Chapter 5 – Advanced Carving
If you recall for the basic carving we learned to edge our outside ski in order to turn, for the advanced carving we need to edge both skis at the same time. This might sound easy but believe me this is truly an advanced turn and requires lots of skill and practice.
Firstly let’s experience how it feels to carve on both skis. Start with you skis pointing across the slope in a traverse position, edge both skis as much as you can with you weight spread evenly across both skis and point your tips slightly down the hill (say 30 degrees), using you poles to stop you from moving forwards. Then let go with you poles and hold this position all the way across the slope. The idea being to carve evenly on both skis across the slope. Due to you skis being edged you will naturally turn up the hill to a stop.
Now take a look at you tracks in the snow, if you have done this correctly you will see two perfectly even rail tracks in the snow, if not you might have a nice clean track from your bottom ski and a slightly blurred track from the top ski. This is the usual mistake as previously you have been taught to put most of your weight on the downhill ski and this is what you have done, remember both skis evenly weighted! In order to do this correctly you might have to move your hip just a couple of centimeters up hill in order to get more weight over the up hill ski, this should in fact be bringing you weight back into the middle as you probably without knowing it moved your weight more over your down hill ski.
You should practice this until you can do it perfectly in both directions, the key being that your weight is totally balanced in the middle and it is the edging of the skis that is turning you and nothing else.
Next keep increasing the start angle step by step until finally you are starting straight down the hill. This way you learn to trust your skis that they will actually turn you. Once you can set off straight down the hill with your skis edged, hold this static position as you head off down the slope allowing the natural edging to turn your skis until you come to a stop pointing back up the slope, then you are ready for the next step.
The key to putting this all together is to identify the neutral point in the turn; this is a very interesting point to dwell on. Where in the turn are your skis changing edge? When your skis do change edge there will naturally be an instant when they are running totally flat on the snow, this is the neutral point. In our basic carving the neutral point was when we were pointing straight down the hill, in advanced carving this point is much earlier in the turn in the middle is the ‘S’. If you think about out traversing exercise at the end we were starting with our skis pointing straight down the hill but fully edged! Not flat. This is exactly what we want to achieve in our advanced carving. In practice this is very difficult to achieve since we need to release our old edges and set the new ones in the middle of the turn, in order to do this we at some point in the middle of the turn will have our feet higher up the mountain than our body. This is the Holy Grail of expert skiing, and is a real leap of faith, fundamentally after this transition point you will have your uphill ski on it’s inside edge and you down hill ski on its outside edge whilst still going across the slope. This has the feeling that you are falling down the slope and will probably face plant down the hill, but then as if by magic the new turn happens ( because your skis are edged) and the centrifugal force keeps you in perfect balance. Once you feel this for the first time you will be totally addicted to this type of turn, it requires almost no energy, is totally quiet, perfectly smooth and your skis feel incredibly stable and in control. This is how skis are designed to turn and you are simply using the technology as it was intended.
In order to make this difficult transition easier to master, start from you basic carving turn and slowly make the transition earlier and earlier in the turn until it is in the middle of the ‘S’. Trying to keep more and more weight on you uphill ski until you weight is balanced over both skis. Also when changing edge try to think of moving your knees together or your uphill knee first thus making way for you down hill knee. This way you keep a constant distance between your knees at all times.
As feedback to see if you are actually doing advanced carving, stop and look at your tracks. You should see two perfectly parallel lines throughout the whole turn with a short transition period in the middle. It is very important that you keep your skis a fixed distance apart and don’t have the tendency to get wider in the middle of the turn, if this happens you are pushing your outside ski out too hard, relax more and let you skis to the turning.
This is how you can ski with much less effort as you are just edging the skis to turn and not using lots of energy, you are quite simply riding on the skis. To vary the radius of the turn simply adjust the amount of edge. Earlier I told you that pressure and edge were interchangeable and in this turn we are using maximum edge and minimum pressure i.e. less effort!