What is carving on skis, and how do you carve?

You have heard a lot about carving but do not yet know what it really is: check out our advice.

What is carving on skis, and how do you carve?

This winter, you are going on a skiing holiday and you want to improve your piste skiing technique. You have heard a lot about carving but do not yet know what it really is. We explain the carving technique, how to position yourself to "carve" well and how to choose the right terrain to start carving. You are about to add a whole new dimension to your skiing! 

What is carving?

To carve in English means to sculpt. Carving is an Anglicism that refers to a skiing technique. This technique consists in anchoring the edges of your skis in the snow, by applying strong pressure on the downhill ski, i.e. the lower one or the outer ski, if we consider that the ski that is more towards the piste is the inner ski. Carving is a turning technique that involves "cutting" through the snow using the edges. Once you've mastered the technique, carving can feel like you are skiing on rails! You will discover an exceptional gliding sensation.

What is carving on skis, and how do you carve?

WHAT GEAR DO YOU NEED FOR CARVING?

Carving is only possible with the right kind of skis. This skiing technique dates from the arrival of parabolic skis on the pistes! Since they make skiing easier for many beginners, parabolic skis are usually the ones you will find in stores and available for hire. It's very easy to recognise them: they are thinner in the middle of the ski (called "the waist"), where you are going to position your ski boot. The front and rear are wider, and the ski has a camber. This is important because, when weight is applied to the camber of the ski, you give it the energy needed to make it turn, but I've strayed a little into the next chapter.
When it comes to older skis, on the other hand, they are straight and flat and therefore not at all suitable for this technique, unless you enjoy a face plant in the snow!

For this discipline, remember to wax and sharpen your skis.

How to position yourself to carve on skis?

In order to learn how to carve, you will need to rethink your skiing style. If you are used to skidding in order to turn, you will need some practise.
The general idea is that by applying the correct pressure to your skis at the right time, you will turn naturally.

What is carving on skis, and how do you carve?
What is carving on skis, and how do you carve?
What is carving on skis, and how do you carve?
What is carving on skis, and how do you carve?
What is carving on skis, and how do you carve?

With this turn, you've just completed your first attempt at carving!

Do you have some extra money for skiing? Take one or two private lessons!

Although the theory is important, practice is better, and quite honestly, a ski instructor will always be able to give you some invaluable advice. But, naturally, a private lesson is expensive! That said, if you want to learn carving, the support of a professional will help you build the right habits and improve quickly. Think of it as an investment in something that you enjoy.

What is carving on skis, and how do you carve?
What is carving on skis, and how do you carve?

How do you choose the right terrain to start carving?

To be able to carve (or sculpt the piste if you prefer) you must have a little speed but not too much or there is a risk that you will accelerate too fast, so keep your speed in check by skidding.
Ideally take a slope that isn't too steep or a piste on which you feel very comfortable. The quality of the snow is also an important factor, and carving should preferably be done on hard, freshly groomed snow (so avoid powder or soft spring snow). And of course, although this may seem obvious, you won't be able to carve on moguls!Rather, the ideal piste for carving will be an easy red or blue piste. But above all, take it easy, take the time to feel the snow under your skis and complete the piste once or twice before attempting to carve. And if you ever find that you are going at a speed that is too fast for you, stop with a skid turn. Finish the descent with your usual skiing technique and look for a more suitable slope that isn't as steep.

You now know what carving is and how to start carving on the slopes. There are many video tutorials available online, so be sure to watch a few of them before you get started. Once you are on the piste, take the time to breathe and enjoy yourself. After all, you are here to have fun!

What is carving on skis, and how do you carve?

Camille

Skiing enthusiast

More advice about skiing