Many snowboarders enjoy carving turns. This riding style makes you look much more advanced.
Personally, I love carving turns so much!
I like cruising down slopes with carving turns, especially on the first groomed run in the morning.
Carving helps you glide through slopes with lots of speed. This technique is also effective while going on jumps or halfpipes. It is an important skill for snowboarders.
Here are five-step exercises to help you learn to carve:
Let’s get started!
Writing this article wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for my friend, Sigmund Chan (CASI Level 3 Instructor).
- What is the difference between carving and sliding ?
- Choose a gentle slope that is easy to practice on!
- Good posture for better snowboarding
- STEP 1: How can you adjust the edge angle you need for a carving turn?
- STEP 2: Let’s traverse and get a feeling of strong edging
- STEP 3 Think about the side-cut on the J-turn
- STEP 4 Learning the downhill edging for the C-turn
- STEP 5 Carved turn completed
- Optimal position to change from one edge to the other edge
- Carving Exercise
What is the difference between carving and sliding ?
How do we know if your turn is “carving” or “sliding” ?
Look at your track marks, if the slip marks are thin like a line, it’s carving. A sliding turn will leave a crescent moon track in the snow.
Another way to tell is by looking at the photos below. By creating a spray with the turn, it’s clearly visible that the turn is skidded; however, by looking at the carving turn, notice how no spray is given off.
Also, If it’s a carving turn, the skidding sound in almost nonexistent.
Skidding turns makes a scraping noise.
Choose a gentle slope that is easy to practice on!
The carving turn has the image of an advanced turn.
However, if you are going to make a carving turn, what kind of slope you choose is important.
The slopes I would like to recommend most are gentle slopes, not intermediate slopes or even advanced slope.
Find a quiet area, a place with good snow conditions, and preferably the best groomed conditions in the morning.
Good posture for better snowboarding
If you are trying to make a carving turn, you may already know how you stand on the board. However, I didn’t convey the correct stance in SnowboardTips.net, so I’ll tell you here, because a good posture is beneficial for all types of riding!
I will be explaining a few steps to help you achieve a smoother and controlled ride.
First, stand right above the board.
Next, turn towards where you want to go, your neck should be twisting to see where you’re going.
This image is Yakitori(Chicken Kebab).
If you pretend to have your head on the skewer as if you were a part of a chicken skewer, you will have a nice center of balance. This fixed posture will make your transitions much smoother.
After following these steps, we’ve now come to the neutral position; however, there is still more to add on. Bringing attention to your arms now, try spreading out both arms to line up with your waist. This will help with balance.
If you slightly raise your arms, like in the image above, this will help with balance; however, if you raise them too high, it can make you feel more unbalanced so it’s important to find that good in-between position.
Make sure to relax your upper body while bracing your lower half of the body.
A great balancing practice could be to keep your hands in your pockets while riding. Make sure to be careful if you try this!
Another tip is to turn your upper body slightly facing forward.
There are certain angles your front binding sits at. Most people would think that the binding would be facing directly in-front of you; however, the front binding actually sits at a slight angle facing towards the nose of the board. Twist your hips towards where your first foot is angled. This slight motion will further improve your balance.
In the pictures shown above, technically, both positions are correct. However, I recommend to try out the second position as it gives you more balance, especially when you have accumulated a lot of speed. If you try out this position you have to be very careful to not over twist. Using the twist posture in the upper body is super helpful, but also make sure you’re bending your knees or else you will end up steering towards where you wouldn’t want to go.
This basic posture can be practiced in front of the mirror in the comfort of your home. Please give it a try!
STEP 1: How can you adjust the edge angle you need for a carving turn?
The first step to making a carving turn begins with understanding how you can adjust your angle of the board, i.e. on your heel side, you can fine tune your edge angle using your ankles.
If you are in the house or office,
① Please relax and sit in a chair first.
② Then lift up your toe and you can edge on the heel side.
③ Press the heel against the ground.
Now you have more powerful edging on the heel side.
Let’s do it on both on the heel side and the toe side while standing.
①First, use a chair to balance yourself, raise your toes and lean your back.
You can start edging just by doing this.
However, this is slightly unstable.
② So try to push your heels against the ground with your knees bent while keep your toes up.
Next, let’s do the same with your toes.
①Lean your body to the side and lift up your heels.
②It is unstable if you just tilt down, so bend your knees and ankles firmly. The point is to make it feel like you’re pressing your shins towards the snow.
More angle = More carving turn!
In order to make a carving turn, it is necessary to have more edge angle for the snowboard.
If the edge angle is low, it is difficult to make a carving turn. Try to increase the angle to make a carving turn.
In this step, please make sure you understand what you need for carving and how to angle the board to achieve a carving turn. Then let’s go to the next step!
STEP 2: Let’s traverse and get a feeling of strong edging
In order to traverse you need to go a little downhill in order to accumulate speed, then begin to traverse across the slope.
Note: Be sure to check for skiers and snowboarders coming from above before going traversing.
①First, gain speed by going down the slope.
②Lift your toes towards your chest to get a strong heel side edge. Don’t forget to bend your knees and keep your body upright.
③Look in the direction you want to go.
④At the end, aim for the side of the run, like you’re about to go back up the slope slightly.
A common mistake is to have your hips back and the upper body leaning forward. You want your upper body straight like the blue line in the image below.
Now let’s traverse on the toe side!
1) Your body might lean inward and easily fall onto the slope, make sure to keep your upper body upright.
This upward leaning posture (angulation) stabilizes the turn.
2) Push the knees closer towards the snow and make sure to bend your ankles as well.
By doing this, the knees and ankles will bend firmly, and the edging required for carving will come more easily.
STEP 3 Think about the side-cut on the J-turn
Once you can draw a pencil line on the traverse, it is time to try the J-turn.
In order to make a J-turn, you need to think about the side-cut on the board. The side-cut on a snowboard is essentially the curve along the side of the board. Every snowboard has an arc along the side and this is known as the side-cut.
Snowboards have side-cuts that allow you to turn with a little edging and weight.
On carving turns, patience while holding down the edge is important (do not rush your turns).
When you try J-turns, gradually point your board down the mountain so you can increase your speed. Ultimately, we aim for a turn arc that allows us to draw a J-shape.
The technique required for improving your carving turns.
Please check the following video to help you get a better understanding of the J-turn.
STEP 4 Learning the downhill edging for the C-turn
Edging on the downhill side is important for a complete carving turn. To do a smooth edge transition , practice for edging on the downhill side is important.
In my experience of being a snowboard instructor, for many people, this transition doesn’t work too well and they aren’t able to make a good carving turn.
In other words, edge transitions are the key to a successful carving turn!
A major cause of poor transitions is the inability to move from edge to edge while the board is moving.
Downhill edge is when the edge of the board is not on the uphill side but on the downhill side. See the photo below for reference.
You may be wondering, “How do I not fall while doing this?”.
It is definitely a trust exercise to be able to perform this; however, the more you practice it, the more you will see that with the right amount of edging and speed, it just so happens that you never end up falling. The board will always be running in your direction of travel.
This downhill edge is the key to a complete carving turn.
For the image below, I finish my toe side turn, then I transition to a flat base, and then I begin my heel side turn by starting on my downhill edge.
Catching an edge, however, can be quite scary as it is a sudden fall if we do not have enough speed. This would leave you with a painful fall.
On the carving turn, the board runs in the direction of travel, so it’s okay to tilt the board onto the downhill side.
On the sliding turn, the board is going downwards, so as soon as you get on the downhill edge, it makes sense that you may fall down.
Learn from your mistakes, know that if you are going in the direction of a carving turn, the chances are you won’t fall over. Once you have made a good transition, you know you have completed the carving turn.
As you get used to it, you will feel more comfortable.
I find it most enjoyable when carving on the downhill edge after the edge switch.
After reading this section, you might want to head up the slopes to practice your carving turns, but don’t rush. First, keep practicing your C-turns before you start on S-turns (linked turns).
If you focus on one turn (C-turn), you will get a better understanding of downhill edging.
Toe to heel
When you approach the turn, keep up your speed on the toe side and look across the hill. When you need to change your edge, switch smoothly by looking in the direction you want to go.
Heel to toe
First, keep up your speed on the heel side. When you change the edge take your time. Don’t look into the turn too quickly. I have seen many students looking into the turn too early. You need to be patient. Remember? Snowboards have side-cuts, without steering the snowboard will turn due to the sidecut.
STEP 5 Carved turn completed
Finally the last step! Let’s try a carving turn!!! I would like to tell you where you need to transition edge to edge.
Optimal position to change from one edge to the other edge
The edge transition should be in the middle of your S. Most people tend to change their edges slightly too late and start at the “X” instead of the “yellow circle” like the image below. Make sure to change it right in the center line.
If you understand what we’ve introduced so far, now you can start on a carving turn. Just do it!
First, let’s make a big turn.
Do not force the steering, use the side-cut of the snowboard to turn.
Once you get used to it, increase your edging and put more pressure on the edges to enjoy the carving turn.
If you can make a carving turn, please also refer to the following exercises. The quality of your carving turns will be improved.
Carving Exercise 1 – Traverse Jump (Improvement of edging)
Let’s jump while traversing to enhance the edging and balance required for carving! If you can’t jump well while on an edge, it’s possible that you’re in a bad posture or you’re not edging well.
Traverse Jump heel side
Jumping on the heel side is quite difficult.
Humans are not accustomed to standing on their heels.
The key is to keep your back as straight as possible and keep your head level.
Be careful not to stick your hips out.
A small jump is OK. Or you don’t have to jump, just make a up and down motion.
Once you get used to it, practice so that you can jump higher gradually.
Be careful not to hit someone who’s riding from above while doing this exercise.
Traverse Jump toe side
It is easier to jump on the toe side than on the heel side.
Keep your back straight, and try to keep your head level.
Keep your upper body upright, then you will get strong edging when you jump.
This exercise uses more physical strength than you think, but it also develops the core muscle strength needed for carving turns.
Let’s try it when you go up to the mountain.
Exercise 2 – Jump when you are stationary on the side of the slope (Improvement of edging)
It is quite difficult to practice jumping when you are stationary.
Jumping on the heel side is a good practice technique because it is difficult to keep your balance.
It will also help strengthen the edging needed on the heel side.
On the toe side, you can feel stronger edging than on the heel side.
Pay attention to keep your upper body upright as your body tends to fall to the mountain side if you lean forward into the snow.
Exercise 3 – Carving Turn Key Downhill Edge Experience when you do Inverse Traverse turns (Improvement of edging ,downhill side)
Inverse Traverse is a practice drill for how to quickly learn to use the downhill edge. From traverse, flatten the board at the transition point and then engage the downhill edge. If you turn as it is, it will be scary and difficult if you are not used to it, so it is a practice method to switch to the uphill side edge again immediately.
If you can make a carving turn, you can experience a more enjoyable world of snowboarding.