Instruction

Man vs. Ski

Learn to let your skis do the work for you, and you'll master the carve.

Many skiers don’t know how to exploit one of the best features of a ski: the sidecut. A ski’s sidecut is designed to help you turn, be more efficient with your energy, and ultimately, carve. Carving, believe it or not, is one of the most efficient ways of skiing. Those who haven’t mastered the skill are expending more energy skidding through their turns than skiers who have learned to tip their skis on edge. More on that in a second, but let’s back up and talk carving vs. skidding.

A carved turn means that your skis are on edge throughout the turn and the skis’ tip and tail cut through the same point in the snow, leaving a clean arc in your wake. If you’re not tipping your skis on edge before your skis start turning in the other direction, you’re skidding—not carving. Many skiers who ski fast down blues and blacks think they are carving, but in reality, the majority of them are skidding down the hill. In a true carve, your skis will push you through the turn. Skidding happens when you push your skis through the turn.

If you want to carve, your goal needs to be to change edges before your skis change direction. This requires patience and precise intention. Your lower body (ankles, knees, thighs) needs to actively tip your skis on edge and hold them there throughout the turn. At the same time, your upper body must move in the opposite direction. Ready to walk the walk and not just talk the talk when it comes to carving? Here are some pointers to get you on the right track.

Carving 

Michael Rogan demonstrates changing edge on skis
Photo courtesy if Keri Bascetta

To carve, change edges before changing direction. Roll your ankles and knees while your skis are still pointing across the fall line. You’ll know you’re carving when you leave clean lines in the snow behind you.

Skidding

Michael Rogan demonstrates skidding on snow.
Photo courtesy of Keri Bascetta

Skidded turns happen when skis stay flat on the snow during the turn transition and you push the ski through the turn. The turn has already happened before skis start to tip onto their edges.

Carving Drills 

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  • Drill 1: Use your hands to help accentuate your skis tipping onto their edges. When turning to the left, use hands to push on the ride side of your knees to the inside of the turn. 
    • Goal: Feel feet tipping the same way.
Michael Rogan demonstrates a carving drill.
Photo courtesy of Keri Bascetta
  • Drill 2: Cross arms with poles across shoulders. When carving, the upper body leans opposite of the lower body. Use poles as a reference of how the upper body is leaning.
    • Goal: Poles tilt to the outside of the turn.

Video: Carving Tips from Michael Rogan

How to Break Through with Michael Rogan

Video not displaying correctly? Watch it here.

“Man vs. Ski” originally appeared in the December 2019 print edition of SKI Magazine and was written by Michael Rogan. You can get more great ski instruction tips delivered directly to your mailbox if you SUBSCRIBE NOW.