More Tips
Back to The Carver's Almanac


First, it is necessary to point out that the info on this page is a compilation of opinions from various sources and is not a definitive guide to carving technique.

Carving Instruction

More than any other sport, there is a total lack of consensus as to what constitutes proper carving technique. Different instructors teach radically different styles. If you posed a question to a group of three carving instructors, you would probably get four different answers. In particular, the biggest discrepancy seems to be where your torso should face:

Carving styles seem to fall into a spectrum that spans two extremes:

Independent of those two styles, there seem to be two primary techniques:

It's best to learn from several instructors and pick and choose techniques to see what works best for you. Getting good instruction is vital: it's worth spending more money on instruction than on gear when you are first learning. In addition, it's important to find an instructor who can help tweak your stance setup so that you won't be fighting your equipment while you are trying to learn, which means the instructor should also be knowledgeable about carving gear adjustment, as well as bootfitting.

Unfortunately, it's hard to find instructors who can effectively teach carving. That's because an instructor who tries to teach carving based on conventional snowboard fundamentals will likely steer you in the wrong direction, and set you back skill-wise. In addition, the carving style used for race training may not provide the right learning curve for the type of carving that you are look to do.

A lot of carvers aspire to the G-force style because it feels like riding a roller coaster. However, the instructional aspect of the G-force style is complicated by a monkey wrench known as the bumblebee effect. If you were to describe the G-force style to an instructor fresh out of snowboard instructor school, the instructor would explain to you why this style couldn't possibly work, and how it would result in skidding out on every turn, even on the best terrain and conditions. Yet some of the best carvers can go rail-to-rail, in perfect half circles, down steep ice using exactly this technique. A few years ago, scientists finally figured out why the bumblebee is able to fly, despite having aerodynamics that seem to make it impossible. Perhaps the same thing will eventually happen with the G-force style of carving. Also because of this phenomenon, instructors with the best insights have invariably gone through a phase where they have completely revised their notion of what constitutes proper carving technique. In general, there are two types of good carving instructors:

Which means you need the name of someone with a reputation, otherwise you are wasting money. Check out lesson summaries from these instructors:

Instructor Carving style Details
 Flo Jayme - Squaw Valley USA G-force Lesson summary
 Doug Dryer - Ultimate Carving G-force Lesson summary
Snowperformance Camp - Sun Peaks Speed Lesson summary

If you decide to roll the dice with your local snowboard school, first ask if there is a designated carver who can teach on plates. If there are no designated carvers, ask for someone with racing experience who can teach on an alpine setup. Canadian CASI level IV instructors are certified on plates. Get the earliest lesson of the day, which not only has the best grooming, but often comes with an "early bird" discount. (In the spring, you may have to wait until the bulletproof ice has thawed.)

Ideally, you want to find an instructor who carves exactly the way you want to carve. If you can't preview the instructor, there are a few approaches:

If you find an instructor with a clue, you should work on the cross-through technique for carving the steeps and ice, because you can use it anywhere on the hill.

Inside vs. Outside

When talking about what your body does in a carve, always use "Inside" to refer to the direction toward the hill, to the inside the turn. Use "Outside" to refer to the direction away from the hill, toward the outside of the turn. It's too confusing to talk about uphill / downhill or right / left.



Carving is a form of human origami. Some of the G-force carving styles require extreme body contortion, and part of the process of learning involves teaching yourself to become more angulated than you thought possible, to bend your knees more than you thought possible, and to twist your body more than you thought possible. If you were born with elastic double joints, you have the advantage. Because the body positions are so extreme, it often takes a few runs at the beginning of each day to recall all of the muscle memory. Even advanced carvers start the first run of the day looking useless, and then progressively recall the right body positions over the course of the next 2-3 runs until the muscle memory fully returns. Even if you are experienced, you will probably tip over on the first run of the season. Many carvers require up to 6 days of riding before returning to the skill level they had at the end of the previous season. When you are a beginner, it might take you half a day to recall the right body movements after a week of not carving. This warm-up period can be disconcerting, because by the time you have recalled your technique, the slope will be chopped up.


Angulation involves keeping your center of gravity over the carving edge while you crank the board high on edge. Angulate your body by compressing the outside part of your body linkage and expanding the inside part of your body linkage like an accordion. To achieve balance, your bones should be stacked over the carving edge. If you lose angulation for even an instant, either at the beginning, middle, or end of the carve, you will likely wash out. A few tips and drills assist with angulation:

Carving involves paradoxes that trip up beginners, and one of the paradoxes has to do with angulation. Laid-over carving allows riders to get close to the snow, sometimes skimming both forearms during a carve. Beginners often attempt to achieve the same result by reaching for the snow and tipping their inside shoulder. But this move only results in an edge wash-out because you will lose angulation. In order to get your body close to the snow, you have to move it away from the snow. The correct method is to angulate your body away from the inside of the turn. The more you bend away from the snow, the higher you can put the board on edge, until the board is so high on edge that your body is close to the snow. If you focus on angulation (keeping your weight over the carving edge), then you will naturally achieve inclination (leaning your whole body close to the snow). When you see expert carvers laying it down, what you see is an optical illusion - it looks like they are leaning their body toward the snow so their hand touches it, but in reality, they are pulling their body away from the snow so their hand does not touch it.

Another way to describe the approach is by using the terms "cantilevered angulation" or "progressive angulation," where the angulation, and the edge angle of the board, feed off of each other in a continuous cycle. More angulation results in more board tilt, which allows more angulation, in a symbiotic, yin/yang sort of way.

Counter Rotation

When carving GS turns, you should lead the turn with your body: First your body turns, starting with your hips, then the board follows. As you progress through the turn, don't stop turning your upper body: continue to lead the board with your hips and shoulders until the next edge change. Letting the board get ahead of your body at any point in time is called counter rotation, and there are three scenarios:

  1. Counter rotation with opposing upper body: It involves abruptly twisting your upper torso in one direction to get the board to turn in the opposite direction by using conservation of momentum. Newbie softbooters sometimes use this technique, often without bending their knees. After this type of turn, the board is pointing in one direction and you are facing the opposite direction, which affords zero control and no chance of carving. You can also max out your twist, run out of rotational angle, and fail to turn the board as much as you want. Because this technique maintains constant rotational momentum throughout the turn, it is the fastest way to turn the board, and in fact you can spin the board in place. The only times you should use this technique are when you need to take quick emergency countermeasures, or when you are gliding on the flats at low speed and need to make a quick 90º turn into the lift line. You can also use counter-rotation to weave your way through a crowd on the flats before a lift line by swinging your arms around: this method is called "Counter-rotation kung-fu"
  2. Counter rotation with quiet upper body: This technique is the cross-under slalom racing style. Your body faces down the fall line while the board makes quick transitions back and forth underneath you. It is not effective for GS carving. However, this type of counter rotation is required for slalom racing, riding moguls, or going through the trees.
  3. Counter rotation at the finish: Your body leads the board at the beginning of a GS turn but then lets the board catch up to it at the end of the turn. Counter rotation at the finish causes you to carve less efficient trenches that will deviate from a perfect circle.

When carving GS turns, avoid counter rotation by bringing your outside hand toward the inside of the turn, twisting your body to the inside of the turn, and looking uphill toward the inside of the turn. Then keep leading the board all the way to the edge change. CERN has a web page on the evils of counter-rotation.

The technique used by the ExtremeCarving people requires riders to completely eliminate counter rotation.

Look up to hookup

In addition to getting rid of counter rotation, some carving styles require over rotation, which involves twisting your body aggressively into the slope in order to carve perfect half-circles. For this style, you can visualize carving a figure-8: Even though the board will not point uphill, you can visualize bringing the board uphill by over-rotating (for each hump of the figure-8). By ending the turn with your torso twisting uphill, you can generate the windup that you need to dive into the next turn, and you can use this extra energy to crank the board higher on edge.

Avoid petting the dog - don't let your outer hand lag behind you. Instead, bring your outside hand across the board as you transition into the turn to provide more twist. Ideally, you want to carve the turn with both forearms parallel. This style also requires that you look uphill, at the point where your board would go if it were to follow the path of a circle back up the hill - but it won't because you change edges before then. In this style, you don't look where your board is going to go; you look where your board would go but won't. If you aim for the over rotated method, you know you are doing it right because it will feel more efficient, and you will be able to carve a perfect half-circle instead of an ellipse - check your trench from the chairlift to verify. A side benefit of the over-rotated style is that you can take a look to see if someone is about to run into you. However, this style requires that you tilt the board high on edge - if the board edge is too low, you are likely to skid out on heel side.

Weight shift

Right after an edge change, you need to enter a carve with your weight toward the front of the board, and shift your weight back as you progress through the carve. This method is often called "feeding the dollar bill." Do not start a carve in the middle or back seat. Use your legs to get your weight forward - don't do it by breaking at the waist and bending over too far, or you will bury the nose and go over the handlebars. When carving fast turns on the steeps, you may not have time to do the weight shift. In this case, you don't have to actually shift your weight - it is sufficient to merely think about shifting your weight to get a small bit of extra edge hold. You know you are doing the weight shift correctly if you get a lot of tail spring from the board without trying for it.

Getting edge sooner

When carving on the steeps, it is critical to tilt the board high on edge early in the turn so that you can control your speed. One method is to use a diving turn. While the board is perpendicular to the fall line at the transition, crank the board to its highest angle using your knees and hip. This movement should happen in less than 1/4 of a second. After that 1/4 second window has elapsed, you won't be able to effectively squeeze much more angle out of the board during the rest of the turn. With this technique, on heel side, you will be going into the turn blind, since you won't be able to see where you are going while the board is perpendicular to the fall line. It is essential that you learn to trust your board to catch you coming out of the turn. There are a couple of tips to get high edge early:

By tilting the board high on edge, you should be able to get the board to carve a turn radius that is much tighter than the sidecut radius of the board. What this means is that you can power a large sidecut radius board into a smaller radius on the snow. When you crank the board high on edge, it's going to generate centripetal force that counteracts the force of gravity, which will slow you down, so this high edge angle technique works best on steeper slopes. If you try it on the flats, you will come to a complete stop.

Edge transitions

There are a few ways to change edges:

If you are a beginner, you can start off with the cross-over technique, then work you way to the cross-through style, with a bit of cross-under on crowded days.

Heel side

A lot of carvers are plagued with edge hold problems on heel side, which can appear as two phenomena: wavy trenches or chatter.

If it feels like the tail of the board is oscillating back and forth, you are probably leaving wavy trenches. It happens because the nose and tail of the board are each trying to carve a different radius. There are two ways to fix this problem:

If the entire board chatters or washes out, it means you are unbalanced, or the board is twisting. Some remedies:

Use the Force

Visualization is important. Spend a minute at the top of the slope visualizing what you are going to do. Plus, you have to wait at the top anyway until the family of floundering, skittish, novice skiers finishes the run. Some people use a carving style that only works on perfect snow, and other people radically change their style depending on the snow conditions. Everyone seems to have a totally different technique, and your skill will get better after you watch and hang out with other good carvers, since the skill set seems to transfer by osmosis.

Beginner progression

Here is one possible skill series that beginners can follow.

  1. First focus entirely on angulation, by keeping your shoulders parallel to the slope. As a drill, fully extend your inside arm so that it points straight up the slope: this motion will force your collarbone to tilt, keeping your shoulders parallel to the slope. Do not let your inside shoulder dip. You can also try the "chicken wing" pose, where you keep your inside hand at your chest, point your elbow to the inside of the turn, and raise your elbow so that it points up the slope. (If you start to fall, bring your elbow into your body to avoid shoulder dislocation)
  2. Now, increase your angulation by bending your knees, getting a little lower, and tilting the snowboard higher on edge, while still keeping your shoulders parallel to the slope. Try to develop an accordion bend, by expanding the side of your body facing the inside of the turn and compressing the side of your body facing the outside of the turn. Don't lose your angulation near the end of the turn, and don't break at the waist.
  3. While maintaining angulation, work on twisting your body into the turn so that you carve a more circular arc. To aid your body rotation and angulation, move your outside hand across the board, or try touching your outside hand to your front foot. Look slightly uphill, and face your body slightly uphill. Focus on pulling the board all the way to the end: don't let the board get ahead of you. The idea here is to get rid of counter rotation. This skill comes in two phases:
    • First you work on your toe side turns. Without a good toe side turn, it's hard to enter a heel side turn with enough control to practice the technique. Over time, your toe side carves will become tighter and more controlled.
    • Once you are able to master the toe side, you will have enough control to start practicing on heel side. After you improve on heel side, you get a feedback effect - your toe side turns will be even easier, which in turn improves your heel side. This is usually when carvers experience their first breakthrough.
  4. While maintaining angulation and twist, focus on entering the turn with your weight forward, then shift your weight back as the turn progresses. You should start to feel a pop as you get some tail spring to help the board change edges.
  5. While maintaining angulation, twist, and weight shift, focus on doing a cross-through: Instead of rising up and then flexing back down to change edges, stay low all the time and bring your body straight across the board.
  6. While maintaining angulation, twist, weight shift, and cross-through movement, start entering each turn early, by performing the cross-through movement before you think you need to turn. Early turns will tighten up your carves and allow you to carve on your downhill edge at the very beginning of a turn. Think of pressuring the board up the slope at the beginning of the turn, while the board is perpendicular to the fall line.
  7. While maintaining angulation, twist, weight shift, and early cross-through movement, work on adding a burst of angulation at the start of the turn (the beginning of a diving turn) to get your board higher on edge so that you carve a tighter radius on steeper slopes.

Other tips for beginners:

Advanced Carving

Riding bumps and Moguls

For moguls, you can use the same cross-under technique used by skiers. Keep your torso facing down the fall line with your arms posed like you are holding a tray of cookies while the board zips back and forth under you. Keep your upper body quiet so you don't drop the cookies. Use your front foot to make the tip of the board follow a zipper path between the moguls, and swing your back foot side to side, setting the edge on the side of a mogul and then pushing off with the tail to bleed off speed. Keep your center of gravity low and maximize your leg extension. Try to keep the board out of the gully between moguls: try to set the edge on each mogul a foot or so above the valley. In addition, you can tweak your setup for moguls:

Carving the Steeps or ice

Use the cross-through technique: it will

If you go into panic mode, your sphincteral reaction will be to stand up, which is the wrong thing to do, since you lose angulation and board angle. Train yourself to get lower on the board when you panic. Think of fighting back against the slope by cutting into it with more angulation and a deeper knee bend. Think about slicing into the slope by dynamically flexing the board, and by shifting your weight from front to back. Staying low requires a lot more leg power, but do not let yourself stand up, no matter how tired you get. If you find yourself frequently standing up later in the day, bag it and head to the bar. Other tips:


While carving, some tricks are possible:


Eurocarve turns (also called Vitelli turns or V-turns, named after Serge Vitelli) involve a quick extension of the whole body in the middle of a carve. Eurocarving typically requires perfect timing and hero snow, and doesn't work well on the steeps. It also helps to have a long, stable, narrow board, and be able to get the board high on edge as soon as possible. However, it's difficult to link a series of Vitelli turns in quick succession, and the early eurocarving pioneers (Serge Vitelli, Peter Bauer, and Jean Nerva) usually performed Vitelli turns on toe side, without linking consecutive turns. Get your cross-through technique nailed, then try Eurocarving.

PureBoarding style

The PureBoarding style uses a surf stance, with binding angles of around 55°/20° on a wide board. The stance has a few advantages:


ExtremeCarving is a version of the Push-Pull technique taken to the extreme, on steep groomed hardpack. See an in-depth discussion in the ExtremeCarving chapter.

Pitch and Terrain

As you get better, you will get slower. That's because you will be able to control your speed by getting the board high on edge and making tighter turns, which generates centripetal force that counteracts gravity and slows you down - think of it as "engine braking". Beginners often accelerate beyond their control because they can't make tight, high-angled turns. As you get slower, you will need to advance to steeper terrain in order to maintain the speed necessary to carve. Be aware that as you get better and slower, people are more likely to run into you from behind because you will be traveling down the fall line more slowly. Facts about terrain:

Double-arm Carving and the flight model

Most carvers aspire to double-arm carving, which happens when you are leaned over so much that both of your forearms are skimming the snow on toe side and heel side. It can be achieved two ways:

More tips

Skier conversion

Of all the folks on the hill who are captivated by a carver railing turns, ski racers are the ones most genuinely interested in trying it out. That's because they aren't scared of hard boots, and they have already tasted carving to a certain extent on skis in a race course. These folks generally "carve" more than softbooters. It's also quite easy for ski racers to pick up snowboard carving, especially when coached by someone who can explain snowboard carving in skier language.

Carving Sessions

You can improve your technique by attending one of the many carving sessions that are organized throughout the year.

Other tips

A call for versatility

In 2002, Transworld Snowboarding asked Craig Kelly "What do you respect about other riders?" He responded by saying "I really like seeing riders who can carve turns and also pull big tricks and big moves."

Back to The Carver's Almanac