Why Snowboard Carving Is Important & When You Need To Carve

Snowboard Racing

(note – this blog is all about carving and assumes you know what a carve is, if you haven’t progressed to learning to carve yet, I recommend starting on our beginner snowboarding tips first to avoid confusing yourself)

Today’s reader question:

When should I carve? Is carving something I should always aim to do every time I turn or does it have a time and place?

Very good question. The thing about carving is we talk about carving as a skill everyone has to learn eventually, but we often skim over the whole why and when part of carving tutorials.

So here’s why and when you should be carving.

Why carving is useful in snowboarding

Here’s why carves are generally better then skidded turns (the turns you first learn when you start snowboarding):

  • Very precise control
  • Less speed loss when turning (no skid)
  • Creates pressure which can be used to power into a turn or execute a spin

That’s basically it, but you probably know this much since this is what you’re usually told when you first learn to carve. So let’s get into the ‘when’ of carving.

When should you be carving

Honestly, here’s the twist. I don’t carve most of the time. I throw the odd carve into my turns, but it’s a mixed bag of different turning techniques depending on the situation.

I’m pretty sure it’s not just me either since I know a lot of good snowboarders who only carve a little here and there (and when they do freestyle).

There’s really 2 areas on the slope where I’ll do a lot of carving:

  1. Freestyle / park riding
  2. Groomed runs

I do enjoy some high speed carves on a groomed run, but even then my carves tend to be mixed with just bombing straight down the hill (straight lining) and speed checks when I get too much speed.

Don’t forget if there’s powder you can’t exactly carve anyway, and I live in a snow heavy resort (Whistler).

It’s very rare when I’ll do just back to back carved turns non-stop down a run. If I’m not taking some instructor’s test or teaching someone to carve I don’t really have a reason to be doing carve after carve after carve.

It’s not like I’m a¬†boarder-cross¬†racer who HAS to get maximum speed from every turn, so I enjoy mixing it up and doing what I feel like doing depending on the terrain.

Now don’t take this to mean you can’t ride down a run and do back-to-back carves non-stop if you want, because by all means, go ahead and carve your heart out. Absolutely nothing wrong with carving, heck it’s good practice to carve anyway.

I’m just saying it’s not required and once you’ve mastered carving you don’t need to carve non-stop if you don’t want to. Carving is a skill that’s useful and a great method for turning, but it doesn’t mean you have to do it all day every day.

You can mix it up and use carves when you need the control, power or speed.

Alright, so besides your every day ski run carving, you’ve also got your freestyle carving. Freestyle is basically the reason I practice carving and the reason I use carving every day that I go snowboarding.

Why carving is so important to freestyle snowboarding

Carving is how you create spin in snowboarding. If you want to learn any trick involving spins of 360 or more, you HAVE to learn to carve properly and that’s the bottom line.

Not learning to carve basically cripples your snowboard freestyle progression because you’ll suck at spinning and it’s the reason learning to carve is the building block that EVERY freestyle coach teaches you if you want to start learning to spin.

So there you go. That’s why I practice my carving and where I use my carving. Hope that answers your question.

– Jed

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  1. I’ve ridden on groomed hills all my life and now going on holiday in 2 ft of powder…. How do snowboard technique differ from one to the other….I see in the article above that you carve very little in powder. I’ve never been in the habit of heading straight down the hill as I want to live through the landing at the bottom! Any tips for me

  2. Hey quick question. even though it may stupid I just want to know 2 things in the same question, Carving can be used to help you slow down OR speed up, right???

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