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Difference between parallel turns and carving? [a Beginner Zone question]

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

Hi.  I have been reading these forums for a while, and now I have my first question.  What is the difference between carved turns and parallel turns?  I think I can parallel turn, but I am not sure.  I have skied only 4 days, and had one lesson...also, are parallel turns skidded at all?  Thanks.

post #2 of 25

Parallel turns just mean that your skis are parallel throughout the turn.  Carving means your turn contains no skidding.  I'd be more concerned that my turns are round than if they are carved.

post #3 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by SamSkis View Post
 

Hi.  I have been reading these forums for a while, and now I have my first question.  What is the difference between carved turns and parallel turns?  I think I can parallel turn, but I am not sure.  I have skied only 4 days, and had one lesson...also, are parallel turns skidded at all?  Thanks.

Welcome to EpicSki!  Let's see if we can get one of the instructors to answer your question.

 

Paging @TheRusty , @LiquidFeet , @L&AirC@tetonpwdrjunkie . . . looking for an answer in the Beginner Zone.

post #4 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by SamSkis View Post
 

Hi.  I have been reading these forums for a while, and now I have my first question.  What is the difference between carved turns and parallel turns?  I think I can parallel turn, but I am not sure.  I have skied only 4 days, and had one lesson...also, are parallel turns skidded at all?  Thanks.

There are two different things you are referring to in your question.  First, there's how your skis are positioned relative to each other (wedge or parallel), and second, there's how your skis travel across the snow (skidding or carving).

 

Wedge turn:  ski tips are close together while ski tails are somewhat apart; the two skis point towards each other, forming an "arrow."

Parallel turn:  both skis point in the same direction; they match; they are parallel.

 

Skidded turn: as your skis travel along a curved line down the hill, they are skidding; they slide/slip/scrape across the snow in a direction a little different from the direction they are pointed.  Skidded turns can be done in a wedge or parallel.  If the skis are parallel, they travel close to but not exactly in the direction they are pointed.  If the skis are in a wedge, you can think of your wedge as an arrow pointing in a direction.  The skis will travel more or less in the direction the arrow points, but neither ski by itself is pointing exactly in the direction of travel.  When you are making skidded turns, whether you are in a wedge or parallel, you get friction from this skidding. That friction slows you down a bit.  (Think of a knife spreading butter on toast; it slides across the bread the same way the skis slide across the snow.)   Most people begin skiing with skidded turns.  It often takes recreational skiers a long time to learn to carve.  

 

Carved turn:  your skis will be parallel, and both will be up on edge, not flat or nearly flat on the snow.  You will be balancing on your skis in a very precise way that tips them rhythmically from one set of edges to another.  The edged skis will bend, slice forward through the snow on their edges, and make sinuous turns down the hill because they bend.  They will both be slicing forward through the snow in the direction they are pointing.  (Think of a sharp knife cutting a tomato in half.)  They will leave pencil-thin tracks in the snow showing where they just went, and you can turn around and see these tracks.  Carving is fast as there is very little friction from the skis scraping against the snow.  Racers learn to carve because it's fast.  


Edited by LiquidFeet - 3/16/14 at 8:43pm
post #5 of 25
Hi SamSkis,
Welcome to epic!

As voghan stated, in parallel your skis are just that. They do pretty much the same thing at the same time. The key here is what they aren't; in a wedge. So most turns are usually parallel once you are past skiing in a wedge.

A parallel turn can be carved, skidded, steered, smeared or any other combination you can think of just as long as the skis remain parallel to each other.

A carved turn is done by getting the skis up on edge and working the mechanics of the ski to have the skis carve into the snow/ice leaving two (parallel) thin ski tracks.

A basic parallel turn, or steered turn will usually leave ski tracks that are more smeared and a bit wider.

Another way to look at it is in a steered turn, the skier is only using the bottom of the ski and base edge. On a carved turn, the ski is tipped up on its side so the side edge is engaged and that is what you are riding; hence the thin ski tracks.

Hope that helps,

Ken
post #6 of 25
In parallel turns, the same things happen to both skis at the same time and the tails of the skis follow the tips through the arcs of the turns. If the tails follow exactly the path the tips take, leaving thin marks in the snow, the turns are carved. If the tails take a somewhat wider path than the tips, the turns are more steered/smeared.
post #7 of 25

Let's put it in an concrete example.  When you hop turn, your skis are (theoretically at least) parallel.  But there is pretty much zero carving going on.  You can also carve a turn while not being exactly parallel.  A wedge turn using the edge of a modern parabolic ski may actually be carved (w.r.t. the outside ski, of course, not the inside ski) but is not parallel.  That was something that was simply not possible in the old days of straight skis, which is from whence the notion comes that carved turns are a subset of parallel turns.   

post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by gdeangel View Post
 

Let's put it in an concrete example.  When you hop turn, your skis are (theoretically at least) parallel.  But there is pretty much zero carving going on.  You can also carve a turn while not being exactly parallel.  A wedge turn using the edge of a modern parabolic ski may actually be carved (w.r.t. the outside ski, of course, not the inside ski) but is not parallel.  That was something that was simply not possible in the old days of straight skis, which is from whence the notion comes that carved turns are a subset of parallel turns.   

Yup! except that I would say it was still possible on classic sidecuts too, just took a bit more skill.

post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by bud heishman View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gdeangel View Post
 

Let's put it in an concrete example.  When you hop turn, your skis are (theoretically at least) parallel.  But there is pretty much zero carving going on.  You can also carve a turn while not being exactly parallel.  A wedge turn using the edge of a modern parabolic ski may actually be carved (w.r.t. the outside ski, of course, not the inside ski) but is not parallel.  That was something that was simply not possible in the old days of straight skis, which is from whence the notion comes that carved turns are a subset of parallel turns.   

Yup! except that I would say it was still possible on classic sidecuts too, just took a bit more skill.

Keep in mind that the OP is a beginner who has skied all of 4 days so far.  So hop turns and straight skis are well outside his experience.  Let's keep the discussion as simple as possible in this Beginner Zone thread.

post #10 of 25
Parallel turn: Skis are parallel as you turn

Carving: Skis are on their edges and turns are smooth arcs (S rather than Z)

Skis will usually if not always be parallel when carving (unless you're on one ski, lol), so carving is essentially good smooth parallel turns.
post #11 of 25

Parallel turns, skis are parallel to each other.

Carving - strict definition: skis are on edge and cutting the snow like a curved knife moving forward at each and every point of the cutting edge in a direction of motion that exactly matches the direction that is tangent to the curved cutting edge at that point.

post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 

Thanks everybody, I get it now, I have been doing (I think) parallel turns, skidded/steered or smeared.  But why would someone want to carve, is this for advanced skiers on groomers? 

post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by SamSkis View Post
 

  But why would someone want to carve, is this for advanced skiers on groomers? 

 

Ohhhh!, grasshopper….. come to the other side;)

post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by SamSkis View Post
 

Thanks everybody, I get it now, I have been doing (I think) parallel turns, skidded/steered or smeared.  But why would someone want to carve, is this for advanced skiers on groomers? 


Carving allows you to ski both faster and with lots more control in many situations.  Think about ski racing.  Slipping and sliding down icy courses is not efficient (and a good way to get killed).   That is why Warren Witherell's comment, "Put a ski on edge, pressure it correctly and it will take you where you want to go."  was so important.  Caving is efficient, and there is nothing like the feel of it... well, at least when not skiing in powder.

post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by quant2325 View Post
 


Carving allows you to ski both faster and with lots more control in many situations.  Think about ski racing.  Slipping and sliding down icy courses is not efficient (and a good way to get killed).   That is why Warren Witherell's comment, "Put a ski on edge, pressure it correctly and it will take you where you want to go."  was so important.  Caving is efficient, and there is nothing like the feel of it... well, at least when not skiing in powder.

All right, that works for me...do people carve on blacks/double blacks?  Wouldn't they get out of control? 

post #16 of 25

Learn to carve on wide empty beginner slopes, then take it to empty green slopes on the way back to the lodge.  

Carve on the blues when you know you're ready, and when there's no one there for you to run into.

Use your carving skills in spring slop, while your buddies are on the deck enjoying the sun and nursing their sore quads.

Leave carving the black groomers to the racers, who have been carving at speed on ice with appropriate race skis since childhood.

 

Skidded turns offer more versatility for skiing the whole mountain. 

Decide to learn it all and go for it!

post #17 of 25
Carving it's just mo better.
post #18 of 25

 

I like how Josh defines how much edge you want to use around the mountain as tactical.  There are no absolutes and carving isn't the end all be all.  I've learned a lot form watching Josh's videos on YouTube and I really like his technique.

post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by mowmow View Post

Carving it's just mo better.


Yup.  It feels better and also works better at everything except limiting speed.

post #20 of 25
Yep the steeper ground is still a challenge for speed control with me.
post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by SamSkis View Post

All right, that works for me...do people carve on blacks/double blacks?  Wouldn't they get out of control? 

Yes. The two ways to shed speed are to skid or turn, and when carving by definition you are not skidding, so the only recourse is to keep turning away from the direction gravity is pulling you. Even then it can get pretty damn fast on a longer stretch, so not something to try until you are very comfortable with doing on blue (and be able to switch to skid at will to scrub speed if necessary).
post #22 of 25

I carve on blacks and double blacks, but when I do I am skiing very fast.  I used to do it all the time when I was young and foolish. I'm a little wiser now and often have to "shut 'er down".   You can only shed so much speed without using some braking through skidding, unless it is a very wide run.   If the run is wide enough to turn all the way uphill, then the game is changed.

post #23 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

I carve on blacks and double blacks, but when I do I am skiing very fast.  I used to do it all the time when I was young and foolish. I'm a little wiser now and often have to "shut 'er down".   You can only shed so much speed without using some braking through skidding, unless it is a very wide run.   If the run is wide enough to turn all the way uphill, then the game is changed.

Allowing for traffic, of course.
post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

I carve on blacks and double blacks, but when I do I am skiing very fast.  I used to do it all the time when I was young and foolish. I'm a little wiser now and often have to "shut 'er down".   You can only shed so much speed without using some braking through skidding, unless it is a very wide run.   If the run is wide enough to turn all the way uphill, then the game is changed.

Allowing for traffic, of course.


Yes, of course if traffic is in the way, shut it down!  You never can tell which way the traffic will suddenly veer.

Also, very important, take any blind corners very wide and with great care, even on the green runs; you never know what's around the corner.

post #25 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by SamSkis View Post
 

Thanks everybody, I get it now, I have been doing (I think) parallel turns, skidded/steered or smeared.  But why would someone want to carve, is this for advanced skiers on groomers? 


Not a direct answer, but this is from a thread in Ski Instruction in answer to the question "How do I carve without ultimately building up too much speed (and crashing!!)?"

 

Quote: 

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/130058/how-do-i-carve-without-ultimately-building-up-too-much-speed-and-crashing#post_1789667

 

Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post
 

Any way you look at it, there is one inescapable truth from which we cannot hide. It has been discussed innumerable times here in the past, but I'll restate the principle briefly:

 

There are two, and only two, ways to slow down on skis (and anything else, for that matter):

  1. Increase resistance to sliding ("Speed control from FRICTION"). 
  2. Go uphill ("Speed control from DIRECTION").
  3. (There is no third way.)

 

One--"friction"--refers to using technique to control speed directly--including your skis as brakes by twisting them to some angle to your direction of travel and engaging the edges for an intentional skid. This category also includes things like falling down, and running into things like moguls, trees, and snowboarders, although some methods are generally more approved of and politically correct than others. Technically, physicists may take exception to my use of "friction" to describe all of these things, but it gets the idea across, and besides, it rhymes (with "direction")--so sue me.

 

The other--"direction"--refers to tactics, while using "technique" directly to control direction, not speed. It invokes the principle I often refer to as "skiing a slow line fast"--skiing a "slow enough line" as fast as you can (ie. carving as cleanly as possible, not braking), when you can (and braking when you have to). You must lose any association of those carved turns with speed control (directly) and think of turning not to control speed, but to eliminate the need to control speed.

 

And--critical to your question, LeagueofDraven--the two are mutually exclusive. The more you use one, the less you use the other. "Carving" means, among other things, skidding (braking) as little as possible and ideally none at all, while using your edges to cling tightly and precisely to your chosen line (direction). "Braking" means skidding intentionally, and the purest form of braking--the so-called "hockey stop"--involves no direction change at all. Interestingly, "speed control from direction" requires a full commitment. If you keep your brakes on and skid intentionally, you sacrifice some control of direction, such that you may not even be able to complete a turn.

 

So the short of it is that, if you are focusing on carving on a slope that is steep enough that you need to manage your speed, you have no choice but to control speed through "direction." You must use tactics--you must ski a line (complete turns, or using natural features such as little uphills, sides of gulleys, and moguls) to eliminate the need for braking (skidding--destroying your nice carved turns). 

 

It's really that simple. Direction, or Friction--and carving eliminates the latter option. There is no third option.

 

Best regards,

Bob

Note that this thread is in the Beginner Zone, which is carefully moderated.

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