What is Carving on Skis? | New To Ski (2022)

by Simon Knott |Updated On:February 4th, 2022

What is Carving on Skis? | New To Ski (2)

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Some guys seem to make clean, fast corners without any effort. How do they do that? It’s like their skis are attached to rails. That’s why those turns are carved, slicing down into the snow for stability.

As the technology of skis improved for competitive downhill skiers it was discovered that by manufacturing skis with a sidecut or slimmer waist the skis would corner more effectively. The skier’s weight flexes the entire edge of the ski into the snow, which makes the ski into an arc shape, which then defines the curve of the turn. Carved turns are only made on the edges of the skis and there is no skidding as in parallel turning. With less friction, the skier goes faster but can still maintain control with more frequent and tighter turns.

Table of Contents

(Video) Carving - How to Carve on Skis - Advanced Ski Lesson #6.2

Introduction to Carving

The progress of any technology rarely occurs in a smooth curve and the same can be said for ski technology. Often existing wisdom persists until an inventor thinks in a radically new way and creates a quantum leap forward. Ski technology started to progress faster from the 60s onward. Skiing was growing as a mainstream recreation and so manufacturers could afford to spend more on research and development to keep ahead of the competition. Ski racing has always been at the cutting edge of skiing technology and most of the innovations for mainstream skiing have been ideas transferred from racing.

In the mid-60s, the first fully plastic ski boots were a game-changer. They are attached to the ski securely and the metal-levered buckles ensured the foot and ankle were restrained. In comparison to leather boots, the plastic boot enabled the skier to transfer power much more effectively through his legs to the skis and maintain better control too. At the same time the safety mechanism, which allowed the boot to break away from the ski in the event of an accident saved many broken ankles.

See also 9 Ways Prepare for High Altitude Skiing

Ski brakes were another safety innovation of the 70s that quickly stopped skis that had been lost in a fall. While in 1979, standardization in the form of German DIN standards created a level playing field where any supplier in the world will understand what you are looking for.

History of Carving including Ski Development

What is Carving on Skis? | New To Ski (3)

In the late 80s, snowboarding achieved mainstream appeal and it became obvious to experienced skiers just how easy it was to execute perfectly carved turns on a snowboard without skidding the edge round. The time was ripe for the technology to be transferred to skis.

At around the same time engineers at the manufacturer, Elan Skis of Slovenia, experimented with giant-slalom racers’ skis. They found that by cutting deeper side cuts into each ski they could achieve a much tighter and more fluid turning radius. The shape of the ski became vital, and the degree of the side cut governs the curvature of the ski.

(Video) An Introduction to Carving - WSSA Ski Techniques and Tactics

With further innovation, the engineers added a wide shoulder and tail. At first, this new design got some funny, looks but the performance on the runs soon wiped the smiles off their faces. The SCX (Side Cut Extreme) was born, and now most downhill skis carry a similar profile.

So, what exactly is Carving?

Normally when you make a parallel turn there is some element of skidding as the rear of the skis breaks away and pushes snow out of the way. This isn’t a particularly efficient way of cornering, and it will slow your progress.

With carving the ski edges cut firmly into the snow from top to tail and the skis don’t skid at all. Consequently, your speed won’t be reduced as much as with a parallel turn, and you maintain better control. As pressure is applied to the skis they bend and even the thinner, middle, side cut section of the ski cuts into the snow. This forms the skis into a neat arc shape, which helps to cleanly finish the turn.

See also Do Ski Boots Run Small? True to Size
(Video) HOW TO CARVE ON SKIS | FIXING 3 ADVANCED COMMON MISTAKES

With carving, it can be helpful to imagine the skis are on rails, where they follow a smooth turn without breaking away from the snow at any point. In fact, if you look at the snow after a skier has carved past, you will see the tracks in the snow looking as if something on rails has gone past.

Little energy is wasted in a carved turn, partly because only a small section of the ski is in contact with the snow and additionally no snow needs to be physically pushed out of the way, which causes frictional resistance and consequential lost momentum. Competitive skiers routinely use carved turns because they are easy to control, and you lose little speed during execution. If you watch someone carving you will see that no snow is thrown up during each turn.

The Techniques of Carving and How it Works

Initiating a carve turn is best done when you are facing straight downhill. In this position, you will have more momentum to carry the turn through once started. If you are starting a left turn you must roll your knees to the left to force your skis up onto the left edges (vice versa for a right turn). It is the edges of the skis that create the turn. If you can feel your skis sliding over the surface of the snow, then you are not leaning over far enough.

  • Following the Carve Turn through

Once you are underway in the turn you will see the full length of your skis’ edges are engaged with the snow and they are the only thing that is making you turn. By building confidence with practice, you will be able to push harder against the skis and lean further into the turn making it tighter. As you gather speed this maneuver becomes easier and more controllable.

  • The Carving Position

When carving the upper body is maintained in an upright stance, while the legs are more bent than in a parallel turn. As you lean into a turn most of the bodyweight should be transferred to the middle of the outer ski. With less movement of the upper body, it becomes more fluid and rhythmic to change from a left turn to a right turn. The shoulders are positioned square in the direction of the skis. As you practice moving your body weight around on the outer ski you will find the inner ski is carrying very little weight and you can in fact lift it up while making a turn with all the weight on the outer ski.

See also How To Ski - Beginners Guide

When can you Carve?

The ideal snow for carving should be soft enough to enable your edges to really bite into the snow but at the same time, the snow needs to give enough support so that the ski doesn’t slide across the surface.

(Video) HOW TO CARVE ON SKIS | 5 TIPS & DRILLS FOR BEGINNERS / INTERMEDIATES

If the surface of the run is icy it is difficult to carve because you need a lot of force to make the ski edges bite into the ice. It can be done but you need plenty of space with no other people around to practice. Conversely, if it has been snowing and the run hasn’t been groomed then the soft snow won’t be able to offer enough support to the skis and they will consequently float across it.

By its nature carving will make you go faster down the runs. So, when you are starting out practice on steeper blues, where you will be able to improve your technique without any runaway speeds.

Sharpening your Edges

What is Carving on Skis? | New To Ski (4)

Ensuring you have sharp edges on your skis will help considerably in carve turns. The ski will be able to slice through the snow with much less friction giving you better speed. During everyday use, it is easy to develop nicks and scratches on your edges, which although small will have a cumulative effect in slowing you down. If you plan on really working at your carving it is well worth investing in getting your edges sharpened the next time you get them waxed. There are kits available to sharpen your own skis but for the minimal cost best to get a professional in a ski shop to do a thorough job.

What is Carving on Skis? | New To Ski (5)

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(Video) CARVING WITH EARLY EDGE ANGLES | 3 skiing tips from a pro

FAQs

What is Carving on Skis? | New To Ski? ›

The skier's weight flexes the entire edge of the ski into the snow, which makes the ski into an arc shape, which then defines the curve of the turn. Carved turns are only made on the edges of the skis and there is no skidding as in parallel turning.

What is the point of carving on skis? ›

What is carving? A carved turn is where the ski is bent against its natural camber into an arc, and that arc shape guides the skis along a curved path. Modern skis are already shaped to make this easier.

Should you always carve when skiing? ›

Proper carving is the most energy-efficient way to ski. To initiate a turn, all you have to do is roll your knees to one side, allowing the edges to grip the snow and follow their natural curve.

Are carving skis good for beginners? ›

Whether you're a dabbler in the sport, carving snow for the first time, or sticking to green-level terrain, these are the best all-mountain skis for beginners. For many, it's not realistic to have a truck, van, convertible, SUV, and EV all parked in the driveway. The same goes for skis.

How long does it take to learn to carve on skis? ›

IMV skiers with 6-10 weeks on snow should have sufficient skills to start trying to carve. Experienced boarders are often quicker to learn because they already know what the sensation is that they're trying to achieve and they're not afraid of the speed increase.

Does carving slow you down skiing? ›

There are many benefits for non-racing skiers who learn to carve. First and foremost, it's more fun! A carved turn will glide you around a corner without any loss of speed, whereas a skidded turn (the opposite of carving) will always slow you down.

How do you carve a beginner ski? ›

CARVING Basics - Beginner Drill - YouTube

Is carving faster than going straight? ›

A DH ski would just never be able to make the turn shapes needed to be fast in a slalom course. - Line and and a clean edge are crucial. Carving will always beat skid, regardless of line, but if you can hold your carve, straight wins the day.

Is carving better than skidding? ›

Carving, believe it or not, is one of the most efficient ways of skiing. Those who haven't mastered the skill are expending more energy skidding through their turns than skiers who have learned to tip their skis on edge.

How do you practice ski carving? ›

2 Drills to improve your Ski:IQ™ with Tom Waddington - YouTube

What type of skiing is best for beginners? ›

FLEX. A beginner skier should choose a ski that has a soft to medium-soft flex. A softer flex will result in a more forgiving ski, and is better able to absorb frustrating choppiness on the slope. A common problem for skiers who are just beginning is that their weight gets shifted too far back on their skis.

What skis are easiest to turn? ›

Turn radius

For instance, slalom skis have a radius of 10 to 12 meters. Skis with a low turning radius are usually better for beginners because they are easier to turn.

What kind of skis should beginners use? ›

A beginner will need skis that are quite short: 10 to 15cm less than their own height for downhill skis. A good skier might choose skis which are the same height as themselves for downhill skiing (and sometimes even a little longer for freeriding).

What does an intermediate skier look like? ›

Intermediate lessons are for skiers who can confidently ski green and easy blue runs and are comfortable on less-than-ideal trail conditions. Level Four skiers are cautious intermediate skiers who can link turns under moderate speed on green or easy blue trails. You should be able to keep your skis parallel.

Can you carve on steep slopes? ›

Replying to the original question, you can pure carve on steep runs IF the run is wide enough for the turn radius you can bend your skis into AND you can live with the speed that you generate as you cross the fall line.

How do you stop skidding when skiing? ›

Skidded Turns

By keeping the skis parallel, but also relatively flat, you can steer round turns down the hill while braking all the way. By keeping your hips over your feet and your balance on the outside ski, you can link parallel turns together rhythmically without ever letting them build too much speed or pressure.

Can you carve on all mountain skis? ›

You don't need to buy new skis just to learn how to carve. If you're considering new skis anyway, though, all-mountain skis offer a nice sidecut radius for carving. They also have enough camber to allow you to flex the skis and hold the edges.

Are twin tips harder to ski on? ›

Twin tips also "ski shorter" than they really are (we'll get into why later on), meaning they're more manageable for novices looking to link turns and make it down the easier slopes.

Do heavier skiers go downhill faster? ›

Other factors being equal, a heavier skier is faster than a lighter one because his air resistance is lower. So a skier can go faster by increasing mass--becoming as heavy as possible for his frame. Only at about 200 pounds does the advantage of extra weight get wiped out by the increased friction with the snow.

Why do skiers go back and forth? ›

A skier who heads straight down a 30-degree slope can reach 150 miles per hour, but traversing back and forth across the slope keeps one's momentum in check. More than 100 years passed before the next great leap.

Why does a skier bend his body? ›

One way to increase speed is to cut down air resistance. To do this, skiers will tuck their body and bend their knees so that they are lower and closer to the ground. That way, there is less surface area for the force of air to work against. Another way to increase speed is to start with a large force.

How do you go from skidding to carving? ›

PARALLEL SKIDDING TO CARVING TURNS | Ep.2 Technique Teardowns

What to look for in carving skis? ›

Waisted means that a ski is wider at the front and back than at the binding. This hourglass shape is typical of carving skis. If a ski has a pronounced waist/sidecut, it is better suited for small, sharp turns. A less prominent waist, on the other hand, is more suitable for long turns with pronounced radii.

How do you control carving speed? ›

How to keep CARVING on steeper terrain - YouTube

Where do you put your weight when skiing? ›

Generally your weight should always be put on the outside ski in a turn, or the downhill ski as you go across the slope.

How do you ski smoothly? ›

HOW TO SKI WITH FLOW | 3 Tips for smoother skiing - YouTube

How do you get faster at skiing? ›

Break New Personal Speed Limits
  1. Carve, Carve, Carve. Rather than pointing your skis downhill and gunning it down the mountain without any turns, you'll actually ski faster by carving your way down. ...
  2. Tune Your Skis. ...
  3. Strengthen Your Core & Leg Muscles. ...
  4. Work On Your Tuck. ...
  5. Be Aware of Your Body.
Jul 15, 2022

Are longer or shorter skis better for beginners? ›

As a rule of thumb, beginner-level skiers should ride a ski no longer than the top of their chests. Shorter and softer flexing skis are easier to control, making turning easier and gaining speed less intimidating. The length and waist width of your skis determines how much surface area your ski is touching on the snow.

How often should I sharpen my skis? ›

If you ski more than 2 weeks per year consider professional sharpening twice a season. If you ski every day of the season, professionally sharpen your skis every month or two and use a file regularly. If you ski mainly on ice or hard-packed snow, sharpen your skis more often.

Are wider skis better for beginners? ›

Generally speaking, beginners are going to want a narrower ski. For starters, beginners spend most of their time on-piste, where a wide-waisted ski will feel unwieldy. Narrower skis are also nimbler and are therefore easier to lay over on edge.

Is carving better than skidding? ›

Carving, believe it or not, is one of the most efficient ways of skiing. Those who haven't mastered the skill are expending more energy skidding through their turns than skiers who have learned to tip their skis on edge.

How do you turn a carved ski? ›

HOW TO CARVE ON SKIS | 5 TIPS & DRILLS FOR ... - YouTube

What to look for in carving skis? ›

Waisted means that a ski is wider at the front and back than at the binding. This hourglass shape is typical of carving skis. If a ski has a pronounced waist/sidecut, it is better suited for small, sharp turns. A less prominent waist, on the other hand, is more suitable for long turns with pronounced radii.

How do you carve instead of a slide? ›

Carving - How to Carve on Skis - Advanced Ski Lesson #6.2 - YouTube

How do you stop skidding on skis? ›

STEEP SESSIONS - Skidded Turns (Warren Smith Ski Academy)

How do you control carving speed? ›

How to keep CARVING on steeper terrain - YouTube

How do you stop skidding from skiing? ›

Skidded Turns

By keeping the skis parallel, but also relatively flat, you can steer round turns down the hill while braking all the way. By keeping your hips over your feet and your balance on the outside ski, you can link parallel turns together rhythmically without ever letting them build too much speed or pressure.

How do you practice ski carving? ›

2 Drills to improve your Ski:IQ™ with Tom Waddington - YouTube

How can I practice ski carving at home? ›

Learn how to CARVE - 3 EASY DRILLS - YouTube

Do you lean forward when skiing? ›

A Small Skiing Myth

A small myth with skiing is that you have to lean forwards as much as you can, this is not true as just explained. You only need to lean forwards enough to put your centre of gravity over the middle of the ski.

Can you carve with all mountain skis? ›

You don't need to buy new skis just to learn how to carve. If you're considering new skis anyway, though, all-mountain skis offer a nice sidecut radius for carving. They also have enough camber to allow you to flex the skis and hold the edges.

How long should skis last? ›

The average skier replaces their skis every 8 years but your skis peak performance diminishes after 100-125 full days of use – that's five years if you ski 20 days a year.

Which skis are best for speed? ›

Best Piste Skis 2022
  • Volkl Flair 79.
  • K2 Disruption SC.
  • Rossignol Hero Elite ST.
  • Head SuperShape E-Rally.
  • Atomic Cloud 12.
  • Salomon S/max 8.
  • Salomon S/Force 7.
  • Rossignol Nova 6.
Feb 1, 2021

Are twin tips harder to ski on? ›

Twin tips also "ski shorter" than they really are (we'll get into why later on), meaning they're more manageable for novices looking to link turns and make it down the easier slopes.

What does an intermediate skier look like? ›

Intermediate lessons are for skiers who can confidently ski green and easy blue runs and are comfortable on less-than-ideal trail conditions. Level Four skiers are cautious intermediate skiers who can link turns under moderate speed on green or easy blue trails. You should be able to keep your skis parallel.

Where do you put your weight when skiing? ›

Generally your weight should always be put on the outside ski in a turn, or the downhill ski as you go across the slope.

Videos

1. 3 TIPS TO BETTER CARVE ON SKIS | FIXING THE A-FRAME
(Stomp It Tutorials)
2. 6 Key Skiing Drills for CARVING, Part 1
(Klaus Mair)
3. HOW TO SKI | CARVING - 3 KEY STEPS TO GET STARTED
(Stomp It Tutorials)
4. Carving with Kaylin Richardson
(Aspen Daily News)
5. what is tech skiing? explained (carving, mogul skiing and freeride skiing)
(Reilly McGlashan)
6. Carving Turns on Shaped Skis
(SFMTNS)

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