Anyone can master the carve |

Anyone can master the carve

Photo by Cathy HowardChris Fellows shows proper form on an extreme carve " with his inside hand, knee and foot out in front and a hip-width stance.

During the mid-1990s Elan developed extreme sidecut skis for use in teaching. What followed, however, was an all-out transformation of the ski industry. Precision carving ability ” once the realm of elite ski racers ” became common ground for advanced recreational skiers.

For the first time in history, the average skier moving at a relatively slow speed could attain the same sensations of a carved turn as elite racers did at much higher speeds. Making basic carving movements on groomed slopes required little effort, and a segment of upper-level skiers became addicted to the feelings of a close-to-perfect carve. Extreme carving was born.

The first extreme carving skiers would lay their entire bodies out on the snow as they balanced against perfectly arcing skis. No poles? No problem! These skiers carried slippery wedges on their hands to help balance against the snow. Carving contests and races became cool, and entire books and videos were dedicated to the art of carving.

World Cup Athletes like Bode Miller started racing on and winning World Cup races on extreme shaped skis. As soon as a World Cup racer jumps on the wave, positive public perception of any product grows exponentially. Today, skiers everywhere scribe two trenches down the slope just because carving is fun and easy.

When something is this much fun, it’s worth doing. And if it helps your fundamentals, it’s worth doing a lot. The body mechanics used for an extreme carve make up the core of good contemporary skiing. A hip-width stance will allow you to tip the legs and skis over to their maximum range. By keeping your inside hand, knee and foot ahead, you’ll make it easier to lean farther into the turn, thereby creating a tighter arc. Your inside hand and hip should come close to skimming the snow. The exhilaration produced by the G. force feelings, combined with the sight of your perfectly carved tracks, is one of expert skiing’s proverbial golden eggs.

Tools: Performance carving skis have made the elusive carved turn a realistic goal for many skiers. The carving trend has caught on and created a subculture of carving aficionados.

How: Try to keep your inside hand, hip and knee ahead at the transition of each turn. Progressively tip your whole body into the turn while staying aligned over both skis.

Where: Tipping both skis over, leaving a trench in the snow wherever you desire is the ultimate goal; however, snow conditions often dictate how deep your ski edges will embed into the snow. Early morning groomed slopes are the best for carving practice sessions.

Am I doing it?: Look back at your tracks and see if you have left two clean lines in the snow. If you find that one ski track is deep and the other is smeared, then you need to focus on getting the weight more equally distributed over both feet. Try to match the edge angle of both skis.

Warning: Carving is addictive and has been known to cause uncontrollable grinning and outbursts of giggling.

Chris Fellows and his wife Jenny are the directors of Truckee’s North American Ski Training Center (NASTC) and Chris is a member of the PSIA

National Demonstration Team. Chris will be writing a weekly column all winter. He can be reached at or 582-4772.

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