Carving

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Carving

Postby SteveH » Mon Jan 21, 2008 10:14 pm

I find that some riders and instructors tend to talk about carving as if it is a distinct type of riding. Coming from a skiing background, my tendency is to try to carve every turn as much as possible. For clarification what I mean by carving is getting the edge of the board moving forward cutting a narrow groove in the snow, with little sideways skidding (which creates a smeared track).

The logic is simple. When the board is carving it has the most control and requires the least effort. While there will always be some skidding, you can carve a short radius turn down a steep pitch as well as making high-G sweepers in wide open terrain.

Some tips that have improved my carving ability:

    Be patient initiating the turn. Rushing to get on edge too quickly overloads the edge causing a skid.

    Keep your center of mass over the edge. While it looks cool to lean way out over the snow, that turn will only hold in certain conditions. By staying over the edge you maximize the force holding the edge in the turn.

    Start extended and gradually get lower as the turn progresses. At turn finish, drive your knees (toeside) and butt (heelside) further down than you think you can or should. Getting low gives you the edge angle you need to resist the huge force pulling you to the outside of the turn.

    Once you complete the turn (lowest point, greatest force), stop resisting and let the centrifugal force pull you onto the new edge before changing direction. This is called getting an early edge. Using the force of the prior turn to pull you over the board is extremely efficient and creates a really fast edge change so you don't lose an momentum going into the new turn.

    When initiating the new turn, drive both knees into the turn. This subtly changes the shape of the board and smooths the flow over the snow. I don't fully understand how it works (anyone got a good explanation?) but when it happens you feel like the turbocharger just kicked it.


What does carving mean to you? What are your favorite techniques?

Steve
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Postby John » Tue Jan 22, 2008 9:03 am

Well, I'd say that carving--at least in its most "extreme" practice--IS a unique style of riding. I may have more to say on this later on, but right now I'd just like to get that out there.
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Postby bernwern » Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:10 am

Nice summary, SteveH. Hard to put it into words that people will understand, but I concur.

I ride the same way, taking carves moreso than skids/swipes. The only time I do swipes/skids is to speed check before jumps on in precarious situations (like grommets camped out in the middle of a run after I come over the top of the slope).

One way to visualize what was described is try to get first tracks on some groomers, then turn around and look at your line. You should see a narrow track of just an edge, not a wide board pattern. If transitioned properly, you will not see the flat-base mark as turns are lined, but rather a gap in between the carves because you actually get airborne just slightly as you transition.

Learning to ride like this is fantastic. You can go very fast down the slope while still taking a ton of turns, yet you do not use a ton of energy or wear your legs out. And if you carry enough speed, when you get to a nice wide open section you can actually lay out on toe-edge far enough to drag your knees and elbows while attempting to make a complete circle back up the slope and and around.....I have only done a few in my many years riding as the snow needs to be right, not to mention you need alot of speed and nobody in your way. Very awesome to actually complete one.

-B
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Postby Grizzled » Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:53 am

Carving or Alpine Snowboarding is a very distinct type of riding. The gear, stance and technique are quite different from your normal freeride set-up.

For me Alpine riding is about bombing the mt. at high speed & laying out those perfect trench digging carves, no skidding allowed.


bernwern wrote: can actually lay out on toe-edge far enough to make a complete circle back up the slope and around.....


pulled off a donut the other night. The extreme cold chased most people off the slopes over the weekend, and the high winds created a smooth hardpacked surface. Ideal conditions for carving donuts around the lift tower.

this is a great site dedicated to Alpine riding
http://www.bomberonline.com/articles/welcome_center.cfm
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Postby SteveH » Wed Jan 23, 2008 1:40 pm

John & Grizzled make the interesting point that hard boot setups favored by downhill racers, etc. facilitate carving better that wider, soft boot freeride boards.

By my definition (and bernwern's) you can carve a freeride board, just not as easily. berwern's reference to looking at the track illustrates it perfectly. Someone bombing down the hill throwing the back leg from side to side may be going fast with pretty good control, but he's working a whole lot harder than a rider getting up on edge and letting the board define the curve.

Steve
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Postby Grizzled » Wed Jan 23, 2008 3:17 pm

The carve is the ideal, cleanest, smoothest way to turn. You ride the board as its on edge carving. Your not forcing the board to turn one way or the other, skidding along & scapping the snow surface.

All boards will carve, some are just designed to do it better or to more extremes. Your gear and riding style have alot to do with it. If your riding a freestyle board with a duck stance you can only get so far on edge before your toes/heels start catching. Also a duck stance doesn't allow you to get your body into an ideal postion for extreme carving.
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Postby SteveH » Wed Jan 23, 2008 9:09 pm

Grizzled wrote:The carve is the ideal, cleanest, smoothest way to turn.


My sentiment exactly! When you transition from bumping and scraping to a clean carved turn, the increased control and decreased effort is amazing. Having the board bump and buck under you as it skids down the hill is exhausting. Riding a carve feels almost effortless in comparison. Out here where the runs are measured in miles you don't want rubbery legs halfway down the hill--and it just ain't cool to sit down in the middle of the run. 8)

Steve
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Postby bernwern » Thu Jan 24, 2008 9:51 am

[quote="Grizzled"If your riding a freestyle board with a duck stance you can only get so far on edge before your toes/heels start catching. Also a duck stance doesn't allow you to get your body into an ideal position for extreme carving.[/quote]

I partially disagree. I have size 11.5 boots and ride a Ride Yukon 168 (very long, but also a wide board). I still have heel/toe drag if I leave bindings at 0°. I have my stance slightly ducked (I think 19° front, 6° rear). By doing this, I have less drag...try it yourself.

I do think stance can impact ability to carve, but wider stances moreso than duck. Carving setups usually have hard boots and both feet angled forward, which I have found does not allow me to bend my knees as much as a traditional stance.....bending my knees gives me better shock absorption and lowers my center of gravity so I can make better carves. Then again, I am no expert at riding a carving setup.

-B
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Postby John » Sun Feb 10, 2008 9:02 am

Here's another site devoted to carving:
http://www.extremecarving.com/

It's run out of Switzerland, so sometimes the English is a little off. But it's got a lot of interesting text, and some movies that illustrate carving.

Actually, there are two forms of carving. The first, roughly speaking, is making non-skidded turns. In these turns, you're still more or less standing up, at least from the waist up.

In the second kind of carving, you get really, really low to the ground with your whole body. (Watch some of the movies on the site linked to above.) At least as taught by the folks at Extreme Carving, this second style of carving depends a lot on movements of the upper body. The standard techniques taught by AASI (the American snowboarding method) eschews a lot of upper body movement, working instead from the toes up.
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Postby MunkySpunk » Wed Feb 13, 2008 8:13 pm

I just laid my first carve lines last night.

Wow... sharp turns with very little loss of speed. I could just reach out and touch the ground as I carved toe-side I was getting so low. Of course, this didn't come without its whacks. I didn't take any real hard knocks, but I fell a decent number of times before I left my first smooth line.

I could really tell the difference between a good carve and a sloppy one. Granted, most of mine were sloppy.. it was my first try. But when it went smooth... oo-la-la. It was like the afterburner kicked in on the turn and you could hear the wind rushing past your ears. I checked out my lines on the lift going back up, many of them looked real wavy even though they were still single lines (again, my first attempts), but it wasn't hard to identify the ones I nailed down pat, smooth curves all the way around.
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my interpretation of carving

Postby Snowride » Thu Feb 14, 2008 10:50 am

It was interesting to read everyone's take on carving. I really liked the clear definition and description that Steve made. For me, I DON'T carve every time I ride, because I don't find it relaxing. Being almost 60, I have some issues with my knees. The flexing of the knees and ankles is what makes the carve, among other things (like letting the board edge ride out on its own and not pushing it). Terrain and conditions also determine how I ride (like I'm not even trying to carve on a powder day!!) When I'm just out there having fun and takin' it easy, I do skidded turns sometimes and carved turns when I feel like it. I find skidded turns less uptight and much more relaxing for my legs. Don't get me wrong, I love to carve a nice thin line down a wide intermediate uncrowded slope. But unlike some of you, I don't "carve" every time I ride.
I'm a snowboarding grandma approaching 60. Got a place at Bear Valley California and would love to hang with others like me.
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Re: my interpretation of carving

Postby SteveH » Tue Feb 26, 2008 12:11 pm

Snowride wrote:For me, I DON'T carve every time I ride, because I don't find it relaxing. Being almost 60, I have some issues with my knees. The flexing of the knees and ankles is what makes the carve, among other things (like letting the board edge ride out on its own and not pushing it).


Hmmm. I wonder if we are using different definitions. Carving for me simply means that the board is moving mostly along the tip to tail axis and less sideways. Unlike the extreme carving site that John mentioned, it does not necessarily imply high speed or edge angles. At lower speeds it's possible to slice a narrow track without deep knee bends. I've seen really skilled riders making short carved turns barely above walking speed.

In fact, I prefer to carve rather than skid precisely because it's easier on my legs and knees. When the board is moving sideways, it bounces and bumps over the snow and translates that vibration up through the legs. When the edge is slicing cleaning through the snow that vibration is substantially reduced for a much smoother and less tiring ride.
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response to Steve re: CARVE

Postby Snowride » Tue Feb 26, 2008 12:31 pm

I guess if you are going to get technical about it, there is a difference between the Basic Carve and the Dynamic Carve. I would say both use lower body flexion/extension. Here are some quotes from the Northern Rocky Mountain Snowboard Training Manual:

"The basic carve combines aspects of the basic turn with increases in edge angle. . . The fine tuning of edge angle is done by the ankles. . . It is the sidecut and edge angle that create turn shape. The board should leave a clean line in the snow. . . . the dynamic carve required more active body movements. There is more knee and ankle movement which tilts and bends, or de-cambers the board to create the turn shape. . . Flexion/extension movements of the ankles and knees bend the snowboard to control turn shape. . . again, clean lines are left in the snow."

I hate to disagree, but in my 7 years of teaching and 12 years of riding, I have never seen what I define as a carve at walking speed. It's possible to do it quite slowly, because you are basically riding it out on its edge. But walking speed???? What are you talking about? Power walker-speed or what?

A lot of riders call any dynamic turns carving. Carving a turn is very specific by definition. I have never been able to achieve it without a great deal of knee and ankle movements.
I'm a snowboarding grandma approaching 60. Got a place at Bear Valley California and would love to hang with others like me.
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Postby SteveH » Tue Feb 26, 2008 12:48 pm

Snowride,

Yes, we are using different definitions, and I readily admit that the "official" definition may be different from mine.

The key concept for me is the movement of the board along the longitudinal axis, regardless of speed. I contrast this with the common pattern of muscling the rear foot from side to side, typically with a lot of upper body rotation.

"Walking speed" is hyperbole, but as you point out, you can get a clean line at low speed. The body mechanics involved dictate that the edge angle necessarily relates to the amount of knee bend. But it is still possible to maintain forward movement along the longitudinal axis without a lot of edge angle. That may not meet the official definition of carving, but it is a more comfortable and controlled form of riding for me.
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Postby John » Tue Feb 26, 2008 1:05 pm

It's possible to get hung up on official definitions and dispute the meaning of this term or that. On the other hand, "official" definitions can help people if they result in everyone having a common understanding of what they're talking about.

The key concept for me is the movement of the board along the longitudinal axis, regardless of speed. I contrast this with the common pattern of muscling the rear foot from side to side, typically with a lot of upper body rotation.
What you're talking about here is the difference between skidding and not-skidding, not carving and not-carving.
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