Ski | Mar 5, 2022

How to master the carving technique

ROSSIGNOL
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You’re watching in awe every time someone executes a perfect carving turn on the slopes next to you? Well, why not try it yourself?

If you think the carving technique is only something for the pros, you’re wrong. With a bit of practice and a few tips and tricks (like those coming up in this article), everyone can master this popular skiing technique.

Together with the ski experts of Rossignol, we have drawn up some dos and don’ts for learning how to carve. And who knows: Next time it might be you who will leave your fellow skiers staring in awe.

What is carving?

Let’s start at the beginning: Simply put, carving means to move back and forth across the slope in parallel, S-shaped tracks. This movement is generated by the edges of your skis cutting into the snow in a slight arc. The skis follow the edges, letting you complete a turn. Carving turns are quite similar to parallel turns, except for the fact that your skis don’t slide sideways. 

Compared to other techniques, carving is extremely efficient and versatile because …

  • … you get almost no resistance from the snow.
  • … you waste the least amount of energy.
  • … you get the largest reaction force from the snow.
  • … it is the quickest way down the mountain.

By the way: The curved path of your ski edges will determine how big or small your turn will be. However, the radius stated on your carving skis plays an important role as your skis will generally stay closer to this radius. This means that slalom skis are better for smaller turns, while giant slalom or super-g skis are recommended for bigger turns.

Our top picks: If you’re looking for good-quality beginner carving skis, we recommend Rossignol’s Nova 6 (Xpress) for women and React R6 Compact (Xpress) for men. More advanced skiers will love the React 10 Ti (Konect) for men or the Nova 14 Ti (Konect) for women.

© Rossignol / Louis Garnier

What are the best conditions for carving?

Carving ski turns are possible in most conditions, but keep in mind the following:

  • The snow should be soft enough for your edges to have grip but hard enough to hold the sideways forces.
  • Icy conditions make it harder for your edges to cut into the snow. 
  • Wide, smooth slopes that are not too steep are best for carving.

Come prepared: The sharper the edges of your skis, the easier they will dig into the snow! That’s why you should make sure to sharpen your ski edges before your first attempts at carving – or, even easier, have them serviced by the experts at INTERSPORT Rent!

Carving turns – how do I get started?

Learning how to carve is not rocket science. However, it takes a bit of effort and practice to get it right. To get started, keep in mind the following:

© Rossignol / Louis Garnier
© Rossignol / Louis Garnier

1. The right stance

  • skis: shoulder-width apart and parallel
  • shins: pressed forward into your boots
  • knees: slightly bent 
  • hands: facing forward
  • upper body: upright and facing forward
  • shoulders: brought flat to the direction of the skis
  • weight: on the middle of the outside ski

2. The first turn

  • Start on a gentle, groomed slope. It should be steep enough for you to get some momentum but flat enough for you to go straight downhill without too much speed.
  • Get comfortable in your stance, get some speed and initiate your first turn (in this case, a left).
  • Lean your ski edges on their left using your ankles.
  • Bend your knees and swing them out to the left.
  • Make sure your knees bend over enough to keep your edges from sliding. 
  • Bring your thighs slightly towards the centre.
  • Slightly lean your upper body into the turn, while keeping it centred.
  • Follow the curved path your ski edges create when engaging with the snow.

3. The turn back

  • When perpendicular to the fall line, extend your legs.
  • Pull your knees back under you.
  • Return the skis to a flattened position with your ankles, for a moment coming back to your starting stance.
  • Lean your ankles to the right to rock your skis from edge to edge.
  • Keep your upper body centre-right and swing your bent knees outward to bring your edges to the right.
  • Finish the turn by extending your legs and pulling your knees back to the centre.
© Rossignol / Matt Georges

The dos and don’ts of carving

Do …

  • … keep your knees bent while your skis are on edge!
  • … keep your hands forward!
  • … keep your upper body straight, with your chest and shoulders facing towards the slope!
  • … extend your legs when your skis come flat!
  • … put most of the pressure on the outside ski during a turn!
  • … keep pressure on the front of your skis!
  • … keep your weight forward throughout the turn!

Don’t …

  • … lean back too far!
  • … follow the direction of your skis with your upper body at the end of the turn!
  • … lift the inside ski off the snow, even though it is unweighted!
  • … try to rotate the ski!
  • … rush your turns!
  • … try to carve in every situation – there are some situations where carving is not the most efficient technique (e.g. on mogul fields or technical steeps)!

INTERSPORT Rent tip

Are you ready to take on your first carved turns? Or are you already an expert carver, swooshing down the mountain in perfect railroad tracks? Either way, you will need the right equipment to make the most of your day in the snow.

At INTERSPORT Rent, you can find a large selection of carving skis by leading brands for rent at a great price. Our RENTertainers on site will support you in finding the best products for your needs – whether you’re a carving newbie or a seasoned expert. On top, we also have first-rate accessories and ski clothing to go with your new rental carvers – just drop in!

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