Anyone who wants to snowboard should know that danger and risk lie lurking in this activity, but with some knowledge and constant practice, one can avoid physical injury or even death. For the beginner, one of the basic snowboard maneuvers to be understood and mastered is the carving turn.
Very simply put, carving turns are snowboarding turns that carve. In performing carving turns, the snowboarder uses the edge of the snowboard to slice through the snow while making a turn. Doing so carves a thin line on the snow instead of skid marks and will make the glide downwards smoother. Carving turns are very much similar to turning the toe-side or heel-side edges of a snowboard into the blade of an ice skate.
The snowboarder can begin practicing with toe-side or heel-side traverses. Traversing involves getting from one side of the slope to the other side while descending. When traversing to and from either side of the fall line, the board naturally angles upwards on its edge (either toe-side or heel-side edge). The snowboarder first needs to be comfortable with traversing before attempting to raise the board’s edge higher.
To make the most use of traversing practice, the snowboarder can try traversing with the board raised higher on its edge while traversing. This will require the knees and the ankles to flex more. The important goal of this practice is to learn to control the board while running down on edge and to avoid skidding. When one has developed confidence in traversing, she or he may start learning how to carve sharper turns.
On a moderately sloped hill, the snowboarder begins the downhill slide by pushing downwards with his heel or toes without leaning. Otherwise, the snowboarder will be thrown off balance. The upper body should remain upright from the waist up. Only the hips downward should be controlling the board—it’s all in the lower body, especially the front foot, which steers the snowboard.
The first thing to do when traversing on edge is to turn the upper body towards the direction that one is heading. Traversing is done by placing more of one’s body weight on the leading foot and moving together with the other foot. This means that the lower body tilts in the direction of the movement, and the upper body maintains the balance. The snowboard angles downward slightly when a traverse is done.
As the snowboarder continues to practice traversing on edge and making carving turns, he will realize that the higher the board tilts, the sharper the turn. Conversely, the lower the angle of the board’s edge from the snow, the smoother the turn.
Practicing with traverses or carving turns should never be done on deeply steep slopes. Though, as the one gains better control of the board, traverses, and edges, one can begin practicing on steeper slopes.
Carving turns are among the many reasons that make snowboarding a risky-yet-fun activity. For many, they can be a source of broken limbs or noses, but for those who know how to execute them and who are armed with knowledge, they can be a source of pleasure, delight, and a huge rush of adrenaline.