How to carve on a snowboard
Carving is a great ‘next step’ once you’ve mastered basic turns. Carving means your snowboard will tip on edge and you’ll cut across the snow without skidding.
Carving is a ton of fun on groomers and handy on hard snow, because your edge cuts across with less slipping. You’ll go faster and have more control on groomers. If you plan on progressing in freestyle, you’ll carve in the half-pipe and when spinning off jumps.
In this episode, we introduce simple steps to learn carving and tips to improve.
Carving is something we already do instinctively. On a slippery hill, you slide down if your feet are flat, but you can really get traction when you tip your feet up and dig into the snow—same with your snowboard edges.
In a skidded turn, your snowboard slides over the snow leaving a swish-shaped track. For carved turns your edge digs into the snow leaving a thin arc in the snow.
Carving requires just two steps: Tipping your snowboard on edge and adding extra pressure.
Step 1—Practice tipping your snowboard on edge.
Strap in at the bottom of the hill to practice. Hold onto something sturdy and tilt your snowboard on edge. On your toe edge, notice that you have to drive your knees forward to tip the snowboard up. And on your heels, you need to drop your butt like you are sitting in a low chair.
Step 2—Carved traverse
Head to an intermediate run and practice carving across the hill in a traverse. Since you’ll be cutting across the run, be sure to look uphill to avoid collisions.
For a toeside traverse, keep your ankles and knees bent and tip your snowboard on edge by driving your knees into the hill. Add more pressure to your front and back toes…then try adding less (notice that you don’t grab the snow as well when you reduce the pressure). What happens if you reduce the edge angle?
On a heel traverse, think of sticking your butt out to tip your snowboard on edge. You should feel like you’re sitting into a low chair and your calf muscles should be pressing on your high-backs. Add more pressure to your heels…then less. You want to experiment to find the right amount of pressure and tilt so you cut across the hill without skidding.
Have a look at your track. If it’s a nice, thin line—you got it. If it’s wide and feathery, keep working.
Step 3—Carved garlands
If you want more practice, try carved garlands.
- From a traverse, shift weight over your front leg to get your tip pointed downhill.
- When you have some speed, tip your snowboard up and power-up your edge. You’ll make a bunch of toe turns in a row.
- Try it heelside.
Step 4—Carved single turn
On an intermediate groomed run practice single carves. For toe carves:
- Go straight and get some speed (remember speed will help you)
- Put weight on your front toe to initiate the turn while tilting your snowboard on edge. For toeside, drive your knees into the hill to really get your snowboard on edge
- Press down on both feet and let the snowboard carve
- Turn uphill and come to a stop
If you do it right, the turn will feel sharp and fast and you’ll leave a clean, thin line in the snow. Do the same thing heelside.
- Get some speed
- Put weight on your front heel to begin the turn while tilting your snowboard on edge
- Then press on the heels of both feet
- Remember to drop your butt into the hill and press on your high-backs to really get on edge.
For larger turns, tip the snowboard on edge and add steady, gradual foot pressure to your edges. For smaller turns, tip your board on edge and quickly apply pressure.
Step 5—Link carves together
When you can do toe and heel carves, try linking them together.
- Carve across the hill in a heelside traverse, now press down on your front toes.
- When your snowboard points downhill, tip the board up on edge (really feel your ankles and knees tilting up) and add pressure to carve—but this time don’t stop.
- When you finish this carve, cut across the hill in a toeside carved traverse.
- From this toe traverse, press on your front heel to begin pointing downhill. Tip your board on edge, stick out your butt and add pressure to both heels.
Gradually reduce the length of the traverse between carves and soon you’ll be linking them together.
Carving properly takes lots of practice, so dedicate a few runs each day to until you feel comfortable. As you progress, you’ll feel the power and speed that comes from carving up groomers.
Next step: Experiment with your knees