Sun Peaks, B.C., March 27 - April 1, 2004
Snowperformance carve camps teach a carving style that maximizes
stability and speed. For GS turns, the emphasis is on keeping
the torso facing in the direction of the bindings for both toe
side and heel side, with little upper body rotation. The style
stacks the bones in an angulated C shape, and is appropriate for:
- People who want to learn the fundamentals of snowboarding
on either plates or softies. The style applies whether or not
- People who want to race in either slalom or GS gates.
This style stresses several characteristics:
- Stability: The style maximizes the size of the balance zone.
If you get knocked around by the terrain or ruts, you have the
ability to react, brace yourself, and not tip over.
- Shock absorption: you can easily absorb the impact of bumps
on the terrain and ruts in the gates.
- Freedom of movement: You can quickly and easily transition
from one position to another when running gates.
- The style efficiently transforms the energy of the board
into speed for running gates.
The style does not emphasize:
- Getting low to the ground
- Doing extended laid-out turns
Keep angulated at all times by keeping your shoulders parallel
to the slope, otherwise you will fall to the inside of the turn.
Be careful to avoid losing angulation near the end of each turn.
Angulation should not be a static move - you should progressively
stretch the side of your body facing the inside of the turn, and
compress the side of your body facing the outside of the turn.
As a drill, hold a pole in both hands, and make sure that the
pole remains parallel to the slope as you carve.
Hips + Torso
For most of the turn, keep your hips and torso aligned with the bindings for
both heel side and toe side, with minimal rotation. A small amount of rotation
can be used at the beginning of the heel side turn.
Keep your torso upright:
- Don't try to lead the turn with your torso by twisting it
or by bending forward (breaking at the waist).
- Don't try to get the board high on edge by bending forward
with your torso - use your legs and feet instead. Drive your
back toe on toe side and your front heel on heel side.
Lead the turn with your hips. The rest of your body, including
the torso, comes along for the ride. Especially on toe edge, your
hips must lead the board by moving forward before your torso moves.
One drill for this is the butt grab: place your hands on your
butt while you carve. A good upper body drill is to visualize
pulling your toes up to your kneecaps. This move will cause your
knees to bend more, giving you more flexion. It will also force
your torso to stand more upright, and it will get your hips to
be more balanced over the board. Plus, it gets your board higher
on edge, especially on heel side. Other tips:
- Keep your torso quiet, and avoid up and down motion. The up and down motion
should come mainly from flexing and extending your legs.
- Also keep your upper body centered over the feet - don't
shift your weight fore/aft on the board.
You can get the board to track better by pressuring your rear shin forward
and to the inside of the turn, beyond your toes and against the cuff of the
boot - think of the space between your knees increasing. Exert this force down
into your right shin from your right hip. But also make sure you flex your front
knee at the same time - your legs should flex evenly. If you flex your back
knee more than your front knee, your weight will shift to the rear, and you
will fall to the inside of the turn. On toe side, keep your torso aligned with
the binding angles.
You can get the board to track better by pressuring your front
calf backward and to the inside of the turn, against the cuff
of the boot and slightly away from your rear foot - think of the
space between your knees increasing. When starting the heel side
turn, you can rotate your torso about 10º toward the nose
of the board. You will need to twist your head around to look
where you are going.
On both toe side and heel side, you should be able to get the
board to track without spraying snow.
Where to look
At the beginning of the heel side, you can crane your neck
and look over you shoulder to see where you are going. But as
you end a turn, do not look uphill past the direction of the bindings
before starting the next turn, otherwise:
- It will cause you to over-rotate, pull the board into a tighter
turn up the hill, and make it difficult to get the board moving
into the next turn.
- It will cause you to require a lot of cross-over movement
to get the board into the next turn.
- The over-rotation may cause you to fall to the inside of
To get your board higher on edge:
- When freecarving, be patient and wait until the board approaches
perpendicular to the fall line - that way, you have more time
to tilt the board before beginning the next turn.
- Use the tail spring pop out of the board to move horizontally,
- Pull your toes up to your kneecaps
Drill for GS butler turns:
- If you are regular foot, place your right hand behind your
back, and your left hand on your stomach.
- If you are goofy foot, place your left hand behind your back,
and your right hand on your stomach.
Now carve GS turns. This drill separates your upper and lower
body, and requires you to balance them independently. You need
to maintain your center of mass in a balance zone, and if you
leave the zone, you tip over. As a result, it also forces you
not to break at the waist. It is a great drill for balancing out
any type of carving style. Other tips:
- Unlike Slalom, when GS carving, you don't need to focus on
extending and retracting your legs - it happens automatically.
- If you use a short-radius board on a GS course, it will want
to turn too early - you have to be patient and hold off going
into a turn.
In slalom carving, the front foot does much of the work to
lead each turn:
- Roll your front foot quickly to make fast, clean transitions
between toe side to heel side.
- Use your front foot to make the toe side and heel side turns
symmetrical, with an equal amount of carving on each edge.
- Use pressure from your front foot to tilt the board higher
on edge and to make the board carve longer during each turn.
Visualize your front foot scooping into the snow to set the edge.
Slalom requires an aggressive style to both maximize the amount
of time spent on edge, and to make transitions fast. You need
to concentrate on driving a lot of energy into extending and retracting
- Focus on attacking each turn, and nailing each edge set.
- During the middle of the turn, push hard with both feet evenly
and extend your legs. To get your legs extended, think about
standing up in the middle of each turn. The board will lock into
a short, powerful carve, and provide a pop at the end of the
turn that will help you get onto the next edge.
- At the transition, aggressively suck the board up underneath
you to do a cross-under movement.
- Angulate on each turn, so that your shoulders remain parallel
to the slope.
- Keep your arms in a motorcycle grip pose for balance - don't
let them become fully extended. You should look like you are
on the attack.
- Think about keeping your hips and torso centered over your
feet, and your torso upright.
- Slalom takes concentration because you need to establish
a rhythm, and then maintain it for the length of a race course.
- In slalom, you can turn your hips and torso more toward the
direction of the fall line, so that your torso faces the direction
that your board is going, especially on heel side.
- Most people prefer flat bindings for Slalom, because you
want the board to be a natural extension of your body without
adding any additional leverage. If you use a lot of cant/lift,
you risk over-turning.
Gate Training techniques for GS and Slalom
All the action happen just before and just after you pass each
- Just before: Exert final pressure to round out the turn before
passing the gate
- During: relax as you pass the gate. You want to avoid applying a lot of
pressure to correct your board position as you pass the gate - your approach
should already be dialed in.
- Just after passing the gate, you need to make a quick transition
to a new edge - it should happen in less than a board length.
Getting early edge is key when running gates. Get on edge well
before each gate, so that by the time you get to the gate, you
are all set up and relaxed. If you need to feather the board
between gates to readjust the board direction, do it in the top
1/3 of the turn, right after you pass a gate.
You can use pressure to gain speed or bleed off speed:
- To gain more speed, you can use a pumping motion on the board
- apply pressure with your back foot as you approach the gate,
as if you are trying to get the board to wheelie, then shift
the pressure to your front foot.
- To bleed off speed, try not to fishtail the board. Instead,
push down hard on both feet evenly as you pass a gate.
- Both Slalom and GS require an aggressive, dynamic style:
stay away from static motion.
- For both Slalom and GS, avoid counter rotation: move your
upper body with your hips, and don't allow your upper body to
- Especially when running gates, relax the upper body: avoid
- Running gates requires a stable stance. Think about stacking
your bones into an angulated C shape.
- Think about pressuring with your shins - its gets the board
higher on edge and also gets you to angulate more.
- Look several gates in advance: don't focus only on the next gate. Visualize
riding down the course like flowing water, and seek the bottom of each gate.
- Avoid carving overly wide turns. As you pass a gate, have
your board pointed at the next gate, or maybe a few feet above
the next gate. Then pull the board up to create just enough curvature
for the turn.
- If you find yourself having trouble turning, drive more with
the back foot.
- For gates, you always need some flex in your limbs. If you
fully extend your legs and arms, you will lock yourself out,
limit your movement, and compromise stability.
Carving on steeps requires fast yet nimble moves: avoid jamming
the edge on the snow. Keep your torso aligned with your bindings
- you have more leverage to quickly hop from one edge to another.
Change edges quickly on the steeps by use an unweighting move
- retract your legs slightly and think about doing a subtle cross-under
movement. Your board will stay in contact with the snow, but it
will transition to the new edge faster. Other tips:
- Don't stay in the turn until the board is perpendicular to
the fall line: end the turn 3/4 of the way into the turn.
- Angulate. A good drill is to touch your outer hand to one
of your boots.
- Avoid over-rotating your torso, because it can cause you
to fall to the inside of the turn.
Bumps and Rollers
Use bumps and rollers to assist with the quick unweighting move to change edges
- time your turns so that when you retract at the edge change, you are going
over the downhill part of the roller.
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