knees to swing to that side too, and that's it, your skis are in the right position.
With the skis on their edge they will engage with the snow and pull you round into a long curved path to the one side. If you lean into the edges of the skis enough, you will create a sort of semi-circle.
Make sure you have enough speed to maintain momentum when entering the long curved path, so you can ease into your next turn.
Once you have become horizontal across the piste, extend your legs and pull your knees and ankles back into a flat position. You will feel yourself begin to pull out of the turn and be ready for the next one.
Once you’re back into your start position, you are ready to then lean your ankles and knees to the other side, so your skis lean over to the other edge and begin the next turn. After a few practice turns on each side, you can work on a smooth transition, rocking your ankles, knees and ski edges from one side to the other. To control your speed you should put more turns in and utilise the width of the piste, but to pick up speed, lean into your edges more aggressively and make the turns longer and less frequent.
If your feet and skis are too close together, you risk your skis crossing at the tip or generally losing balance. Try to be at least hip or shoulder-width apart for a solid foundation.
Carving is a great technique to gather some serious speed on the pistes, but as a new carver, you may feel out of control with this sudden burst. Make sure you control your speed to the point where you feel confident.
Carving should be used when on a long and wide piste with a gentle gradient, anything too steep and you will risk picking up too much speed.
If your skis are not parallel then you won’t have a smooth turn and will struggle to do a true carving technique. Always follow a railway track stance.
You should always have your legs slightly bent, with your shins leaning into the front of your boots, with all of your weight shifted slightly forward. Like most of the common mistakes, ensuring you have good balance and control of your skis is essential and leaning forward will help with this.
In what type of conditions is carving most effective?
Carving works best under perfect conditions. Hard, freshly groomed slopes are ideal for carving. Icy slopes, moguls, or powder are less suitable environments.
What is the best type of ski for carving?
The best type of skis for carving are usually those designed specifically for the task. These have typically a narrower waist and wider tip and tail, to enable sharper, faster turns. A carving ski should have good edge grip and stability due to its sidecut and camber. However, the "best" ski can largely depend on one's personal comfort, skill level, snow conditions, and skiing style. Consulting a specialist or ski shop can provide personalized advice.
There you have the fundamentals on how to carve on skis, so you can progress to an advanced technique of skiing, that makes you look like a pro. Get the basics right and practice on a long, wide and gentle slope, and trust us, you will be up on those edges, weaving your way down in no time. Top tip: Once you’re at the bottom, make sure to look back up at your line, and pat yourself on the back for an expertly carved ‘S’, just like a work of art.