How To Carve
A Snowboard

Carving with a snowboard is fun. Many snowboarders do it all the time (like crazy!), but not only because it’s cool and fun, but because it has its benefits. It allows you to relax your legs and kinda stretch them a little bit to provide much-needed comfort that will help keep you on the snowboarding trails for longer periods. It will also help you stabilize if your snowboard has some difficulties staying on course when encountering crud – with carving, you’ll slice right through it.

While many snowboarders can make it seem like it’s a piece of cake, carving is a skill that takes some time and effort to master, and you’ll also need to tune or replace some of your snowboarding equipment in order to be able to do it right.

Here you can read all about how to carve and the type of equipment which is best for carving.

What Equipment Do You Need For Carving?

First of all, any type of snowboard can carve, there’s no need for you to break the bank for a new snowboard (you can if you want to), but you might want to make some alterations to your existing one to make it more suitable for carving.

If you decide to get a new one, look for the following features and characteristics for better carving:

  • Snowboard Width: The width of the snowboard depends on the size of your snowboarding boots. If you have ones that are a bit larger and bulkier than what is average for your size, you might want to consider getting a wider snowboard in order to reduce the possibility of dragging that might come if your snow boots stick out too much both front and behind.
  • Edge Hold: This one can be a bit tricky as different brands have a different way of naming extra edge grip they add to their snowboards, so be on the lookout for something of the sorts. The extra edge hold will improve the snowboard’s carving ability by a lot.
  • Sidecut Radius: The smaller the sidecut radius, the better the carving and turning ability of the snowboard, plain and simple.
  • Flex: It’s much easier to carve with a stiffer snowboard, but getting a snowboard with reverse camber and a softer flex will do a great job, too.
  • All-round Flex: Getting a stiff snowboard but using soft flex boots will decrease your ability to carve, so make sure that all the equipment (boots, bindings, snowboard) has a somewhat similar flex.

You might also want to consider going for an all-mountain snowboard, as this type usually has all the features we listed above, and are considered to be the best for carving.

Altering Your Snowboard

As we said, almost all snowboards will do a good job of carving, but you might want to freshen up your snowboard before you start. First off, make sure that the edges don’t have any dents or other damaged areas, and if they do, smoothen them out ASAP.

You can do this at home, but be careful not to make the edges too sharp, as this can cause the snowboard to bite into the snow too much, which can be counterproductive if you want to carve. If you aren’t sure how to do it, you can enlist the help of a professional.

What About The Boots?

The snowboard is considered to be a key piece in the carving-puzzle, but you should also consider upgrading or modifying your existing snowboard boots.

In order to be able to initiate carving, you’ll need boots that are more on the stiff side, as these are more responsive and there is better energy transfer from your boot to your snowboard. Plus, you will learn more advanced moves with much less effort.

How To Carve A Snowboard

Now, before we get into explaining the technique of carving, make sure that you are focused on the following:

  • Tilting: where you tilt the snowboard slightly more than what is normal for when making a turn
  • Knee Flexibility: having relaxed knees will help you measure how much to extend and flex them in order to start and stop carving.

In order to better explain carving and how to do it, it can be easily divided into three stages, initiation, control, and finish. Let’s explain each one:

Initiation

This is the moment when you start tilting. You can start off either on the front or the back.

The backside edge start off by flexing your toes upwards, towards the upper body of the boots, and simultaneously bending your knees as if you’re sitting down. This will cause the front side of the snowboard to lift off and the backside to bite into the snow.

The frontside edge – start off by putting pressure on your toes to move forward, directionally away from the upper side of the boot, while straightening your legs and body bit by bit until you feel the backside lifting off, then push down gently with your toes until the front edge of the snowboard bites into the snow.

Control

Maintain the balance by keeping your back and head up straight, and make sure that your shoulders are in line with the tip of the snowboard.

When in this position, you’re pretty much in autopilot. As long as you keep your body still, there’s no need to exert extra force or take away any in order to make the turn – the sidecut radius of your snowboard does the turning for you.

Finish

At some point, you’ll have to stop carving, otherwise, you’ll end up making a full circle or just stopping. In order to get back into normal riding mode, hold the edge, flex your muscles gently to get a better hold of the snowboard, then slowly start applying pressure to the side on which you want to land. If you decide to descent in a zig-zag pattern, prepare to make the next turn or start carving on the other side.

Some Extra Tips

Make Wider Turns – this way you’ll have better control over speed and have more time to relax your legs.

The Less The Collateral, The Better – the less snow you throw away when you’re carving, the better you are at it. Throwing too much snow to the side can mean that you’re carving too hard and you risk losing control.

Find Suitable Slopes For Practice – this way you can progress from amateur to pro carver much quicker. First off, try looking for slopes and trails that have the least people, that way you can focus more on the moves and less on traffic. After you get the basics, move on to wider slopes in order to practice with traffic. After you feel confident enough to carve without being a menace to others, move to steeper slopes where you’ll be able to practice carving at higher speeds, which is where all the fun is.

You want to be on groomed terrain for all of these. Now, make sure the snow is not too hard or too soft, otherwise, you’ll have a lot of trouble trying to maintain balance.

Conclusion

Carving is a skill that any aspiring snowboarder should master, and while it’s not the hardest thing, it’s also not easy. The time needed to master it is different for every snowboarder – some manage to perfect it in a few days, some need a week or two, and others never master it, so it’s important to be patient and persistent.

If you’re having difficulties learning it on your own, consider enlisting the help of a professional, there’s no shame in doing it! Good luck carving this season!

Article by:
Natalie Waters
Content Writer at Bluehouse
Last Updated August 2020

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