How To Carve Turns on a Snowboard

Carving is a technique that most Snowboarders will never need to master. For the vast
majority of circumstances and conditions that you’re going to encounter when you’re out
riding, the ‘traditional’ technique of side-slipping, or skidding, the board through a
turn works perfectly well. So why bother learning a difficult new maneuver? Well first
and foremost the very fact that it’s a difficult technique is going to help you improve
your control of the board. The extra edge control will be essential in initiating many
Freestyle maneuvers. Carving also enables you to maintain your speed through the turns
so if you’re into ‘boardercross’ this is the turn you need. And of course it looks super
cool – laying down one beautiful long track in the snow lets everyone know that you’ve
cracked it!

How to Carve on a Snowboard
Carving on a Snowboard

Carving utilizes the flexibility and shape, or ‘sidecut’, of the board to make the turn
– as you exert pressure onto the edge the board will naturally follow the curve of that
edge. And the key to mastering the Carve is knowing where to apply that pressure through
the different elements of the turn. You can break the turn down into three phases – the
initiation, the turn itself and the finish – and during each phase you’ll need to apply
different pressure to the board.

The 3 phases of the Carving turn
For the initiation of each turn you have to press hard on your front foot so that the
edge of the board will bite into the snow, and it will naturally start to carve into the
turn. It’s very important that you maintain your shoulders in the same axis as the
board.

Then, during the turn, you have to apply pressure equally on both feet so as to keep the
board stable and to handle the G-forces that are generated by your velocity.

And finally as you are finishing the turn, you have to press a bit harder on your rear
foot to accelerate the board and to increase the pressure on the edge so that the board
has a good grip in the snow and you’re set up and stable for the next turn.
It’s very important that you angulate your body and lean into the turn so that you don’t
get thrown off balance.

carving on a snowboard
Be sure to angulate when carving high speed turns

Finish the turn with your ankles flexed to increase even further the angle
between board and snow and thus increase the grip.

This tricky weight movement through the three phases of the turn combined with the
angulation and speed of the maneuver are what make carving so difficult to master, so
try to build the technique element by element. Choose an wide, empty medium graded piste
to practice on with well groomed packed powder. It needs to have sufficient steepness
that you can properly angulate the turn and because you’ll start with large turns you’ll
likely be using up the whole width of the run. Avoid icy conditions or fresh or soft
snow. Try to perfect the toe-side turn before moving onto the heel-side. Vary the
degrees of edging to vary the shape and speed of your turns.

And be sure to watch the Video – this is definitely one of those cases where a ‘picture’
is worth a thousand words!

Tips

    • Always keep your shoulders in the same axis as your board.
    • Practice on well-groomed compact snow.
    • When starting, get used to riding your edges rather than side-sliding by simply
      traversing on each edge.
    • Check your boot/binding set up – if you have toe or heel overhang you won’t be
      able to carve.
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