Snowboard carving: cut turns without wipeout

Snowboarding stands for freedom and living out your own self on the slopes, in the park or in deep powder snow. Snowboard carving is an advanced art form that takes a lot of time to master. Therefore, you should practice riding slippery curves sufficiently beforehand. Skiinfo gives you tips and tricks for proper snowboard carving.

There are laws of physics behind the tight turn when carving. The idea of cut turns is to use the snowboard’s waist and bias by tilting it onto the edge appropriately. The centrifugal force created (cornering force) and the high edge pressure allows you to edge the board more, to steer better in curves by shifting your weight and to vary the radius of the curve.

Snowboard instructions for beginners

You have your complete snowboard equipment, slept in and put on your comfortable functional clothing. Board and binding are individually and properly adjusted to you – you stand hip-width, relaxed and centered on your snowboard. The weather is nice, the snow is good – optimal conditions – then it’s time to make the first experience with the snowboard.

©Olya Lytvyn

Warming up and stretching

Light uphill runs and a few simple jumps from the squat position will get your circulation going and warm up your muscles before your first run. If your heart and breathing rate are up, your blood is now properly oxygenated, your muscles and joints mobilized, then follow some basic stretching exercises for your neck, shoulders, back, arms and legs. If your muscles are properly warmed up and stretched, then the risk of injury is much lower.

Board training

It’s your first time in the snow and for that your snowboard must be worn and properly. Gloves should be worn, because the board is gripped in the middle of the edge with the binding facing outwards (the nose points slightly upwards) and clamped under the arm. Of course, you can’t hold your snowboard tightly under your arm all the time. But to prevent your board from sliding away, it is placed in the snow with the binding facing down, so even if it is left unattended on the mountain, it is well secured.

When you later go up the slope on foot with the snowboard, you do not always have to get both feet out of the bindings. It is enough to unstrap only the back foot and then push the snowboard like a stair step with the toe edge crosswise into the snow and then step by step go up the slope.

Strap in

Find a flat area on the mountain with soft groomed snow, where there is little activity. First of all, be sure to attach the leash to your board and front foot before placing the board with the base on the snow. To prevent your snowboard from sliding away while you are fully strapping it in, place your back foot half on the board and half in the snow or use your knee.

"Regular" is when you ride with your left foot in front, so riding towards your right foot is called "goofy". Due to the "Duck Stance", the slightly open stance on the board, this is not crucial in the beginning. The preferred direction of travel will be determined by itself as you go along.

Remove the snow from the boot and binding and slowly slide your front foot as far back as possible into the binding until your heel is flush with the high back. Now tighten the Ankle Strap until it is tight and comfortable, then tighten the Toe Strap.

Do not strap on the back foot at first. This will save you time and energy in the beginning while you practice first maneuvers, work on your balance and learn how to use the chairlift. Only after you have practiced skating, gliding, turning and stopping with the snowboard, you can also strap your back foot into the binding.

Falling correctly

Falls are inevitable while snowboarding, especially while learning. In order for this to go smoothly, it is important to learn the correct falling technique in the beginning, so as not to injure your wrists and knees, which are usually affected.

If you fall over the toe side, lower your center of gravity and clench your hands into fists. Immediately before contact with the ground, the legs are stretched out and you slide forward on your forearms. You should avoid a hard impact with your knees and wrists if possible. To prevent your snowboard from tilting, lift it out of the snow at the back of the board.

Falling down with the snowboard and getting up again must be well practiced. | ©Ahturner

Falling over the heel side is a little smoother. You again lower your body center of gravity, squat down, this time bending your arms in front of your chest and resting your chin on the chest. Before touching the ground, do a round cat bend and roll over your butt and back. This avoids hitting your head and whiplash. Once you are on the ground, the board is lifted out of the ground.

Getting up

Before you try to stand up, your body should be naturally above your snowboard. Bring your board across the slope and press the heel side firmly into the snow to avoid slipping while you stand up.

To stand up over the heel side, bring your center of gravity as close as possible to the snowboard, grab the toe side with one hand and pull yourself over the board while pushing yourself off the ground with the other hand. Bring the body’s center of gravity over the snowboard and stand up gradually.

Standing up over the heel side is strenuous and requires some strength. The good news is that it is much easier to stand up over the toe side. If you are lying on your back, you first have to turn around to get into the kneeling position. To do this, lift your legs and roll over the tail of the snowboard. Now you just have to push off the ground with both hands and stand up.

More beginner tips for snowboard carving:

Snowboard Carving Instruction

Skiing at an angle without sliding

The first step to carving is to practice skiing at an angle with a greater cant angle, as well as more bent knees and ankles, both front and backside. Keep the board on the edge while riding across the slope as if on rails without sliding.

Cut turns

If you can safely traverse the slope on the edge without sliding, then turn your board slightly downhill and cut back uphill while staying on the edge. While doing this, make sure that the nose and tail are going through the same track, so that the tail of your snowboard is causing the turn. Afterwards, check the track you left in the snow. If it is a narrow, cut line through the snow, then you have done it right. If the track is chaotic and sloppy due to too much sliding, you need to work on it even more.

As you become more confident, you can turn your board further and further into the fall line until it finally points exactly downwards and you ride back up with a cut swing. Practice until you can safely ski cut on both edges. Experiment with different edge angles to feel that more board tilt and higher edge pressure results in more control and tighter turns.

Ryan Knapton – the world’s best snowboard carver:

Connecting cut turns

Now you are ready to connect several cut turns together. As soon as you have made a turn back uphill, tip your snowboard onto the downhill edge. Exactly, on the downhill edge. In most cases this would result in a "wipeout", but with the carving technique the waist of the board pulls you into the next cut turn.

To make the turns blend smoothly, adjust the number of upward turns and use the shape of the turn to control their speed. As always, of course, as your confidence increases and your skills improve, practice on steeper and steeper slopes. At higher speeds, make sure you’re in a wide area, away from obstacles or people who might get in your way while you’re carving.

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