Imagine carving down the slope in perfect ‘S’ shaped turns. You fly through the corners feeling the cold air kiss your face and people admire your turns from the lift. There’s nothing more exhilarating or graceful than true edge-to-edge carving. And, you’ll need to master the carving ski technique to move from intermediate to expert.

What is an Intermediate Skier?

As Graham Bell explains in the video, an intermediate skier can confidently take on blue and red runs and knows how to parallel turn. You need to make sure you’re at the intermediate level before learning to carve. If you’re still at the beginner level, check out our article on how to progress from beginner to intermediate.

How to Improve Skiing Techniques: Learning to Carve

Once you know how to make parallel turns and feel confident doing so, the next natural step is learning how to carve. The carving ski technique essentially involves getting your skis up on their edge. When you make parallel turns, the bottom (flat surface) of your skis makes contact with the snow. When you carve, the metal edge (sides of your skis) do all the work. As such, a parallel turn is the foundation for carving.

Start in your normal parallel turn position. As you exit the turn, begin to lean your knees into the hill so that the edges of your skis are digging into the slope. If you were to look behind you, you’d clearly see two thin, parallel lines. It helps to have some momentum for this manoeuvre -- we recommend roughly a 45-degree angle.

When you reach the other side of the slope, you’ll need to transition edges and change your weight from ski-to-ski. Experts make the transition early into the turn and quickly. Once you’re balanced on the outside ski, you can move your legs out from under your body and lean into the hill. Your body should remain straight, rather than bent at the waist.

It’ll take a bit of practice and patience before you can overcome (and even enjoy) the centrifugal forces at work during your turns! When you get it right, it’ll feel like the ski has turned itself and you’ll fly across the slope. By learning to carve, you’ll not only become a better skier, but you’ll also be able to ski at higher speeds with greater control.

Ski Technique Tip: Practice carving on reds and blues. Don’t move onto blacks till you have it mastered.
Technique Skiing Exercises: Carving Drills

There are many ways to improve your ski carving techniques. Some of the below exercises should help you achieve the right movements for the perfect turn.

Hands on the Hips. Leave your poles at home (or at the bottom of the slopes) for this one. Instead, place your hands on your hips as you make your turns. Carving comes from the hips and physically touching your hips helps you to understand and focus on lateral hip movements. You want to achieve the greatest hip angulation as possible. You’ll notice that professional skiers’ hips almost touch the ground when they carve.

Ankle Rolls. While stationary (i.e. not on the ski slope), practice moving one knee from side-to-side. This is the basic movement you’ll make when rolling your knees on a turn. You should be able to feel your ankle move as your skis transition between edges. Once you have this basic movement mastered, take it to the slopes and practice moving both knees side-to-side as you turn.

Hip Rotations. At home, practice the basic motions you’ll need for hip angulations. Begin by standing next to a wall and actively press the outer foot into the ground and then lean your hips into the wall. As you progress, move further and further away from the wall. This exercise almost perfectly mimics the motion you’ll make on the slopes when carving.

Now that you’ve got carving down, you can take on the black slopes. Get ready for one amazing adventure.