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The True History Of Carving

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Like many of you, I'm very interesting in skiing's general history, although I personally know little about the history of technique. I'd like to figure out when "carving" began. I look at old films, such as this (http://www.olympic.org/uk/utilities/...ed iaType=vid) of the great Toni Sailer at Cortina in 1956, and I think I see some carving. But Sailor's slalom technique seems beautiful and strange, partly because his skis are so long!

Among my questions:

Did carving begin in the 1990s?

Was the carving craze driven mainly by changes in ski design and technology?

Exactly when did it become institutionalized and who or what promoted it?

Are we in a post-carving period? Has it peaked as a notion?
post #2 of 28
Carving probably began when the first Svede sharpend his hoting ski to much after a round of lively spirits.
post #3 of 28
I can see some carving and some scarving going on. Carving has been going on for decades, if not centuries. However it is only since the use of sharp metal edges that carving on icy race courses and hard snow has become more common.

Here's some carving of LR turns circa 1975. http://archives.cbc.ca/IDC-1-41-417-..._canucks/clip1

and 1979 http://archives.cbc.ca/400d.asp?id=1-41-417-2433 . I don't know about the other disciplines, but I can assure you that in Downhill, the idea was then and still is to keep your speed up by NOT letting the edge skid.
post #4 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost
Carving has been going on for decades, if not centuries. ...
Any idea about when the term "carving" came into wide use, assuming that the technique predates carving nomenclature? Isn't it possible that people deeply invested in the notion of carving might be at least somewhat susceptible to "carving up" (excuse the pun) skiing's history of technique? I'm not saying you're doing that, of course... Great vids, by the way!
post #5 of 28
Did carving begin in the 1990s?
No.

Was the carving craze driven mainly by changes in ski design and technology?
Yes, the craze was.

Exactly when did it become institutionalized and who or what promoted it?
Racers were the main utilizers of carving prior to shape skis. I was taught to carve in the early 60's.


Are we in a post-carving period? Has it peaked as a notion?
No, and it's not going away anytime soon.
post #6 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
Did carving begin in the 1990s?
No.

Was the carving craze driven mainly by changes in ski design and technology?
Yes, the craze was.

Exactly when did it become institutionalized and who or what promoted it?
Racers were the main utilizers of carving prior to shape skis. I was taught to carve in the early 60's.


Are we in a post-carving period? Has it peaked as a notion?
No, and it's not going away anytime soon.
This is all very interesting. But you say that racers were the main utilizers of carving prior to shape skis. Are you saying that because racers were told to avoid skidding (and hence, to carve), or because a technique specifically called carving was in use? If I went back to ski magazines from the 70's, for instance, do you think I would find a single reference to "carving" related to racers or ski instruction in any instance? Was it ever called carving, in a formal sense, before shape skis came along? I have a sneaking suspicious that people invested in teaching and otherwise selling carving today are revising skiing's history to suit their needs. But perhaps I'm way wrong about that?
post #7 of 28
wbroun,

The word ''carving' was in general use when I started in 1972 and refered to using the ski to make an arc on the snow. Carving has been the holy grail of skiing for at least that long.

yd
post #8 of 28
as long as the ski tip and tail were wider than the waste of the ski, there has been carving.
post #9 of 28
Thread Starter 
It seems pretty clear, again, that skiers have been in some capacity taught to set skis on edge for many years. That's no surprise. It's also clear that skis were carving, as Phil says, "as long as the ski tip and tail were wider than the waist of the ski," though obviously an untapered ski can run along its edge and turn without skidding, albeit for a short time before the skier feels very unsteady. But it is the historical origins of the culture of carving that I'm finding impossible to pin down. A lot of the responses above seem vague, though I appreciate them all.
post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by wbroun
This is all very interesting. But you say that racers were the main utilizers of carving prior to shape skis. Are you saying that because racers were told to avoid skidding (and hence, to carve), or because a technique specifically called carving was in use? ?
I was specifically taught the principles and advantages of CARVING in the 60's, and the nomenclature for the skill was the term CARVING.

Quote:
If I went back to ski magazines from the 70's, for instance, do you think I would find a single reference to "carving" related to racers or ski instruction in any instance?
I was also taught by my race coach to ski with my feet well apart back in the 60's. Bet you won't find much on that in the Ski magazine archives either. As I recall, most of the instructional advice in Ski back then was PSIA based. There was a bigger disconnect between PSIA and the race community back then. My race coaches used to make fun of the way instructors skied with their feet locked. Instructors thought racers skiing was crude/unrefined and ugly.

Don't think that just because carving wasn't practiced by the masses years ago that it wasn't a recongnized and taught skill. It's just that the new equipment has now shined a light on it by making it a more viable option for the recreational level skier.
post #11 of 28
In 1970 I was skiing on an experimental Blizzard ski that had the same sidecut as what we now refer to as shaped skis.
post #12 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by wbroun
It seems pretty clear, again, that skiers have been in some capacity taught to set skis on edge for many years. That's no surprise. It's also clear that skis were carving, as Phil says, "as long as the ski tip and tail were wider than the waist of the ski," though obviously an untapered ski can run along its edge and turn without skidding, albeit for a short time before the skier feels very unsteady. But it is the historical origins of the culture of carving that I'm finding impossible to pin down. A lot of the responses above seem vague, though I appreciate them all.
Rick's answers, while somewhat cryptic, are dead on.

The "culture of carving" has existed for decades, but not as a mainstream skiing thing.

Before the shaped-ski "revolution", you pretty much had to be a ski racer or fan of ski racing in order for carving to appear on your radar screen. Racing has always involved a quest for the best possible carved turn given the circumstances in the course and the state of the equipment. Racers have been taught forever that the fastest way to get down a course was to carve more than you skid. Warren Witherell's classic book "How the Racers Ski" was written in 1972, for God's sake, and it has carving all through the book.

The main reason that carving didn't really enter mainstream ski thought until the mid-90's was that most mortals couldn't *hope* to carve a turn on the older straight skis and almost nobody even tried (except for racers). The movements and speed it took to actually carve an 80's-era GS racing ski were simply beyond what most recreational skiers could accomplish.

When shaped skis started appearing around the mid-90's, it really did cause a revolution. Turn radii and ski lengths starting coming down, skis became much more "bendable", and carving started to be something nearly attainable for a hack like me, rather than the exclusive province of a tiny fraction of the skiing population.

So, a culture of carving has existed for a long time, but it maybe wasn't a culture that looked at the pure carved turn as the *goal* so much as it considered a carved turn one more tool in helping a ski racer go faster through a course. Today, on the other hand, the carved turn has actually morphed into the Holy Grail for many skiers who may never have run a gate in their lives.

Bob
post #13 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters
... So, a culture of carving has existed for a long time, but it wasn't so much a culture that looked at the pure carved turn as the *goal* so much as it considered a carved turn one more tool in helping a ski racer go faster through a course. Today, the carved turn has actually morphed into the Holy Grail for many skiers who may never have run a gate in their lives.

Bob
Wow, terrific response ... along with Rick's, that gives me many pieces of the puzzle. I definitely want to look up Witherell's tome. Not to be a pain in the bazookas, but a slightly different question: do you think carving was being consciously taught in slalom racing back in the 60s? This video of Jean-Claude Killy's (http://www.olympic.org/uk/utilities/...&MediaType=vid) performances at Grenoble, '68, clearly shows carving during the downhill and GS. But I can't quite "read" his slalom technique. (The run is stunning in many ways, of course, pure magic and myth.) Is Killy carving on the slalom, on those huge skis? Was carving strictly a downhill and GS thing back then? And what did they call the technique Killy uses on the slalom? By the late 80s, it seems obvious that carving as a technique reigns supreme, even in slalom. Take a look at Tomba's carving slalom at Calgary, '88 (it's the top of the three videos, called "Highlights"): http://www.olympic.org/uk/utilities/...e diaType=vid

So, from what I can tell (and please correct me, if wrong), it seems that carving as technique has been associated with regular slalom skiing only recently (since the 80s?), but that carving as whole skiing culture only exploded AFTER it got established by regular slalom racers?
post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sidecut
In 1970 I was skiing on an experimental Blizzard ski that had the same sidecut as what we now refer to as shaped skis.
As did Olin.

They had the idea, they just didnt have the materials to do it. They could not get a ski stiff enough torsionally without making the whole ski stiff.
post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by wbroun
So, from what I can tell (and please correct me, if wrong), it seems that carving as technique has been associated with regular slalom skiing only recently (since the 80s?), but that carving as whole skiing culture only exploded AFTER it got established by regular slalom racers?
Since you said please, I will correct you.

It seems you want us to confirm your preselected answer of "carving" being a recent thing, but all of the posts seem to indicate otherwise. Some carving can be seen in the first video (of slalom skiing), so can a bit of a snowplow-wedge (not the slalom portion). I think carving only took a short break from slalom for the j-turn years, during which the j could be seen as a disjointed carving technique.
post #16 of 28
The 60´s brought not only Beatles but also
- more advanced constructions and better skis (e.g. Rossi Allais 60 and other)
- higher, stiffer and finally plastic boots
- the beginning of effective grooming producing harder trails
which enabled the racers to carve (some of) their turns, first in DH, then in GS

Compared with the 60´s and 70´s, the slalom technique of the late 80´s seems to be "carving" already but real SL-carving started as late as the SL-ski got sidecut small enough to carve most of the turns in the SL-course - at least IMHO

As always, it´s also the matter of definition what a carved turn is.
I read an interview with Toni Sailer a few years back in the German SkiMagazin where Big Toni says he and his rivals were already carving but in DH and GS only.
If you watch the movies from Olympics 1956 you would hardly define their style as "carving" - at least not by today´s standards.

I have a large collection of literature and sources on "carving" but I don´t have time now to look for some of the "firsts". Maybe later, maybe when I need it for some purpose.

BTW, the gap between the racers´ and ski teachers´ techniques and the racers making fun of teachers skiing with their feet glued together was a worldwide phenomenon. To my memory, both groups used to be maybe even more antagonistic than alpine vs. crosscountry skiers or skiers vs. snowboarders later.
post #17 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by wbroun
...

So, from what I can tell (and please correct me, if wrong), it seems that carving as technique has been associated with regular slalom skiing only recently (since the 80s?), but that carving as whole skiing culture only exploded AFTER it got established by regular slalom racers?
wbroun:

I don't want to try to come off as some expert on carving (mostly cuz it still eludes me most of the time), but this is a subject that fascinates me.

I think you've got the idea right but not necessarily the sequence. I believe that carving was most definitely a *desireable* thing in slalom racing even in Killy's time and before. I think the problem was that the skis and particularly the boots just made it nearly impossible to actually *do* a carved slalom turn in the kind of radius necessary.

Killy skied slalom on 207cm Dynamic VR-17 skis and first-generation Lange boots that barely came above the ankle. It took an act of God (or Killy) to make those skis actually bend into reverse camber. I can't locate any right now, but if you look at photographs of the slalom skiers from that era, you'll see legs that are trying desperately to lay those skis over on edge, but the boot/ski connection just wasn't burly enough to transmit all the forces to the skis. I think those skiers *knew* that a carved slalom turn was better and faster, but I'm not sure they could physically make a strong, carved slalom turn with any regularity.

Patrick Russell caused quite a stir around that time with a sitting-back, or "avalement", slalom technique. I think essentially what he was doing was initiating a turn any way he could and then once he had the bulk of the turn completed he would rail on the back edges to lock the skis into a carve. This made for a *very* fast exit out of the turn, but it was also very difficult to maintain balance and line given the equipment.

What I'm trying to say is that I think all those racers intuitively knew that a carved turn was better, but it was hardest to do in slalom because of the radius of the turn required.

Others might argue, but I think it was Ingemar Stenmark who *really* brought the precise carved turn to slalom. When he was in his prime, nobody in the world could carve a turn like he could. He sometimes won World Cup races by three and five SECONDS! I had always assumed that he was just better balanced and a technically better carver than anyone else at the time. I recently was talking with a friend of mine who raced on the WC circuit at the same time as Stenmark. My friend tells me that, aside from being nearly perfect technically, Stenmark was flat-out STRONGER than anyone else on the circuit, so he was more capable of harnessing the unbelievable G-forces generated by a high-speed, low-radius carved slalom turn.

So, I don't think you can point to some particular magic moment in time when carving "exploded". As the skis (and boots) evolved, carving became more possible for a wider range of skier. I don't think it has anything at all to do with slalom racing because slalom has always been a little bit of the redhaired stepchild of big-time ski racing.

Bob
post #18 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost
Since you said please, I will correct you.

It seems you want us to confirm your preselected answer of "carving" being a recent thing, but all of the posts seem to indicate otherwise. Some carving can be seen in the first video (of slalom skiing), so can a bit of a snowplow-wedge (not the slalom portion). I think carving only took a short break from slalom for the j-turn years, during which the j could be seen as a disjointed carving technique.
I'm learning fast, thanks. For a technique history novice, such as myself, what is a j-turn? And when were the j-turn years?
post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters
Others might argue, but I think it was Ingemar Stenmark who *really* brought the precise carved turn to slalom. When he was in his prime, nobody in the world could carve a turn like he could. He sometimes won World Cup races by three and five SECONDS! I had always assumed that he was just better balanced and a technically better carver than anyone else at the time. I recently was talking with a friend of mine who raced on the WC circuit at the same time as Stenmark. My friend tells me that, aside from being nearly perfect technically, Stenmark was flat-out STRONGER than anyone else on the circuit, so he was more capable of harnessing the unbelievable G-forces generated by a high-speed, low-radius carved slalom turn.

So, I don't think you can point to some particular magic moment in time when carving "exploded". As the skis (and boots) evolved, carving became more possible for a wider range of skier. I don't think it has anything at all to do with slalom racing because slalom has always been a little bit of the redhaired stepchild of big-time ski racing.

Bob
Bob,

I agree with your comments on Stenmark, he is one of a few people in sports that they had to change the rules for. Stenmark was so good in Slalom and GS that he would accrue enough World Cup points to with the overall World Cup title. The FIS changed it, so he would have to compete in every disapline inc the newly formed Super G and Downhill.

To expand on what Bob said about him winning by seconds (in races that are measured to the hundreth of a second), but usually after the first run, he was always running second or third. All of his time was made up in the second run.

He also put Marker and Elan on the ski equipement map.
post #20 of 28
I'm not so good with dates, but there was a time somewhere between ('75 and 2000 )when slalom skiers could get better time aiming straight at the break-away gate, and then at the last possible instant jam their skis into the snow and essentially carve the last part of the turn. The race skis that were suitable for this type of turn were not made for making smooth S or C shaped arcs like a carving recreational skier such as myself, or DH or SG racer would make, but were suitable rather for making a J - shaped turn. With the advent of very short slalom skis, the j-shaped "turn" has been replaced.
post #21 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost
I'm not so good with dates, but there was a time somewhere between ('75 and 2000 )when slalom skiers could get better time aiming straight at the break-away gate, and then at the last possible instant jam their skis into the snow and essentially carve the last part of the turn. The race skis that were suitable for this type of turn were not made for making smooth S or C shaped arcs like a carving recreational skier such as myself, or DH or SG racer would make, but were suitable rather for making a J - shaped turn. With the advent of very short slalom skis, the j-shaped "turn" has been replaced.
Many thanks!
post #22 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ott Gangl
In 1944 in Germany where I first started skiing seriously on skis without edges, not needed, and where the bindings consisted of bear traps and leather strap around the heel holding the low boot in the traps, Heavy rotation and banking was the only way one could ski.


When I have a lot of vertical today with ankle deep snow and a wide open slope I do some banking turns, they are less tiring if done right. Those turns are a Schwung/swing in the truest sense, long lazy turns, and to go from one turn to the next is very easy, like and upside down pendulum, the skier lessens the bank toward the end of the turn and just lets the body flow over the skis which changes the edges. It is done with a closes stance, the skis touching each other.g



These were the turns used by the old women in long flowin skirts in my home town when they came from the woods loaded with heavy bundles of chopped branches for firewood strapped to their backs with ropes.



Take a tour of the off-piste with a guide in the Arlberg and you will see the guide skiing the 5000 ft vertical in long sweeping banked turns.

....Ott
I can imagine these old women carving these long swoopy turns.
Ask Ott about them.
post #23 of 28
I was aware of it in college when I was learning to ski in 1966 because my buddy was on the ski team and was always talking about trying to carve more and skid less, but I was vague on how to at that point. My greatest insight was Warren Witherell's "How the Racers Ski" circa 1972 which has great pictures laid out exercises for learning to do pure carved turns on the gear of that era. Carving on pre-shape ski equipment was predominantly the domain (tho not exclusively) of racers. Racers were strong enough, precise enough, created high enough edge angles, and skied fast enough to carve with the tools of the day. Most non-racer skiers could not muster up all of those components to put together carved turns with the quality and consistency of the race community. The advent of shaped skis reduced the strength, speed, high edge angle and much of the precision requirements and made carving available to the masses. Yahoo for all!
post #24 of 28
Since my name was brought up: I taught carving in the 1960s already, but you must realize that because of the ski shape pure carving was not what could be done by mere mortals. Carving then was basically to put the skis on a high edge angle and put very hard forward pressure on the boots which would translate into bending the shovels of the skis and make them bite. The ski would carve to under-foot but the tail, not being wide, would chatter or wash somewhat.

The general public was not very interested in learning how to carve since most of them were still struggeling with parallel, only about a quarter of skier could ski parallel.

I'll attach some pictures I shot 41 years ago at a slalom race, do you see anyone carving?

...Ott







post #25 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ott Gangl
I'll attach some pictures I shot 41 years ago at a slalom race, do you see anyone carving?

...Ott
Fantastic pictures. When you look at a more contemporary slalom skier, such as Alberto Tomba (see below), do you see any important differences in his carving technique compared to the skiers you photographed? Perhaps the one difference I note is how bent his inside leg is compared to the first two skiers in the set you've shared, Ott. Does anyone else have a better way of "reading" the Tomba picture vis a vis the older slalom skiers?
525x525px-LL-vbattach100.jpg
post #26 of 28

mmm

Perhaps the term "carving" has evolved in application?

From

The person carves the ski (athletic)

to the claims that

The ski carves the person (passive)

Take RR turns, a passive ride carved turn not discussed in any depth until the late 90s.
post #27 of 28
Speaking about SL, the change in slalom poles (1985, if I´m right) was an important milestone. Even prior to that racers started to keep their frontal position and box the pole away with the inner arm instead of evading them in the old style.
You can see it on many pictures of this time including Stenmark.
With poles ducking away (I can´t think of the appropriate English term now and am in a hurry) the new technique favoring carving the turns was facilitated.
Jonas Nilsson, SL world champion 1985, was the first new-style winner internationally.
As early as 1986, Sweden came with its ski curriculum advocating the new technique.
1984, Stenmark experimented with some shaped skis and he even won a parallel slalom with them but didn´t have courage enough to use them in a race (or they weren´t good enough - I would have to ask his serviceman Jure Vogelnik when I see him next time ).

As to "carved turns": Joubert used the term (I don´t know which the English equivalent was) as early as 1961.
You find a profound theoretical explanation of a carved turn on a shaped ski in a 1957 thesis by a German Fritz Reichert at the Sports University Leipzig, East Germany ("Der Einfluss der Skitaille auf die Richtungsänderungen in der Abfahrt" = the influence of the sidecut on the change of direction).

The first shaped ski using some sort of carving was the old telemark ski in the 1850-1860´s in Telemarken, Norway.
There´s even a mention of the shaped form of the ski and the resulting curve in Zdarsky´s Lilienfelder Skilauf-Technik from 1897.
The idea and even a drawing of the ski shape influencing turning is to be found bei Luther 1914 ("Die bogenlaufende Wirkung des gekannteten Schneeschuhs").
There some thoughts about a shaped ski at Frank Harper, 1949.
There was a shaped ski in 1964 in Slovenia (Debeljac, Kaninke).
Etc. etc.
post #28 of 28
>>>>Perhaps the one difference I note....<<<

Having covered many ski races in my 35 year photojournalism career I may speak with some authority on this : THE ONE difference between the Tomba picture nd the ones of Pepi Gramshammer and Ernst Hiterseer is 30 YEARS. Also, there were no break-away gates, slalom skiers had to ski 'around' those bamboo poles.

...Ott
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