How to Layout Better Carves
When it comes to carving on groomed snow, I will be the first to admit - it’s not that easy. I’m not a PSIA certified instructor, so for those of you who are, please don’t bash my attempt to lay out the steps for carving ski turns. I did spend the better part of my life (13 years) dedicated to mastering this ski technique through years of alpine ski racing, and that took me as far as the NCAA Division 1 level. So - without further self depreciation about my lack of being qualified to give this lesson, let's talk about arcing your skis!
Carving Ski Turns
Let’s pretend we’re standing on a flat cattrack, looking down upon a perfectly groomed, level pitch. You’re ready to layout better carves - this is where we will start. Pushing off the cattrack and onto the slope, gaining some speed, you will begin your arc by properly loading the ski. Before beginning to turn, try to put more of your weight onto what will become your outside ski. This will help you maintain power that will counteract the forces of the arc you’re about to snap, and ultimately, will keep your body more square.
Ankles, knees & hips - it all starts from the ground up. Once your outside ski is pressured, begin to tilt or angle your ankles toward the snow, followed by your knees. Your hips may want to tilt inward- but you want them to stay square to the slope. Just remember- ankles, knees, hips!
Tips for Carving on Skis
With that outside ski loaded, your skis will start to bend and your arc will begin to build. Flex your ankles and knees as your ski tilt - this will help you bend or load the skis throughout the turn. The focus of knee and ankle flexion will not only help you build power through your turn, but will also allow you to balance against the force of your arc as your skis build pressure against the snow.
You’ve made it to the center, or the apex, of your arc! Maximum forces are felt at this point, and your ski will begin to release all that pressure you’ve built. If you do nothing, and stand static - you will get into the backseat and possibly explode into a full blown yard sale. Think about being active! At this time, you will want to move the center of your body mass forward and out of the turn to carry your momentum.
Carving into Your Next Turn
As the arc comes to a close, with your momentum actively moving you forward - it’s time to start initiating your next turn. As your outside ski becomes your downhill ski, you’ll want to transition your weight onto what will become your new outside ski… sound familiar? I’m a big fan of the pole plant at this point. It will help you to initiate the shift of your weight.
Try to remember to keep that upper body facing down the hill and level, like your hips, like you could draw a set of perfect horizontal lines across your shoulders, hands, hips, knees and ankles. Now you’re looking like a pro, carving better, and probably skiing faster. I wish you luck.