Whether you want to start racing, launch higher in the halfpipe, or just have more fun on the trails you ride daily, learning to carve is an essential stepping stone to achieving all of your riding goals.
Carving does take a bit of practice to master, but once you have it down, you’ll notice an improvement in all aspects of your riding.
What Is Carving?
Carving is digging your snowboard edges into the snow while lifting the base of the board off the ground to perform sharp, high-speed turns. The result of carving is more control and speed, which can lead to tons of new skills and tricks. By starting with the basics and increasing your speed as you gain confidence, you’ll be carving circles around your friends in no time.
Time Required: 15 minutes - one hour
How to Carve
- Practice using your edges on flat land. You want to feel balanced and confident on your toeside and heelside edges try it on as steeper slope.
- Lean forward and balance on your toe edge for as long as you can; you should be in an athletic stance with your knees forward and your weight centered. Now lean back onto your heel edge with your butt low in a seated position. Practice balancing on each edge until you feel comfortable and confident in each position.
- Go to a run with a moderate slope - preferably one with which you are familiar. Start riding down the hill as you normally would until you gain enough speed for a turn. Always look uphill to avoid other skiers and riders before you start to carve. Carving involves making very wide turns that take up a lot of space on the hill, and you always want to practice proper snowboard etiquette.
- Initiate your toeside carve by bending your knees and ankles and leaning onto your toeside edge. Apply pressure to your toes to dig the board into the snow and create a deeper, faster carve. Play around with the pressure on your toes. Notice that as you apply more pressure you carve at a sharper angle and vice-versa. Take some pressure off of your toes and knees and straighten your body to slow your toeside turn.
- Transfer the pressure from your toes back to your heels to come out of your toeside carve and into the heelside traverse. Continue to check uphill for other riders; you’re about to carve back across the surface of the slope. Push your butt toward the ground like you’re sitting a chair and apply pressure to your heels and the back of your bindings. Do the same experimentation you did on the toeside edge. Apply more pressure to your heels to experience a deeper carve, and release the pressure for a slower, more relaxed carve.
- Continue carving to the bottom of the hill and work on finding the perfect amount of pressure, so you can dig your edges into every turn without skidding. Always look uphill before each carve and assess your track when you’re done. The track should be a thin line in the snow about as thick as the edge of your board. If you’re seeing skids and tracks as wide as your board, you need to adjust the pressure on your heels or toes when carving.
Carving at Speed
- The importance of carving is to gain edge control and speed. Linking your toeside and heelside carves correctly can give you that extra burst of speed you need to win a race or boost a higher air in the pipe.
- Lean forward to gain speed as you start to ride downhill. Increase speed until you’re riding fast but still within your comfort zone. Lean onto your toes with your knees forward like you practiced, but this time, get your knees as close to the ground as you can without touching them on the snow.
- Carve until you’re nearly riding uphill, then straighten your body and quickly transfer the pressure from your toes to your heelside edge. Drop your butt into a heelside carve. Complete each turn until just before you start carving uphill. You don’t want to slow yourself to a stop because you carved too long or too deep.
- Gain speed with each carve as you progress downhill. Never gain more speed than you can safely control, and remember, you can always carve uphill to slow yourself to a stop.
- Wear a helmet when practicing new skills like carving.