Get Your Carve On

Skiing on hard surfaces is at times unavoidable. Unlike skiing on soft snow, on hardpack you’re often putting 80 or 90% of your weight on your outside ski. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get more performance from the inside ski. In fact the more you use your inside ski, the easier it will be to carve on any surface.

Start with a wide stance placing your feet under your hips. If you’re too narrow you can’t use that inside ski to your advantage. If you naturally ski in a narrow stance make a run with an imaginary beach ball between your legs. Practice some railroad track turns in this way and use your little toe to “slice” the snow.

In the past, instructors advocated a big lead change: at the beginning of the turn the new outside ski tip was ahead of the other ski so that the body was pointed down the hill. This counter allowed the skier to use the body like an uncoiling spring to get the skis to turn faster. This type of turn is still helpful if you are skiing off piste, in The Slides or in any situation where you have to turn in a tight spot.

Carving on Skis
Don’t try this at home: Carving in a V.

Equipment is now so much better that we don’t need to use that skill blend for turning on hard pack. With current gear, if you execute a large lead change, you may find that your skis are not working together. At times a diverging “V” may be the result (see the photo above). My inside shin is not engaging the front of the boot cuff and as a result I’m not getting the skis to work together.

Try actively pulling the inside foot back through the turn so that the boot cuff is flexed by the shin in a diagonal fashion. Do this from the apex of the turn all the way through the bottom. You’ll start your next turn in a very strong fashion. This allows the inside ski to work with the outside ski and you’ll see two solid tracks in the snow and feel the power of both skis carving. At the end of the turn your uphill ski will still be an inch or so ahead of the other ski but not much more than that. Start out trying this on easy blue terrain and make railroad track turns. Focus on pulling that foot back as described above.

Getting your inside ski carving will take your groomed skiing up a notch, giving you more power and control.

5 comments on “Get Your Carve On

  1. I like the text well enough, but what’s with the video? Those aren’t really pure carves (a lot of skidding there). I think RR track turns could’ve been used there, too (and would have been a good visual of how to take an intermediate drill into your upper level skiing).

    Also, sometimes the move doesn’t have to be as drastic as pulling your inside foot back. Sometimes, all someone has to do is lift up the toes of their inside foot. This will pull the shin to the cuff of the boot (try it next time you’re on a lift).

  2. Matt,

    I like the text as well, and wish I where there with the, wait for it, “Z-Meister” @ Breck in hero snow “AS SEEN ON TV”.

    Holy slice n’ dice, great demo! The skid you perceive is conditions du jour, soft, forgiving shavings beginning just before the toe-piece and roostering off the tail. Wunderbar for those lookin’ for that imagery to lead them down the path they choose via snow-ski interaction.

    Z-MEISTER- you skied that so goodly, I’ll let you buy me a beer @ Gore. Only if you and the family show up for the GAPER GALA and road-kill BBQ. (Top Secret,don’cha know)

    Just Sayin’

    Always good matching turns with you.

  3. I’ll echo Matt in that I was surprised by what I saw in the video considering the article topic. Definitely a bit of skidding in there. The text doesn’t do anyone any favors, either. You’ll need to define “lead change”. I probably know what you are talking about but I don’t know what you mean by the words. 90% on the outside ski seems like way too much, even on hard pack.

  4. Z. Well written. For those wanting to work on this and not look down or think what not to do or get confused or frustrated over %s. Do actively pull back on your inside foot progressively through the turn. When you are ready to go the other way….dig your downhill pinky toe into the snow. If you find you can’t two things may be happening….you are not centered or moving with your equipment….maybe because the trail is too steep. Practice this on the flats and the move it up the hill as you gain confidence. As Z started. Wider stance.

  5. My point is to get more equal active use of the inside ski. 100% edge for recreational skiing is not practical unless you want to be going mach 5. I went thru a period where I have hooked on the arc em and park em but as equipment has evolved and I realized how limiting that could be I moved on. Unless you are racing pure carving does not exist – there is always some skid. In the video I am on 90mm waisted skis in spring conditions – that has an impact on how the ski will perform and as such had to mix in some skid. The edge angles of both skis and my legs match thru the turn and the inside ski is actively engaged – that is what I was looking for from the video.

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