If you’ve ever seen an experienced snowboarder ride down a slope, then you’ve seen snowboard carving. Snowboard carving is the technique by which snowboarders zig and zag down a slope, while shifting their weight from front edge to back edge.
- Snowboard carving is essentially the method by which snowboarders skillfully and safely navigate down slopes of all grades and sizes. Carving allows snowboarders to slow down and navigate around impending obstacles and other riders. Stopping is essentially a hard carve, in which the snowboard’s front or back edge is leaned on until it is perpendicular with the slope.
- Snowboard carving is a skill that must be developed over time. The first building block of carving is often called “falling leaf.” Instructors use this method to get new boarders comfortable with shifting their weight and traveling from side to side. Facing uphill with snowboard perpendicular to the slope, riders are instructed to gently shift their weight from one leg to the other. The board will turn slightly and begin to travel slowly back and forth, in the direction of each weight shift (like a leaf slowly tumbling to the ground). This method requires practice on both toe and heel edges and gradually increased traverse angles. Eventually, the rider can point the board directly downhill and shift back to a stop on both front and back edges. Once this basic building block is mastered, riders learn to gently transfer their weight from front to back edge and transition carves seamlessly from heel to toe.
- As snowboarders learn the sport, they can link their carves and effectively ride down a slope, turn and stop. As riders improve their carving skills and carve more smoothly and quickly, they are able to advance to steeper, more difficult slopes.
- It is a common mistake for beginners to try to carve by kicking their front leg, thereby pointing the nose of the snowboard in one direction or the other. However, this is completely incorrect and does not allow for appropriate navigation of edges on the slope. It will likely result in losing control and falling. Edges must be maintained at all times.
- The size of a snowboarder’s carve generally indicates his experience and skill level. Beginners generally perform much wider carves, maneuvering from one side of the slope to the other. As they gain the knack, their carves become tighter and they have much more focused control, holding a fast, tight line down the slope.
- Carves can vary greatly depending upon the specific type of snow and terrain where they’re being performed. On a wide open bowl, carves can be long and smooth, while in the trees they must be short and precise. Shorter carves can be used to check speed and master control. Specific alpine or carving boards are designed to allow for the most dramatic carves. Riders take long, sweeping carves in which their edges are squarely dug into the snow, their bodies nearly touching the ground.