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

16 Responses to How to carve on a snowboard
  1. Jay
    March 18, 2013 | 10:47 am

    What makes me different from all the other beginners i see, is that they can go super duper slow and do nice controlled turns. When i go down a hill i go 100 mph at all times, i garland and just powers slide then switch to going forward then power slide on toe or heel, but i use power slides (garlands i guess) to face on way then go that way, i see when people link there turn they put there front foot toe side heel down and then turn, the second i do this, for one i will be going 5 times faster than they do in the video catch that edge and go down. I’m 6’2″ 215 lbs and for some reason i only have fast and power stops, i have no slow mode whatsoever, help!

  2. Michel
    January 2, 2013 | 9:21 pm

    I just realised that from the beginning I am doing carved turns. That’s why I was going so fast. That’s why also I am scared doing transition (chain) .turns.
    Thanks for your great videos.

  3. Shawna
    December 8, 2012 | 11:12 am

    Just wanted to say thank you both so much for your efforts!
    Your videos are the best I’ve seen.
    I’m an old school cruiser (1990 Burton Air 162, 92′ Asym Air 163!)and have recently gotten back into it. My partner (who is a beginner) and I just bought new boards and are excited to get out there this year.
    With your tips and advice in hand, I’m sure you’ve helped improve my riding already!

    Thanks again!
    Best Wishes

    • Rick
      December 24, 2012 | 4:24 pm

      I have an early ’90’s Asym Air on my wall. It was my dads.

  4. Martin
    July 31, 2012 | 2:16 am

    excllnt material guys – superb. huge thanks.

    one thing I can’t find is more info on what causes or contributes to the nose dig between to linked high speed carves (changing rails at high speed). I’ve had 2 major wipe outs in Boarding both due to this. One led to ripped tendons in a knee and a few years later the next time led to a smashed Ball n Socket in my shoulder….

    guidance would be really helpful …. pleeeez


  5. Anonymous
    January 25, 2012 | 3:35 am

    […] […]

  6. JC
    January 17, 2012 | 10:46 pm

    Hello Jill and Rick. Last season I started boarding and watched your videos ten times. They helped me so much that I made it to the mountains probably eight times and was loving it. Keep up the good work and come visit Alberta!


  7. Marla
    January 10, 2012 | 7:08 pm

    I was told to push my front knee toward the direction I’m headed during turns, carved or otherwise. I really struggle with front/back leg action during turns. I also have a very hard time with tight turns. Any advice? Thanks for the help.

  8. saskia
    November 20, 2011 | 4:08 pm

    Hey, this videos are great!! been watching them over and over!!
    Im starting to snowboard (went a few weekends and a week in the beguining of this year cant wait to get there again!)
    i saw this video and this has one thing i’ve been question myself: are we also supposed to go with our board contacting all of the snow…?
    what should happen between our board and snow?
    i found some answers in this video! very good the drawings in the snow!
    thats how we do gain more speed? getting in the edge of the board? i’ven ben having trouble in getting more speed

    thats for you great work! can´t wait to try this out!

  9. Y?lmaz
    March 15, 2011 | 4:12 pm

    Hey Guys,
    I just wanted to tell that non of the instructors on the mountain could help like you. I learnt snowboarding from your videos.
    Best Regards from Turkey.

    • Jill
      March 19, 2011 | 9:36 pm

      Glad to hear the videos have helped you! Thanks for your support.

  10. Rick Barker
    February 14, 2011 | 10:49 pm

    Hey Guys,
    I really love your videos and they’ve been helping a lot. I’ve had near double digit days of snowboarding under my belt and I want to take it another level, but I am having a hard time completing S turns at high speeds. I can do my heel side turns fine, but when cruising at high speeds I find myself slowing down before doing my toe side turn. I really want to learn how to carve, but I was wondering what kind of advice you have for me so that I can finish my toe side turns at high speeds and not having to slow down, without worrying about catching an edge and falling. I need to make it a smoother transition from my heel side turn to my toe side, I’m just not sure how. Any advice??
    Thanks, Rick

    • Scare bear
      May 24, 2011 | 12:08 am

      Great videos! Wish I’d seen them before I learned carving.

      Hey Rick, trying bending your knees going into the carve and add a little more weight onto your front foot. This feels like the opposite to what you want to do when you first start out, but it gives you more control and lifts the board edges from the snow. You have to be brave and trust the board to turn, it’s easier to do this if you don’t go at it too fast to begin with as you’ll pick up some speed through the carve.

  11. David k
    January 5, 2011 | 3:24 am

    hey guys, I just wanted to say thanks for doing all these
    videos. I am new to snowboarding and watching all these videos have
    really helped me. Thanks 🙂

  12. loyd marchand
    January 2, 2011 | 3:12 pm

    thanks for the lessons, these are the best videos out

  13. Antoinette Rosenbloom
    December 26, 2010 | 5:54 pm

    Most of the blogs online are pretty much the same but i
    think that your blog can be an exception. Bravo !

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