Once you get a handle on the basic elements of snowboarding, that’s when the fun starts. Learning how to strap-in, use your edges, slow down, and stop are the first steps towards becoming a solid rider. After you’ve learned those elements, you can start progressing to the next level and learn some new techniques that will push you even further along. That includes carving.
Beginners boarders all want to learn how to carve. Not only is it impressive, but it can also be beautiful to watch. Few things are more awesome than an experienced boarder effortlessly carving down a steep fresh powder run. However, while they make it look easy, carving takes quite a bit of practice. In this guide, we will give you some tips for how to carve on a snowboard so you can push yourself and improve on the snow.
The Difference Between Carving and Turning
Carving and turning, though similar, have some key differences. While the two terms are somewhat interchangeable, they can also vary depending on who you talk to. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to distinguish between the two just so you can get an idea of what to shoot for when learning to carve.
Turning is the basic snowboarding maneuver of shifting your body and board from one orientation to another. That is to say, it’s the practice of getting yourself from toeside to heelside and vice-versa. You can do one turn at a time or string several turns in a row to control your speed on the snow.
Carving is a more advanced turning technique that involves performing multiple equal turns in a row. A carve turn allows you to go down steeper slopes while maintaining a constant rhythm and flow as you ride. If you’ve ever looked up at fresh tracks in the powder and noticed wide arcing S tracks going down the face, that’s a good visual representation of carving.
How to Carve
Before you begin to practice carving, you have to think about safety. First, make sure you’re on a run that isn’t too crowded or steep. Though falling is part of the learning process, you don’t want to endanger others or increase your risk of injury. Starting on a mellow blue run that doesn’t have too many other riders is a good way to make that happen.
1. Get Up to Speed
The first step in carving is to get enough speed to actually initiate a carve turn. You need to be going somewhat fast, which is why this isn’t a beginner level technique. Pick your run and start by pointing straight downhill for a few seconds to pick up speed. You don’t want to be going top speed, but you can’t be moving too slowly either.
2. Lean & Tilt
Once you hit a decent speed, it’s time to begin your first carve. You do that by leaning into the direction you want to turn while also tilting your board so that one edge digs into the face of the snow and the other edge points up slightly.
When you’re carving toeside, press your toes into the snow while extending your knees and hips slightly back. When you carve heelside, you’re going to make an opposite movement. Dig your heels into the snow and point your toes away from your legs. A heelside carve will also make you bend more at the knees in a way that almost feels like you’re starting to sit down.
3. Hold Your Edge
After you start your carve, you’re going to use the edge of your board for control and power when you’re in the wide part of your turn. You want to maintain this edge control throughout the majority of the turn, and at least until you get past the steep, fully committed part of the carve known as the fall line.
To do that, make sure your body is both engaged and active. Keep your eyes in front of you and try to have your shoulders stay in line with the board. Try to maintain this position through the entire carve if you can.
4. Complete the Carve
After you make your carve and pass through the fall line by following the above steps, you will find yourself more perpendicular to the downhill slope. When you’re in that position you’re at the end of your carve. That means you can then flatten out your board to get prepared for the next turn. The ending of the turn will give you the chance to get rebalanced and prepare for the next turn on your opposite edge.
5. String them Together
In order to truly carve, you need to string multiple turns together. Once you go through all of the above steps, it’s time to repeat everything. However, this time you need to go in the opposite direction on the opposite edge. Initiate the turn in the opposite direction while paying attention to your knees and hips depending on which edge is now in control.
When you’re able to put many of the turns together in a single run, you’re truly carving. You might only be able to complete a few at a time when you first start out, and that’s ok. Take your time until you really get a feel for the technique.
Practice Makes Perfect
The best way to really improve your carving abilities is to get out on the snow as much as you can. You can read about carving and watch videos all day, but there is no way to actually improve other than to get the repetition and feel that comes with steady practice. Carving does take some time to perfect, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll have the skill for the rest of your life.
You might not learn how to carve on your first few attempts, but you will get the skill down if you’re consistent and don’t give up. A lesson with a good instructor is a solid way to make sure your form and technique are on point. They will also provide you with support and encouragement to stay with it. It’s all about putting in the right amount of effort and staying determined with each and every try.
Do you know how to carve on a snowboard? Do you have any tips for those who are just learning this maneuver? Let us know in the comments below!