or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › Why don't more people carve? (started in "Ski Softly" thread)
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Why don't more people carve? (started in "Ski Softly" thread)

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
>...I do look around, and virtually everyone on the slope is
>riding on a short shape ski but I don't see substancially more
>people carving quality turns than I did back in the days of the
>old straight skis. How can that be? These skis turn so easy,
>why aren't people using them to do what they are designed to

This comment by FastMan appeared in the thread, How to Ski Softer.

I didn't want to derail that conversation, but I think his observation is correct, and the question he posed deserves serious consideration. FastMan proposed one possible answer:

>...To carve a quality turn, no matter how short a radius a ski
>may allow, a skier still must have established the necessary
>balance, edging skills, and body positions that will allow for
>the incorpotation of carving skills.

At some level, this *has* to be one component of the answer, however, I think there is something much more fundamental going on, namely (to bring up an old friend), lack of intent. I don't think most recreational skiers want to carve. Its scary, its unfamiliar, it doesn't seem to control speed, especially early in their skiing lives, when they want low speeds and tight turn radii. Unfortunately, this is exactly the time most lock in habits they will carry with them for the rest of their skiing lives.

I guess my previous sentence is probably obvious to most long time participants in this forum, but I'm wondering if anything else contributing to the widespread lack of carving? For example, does crowding cause them to always invoke the "when you can" part of "ski the slow line fast, when you can", so most never build up the requisite skills to do short R carves?

Another possibility - a significant number of advanced skiers are taking paths close to pure carves, but intentionally keep a bit of a skid mixed in (ie, a skarve) for the usual purposes, but this means that their track will be "brushed" and hence, their closeness to carving not casually noticed?


Tom / PM

[ March 08, 2003, 07:49 PM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #2 of 38
Maybe we have nothing better to do with our slope time here in the mid-west, but there has been a revolution of skiers getting into carving around here over the last 4-5 seasons. Not just the obvious intructor and racer crowd, but upper end general public skiers as well. The early learners are still skidding, but maybe less so.

The variety of Intents is still widespread (saw some classic wedlen today) but the bias has shifted to more carved turns. The tracks all over the hill tell the tale. It looks like a Arc-O-Rama festival! Many are shallow falline arc park-n-riders as yet to learn the shaping skills to complete full rounded "C" shaped arcs, but they are getting there.

I see opportunity for specific program offerings catering to the slice-n-dice crowd. :

[ March 08, 2003, 08:40 PM: Message edited by: Arcmeister ]
post #3 of 38
I have been diligent in working on my carve turn. Sometimes frustrating and other times exhilarating. I have found that extending my downhill ski away from my center of mass creates a wider stance and enables me to pressure my uphill ski more effectively. In this manner I can bring my skis around much faster in the turn and control my speed without skidding. Once you've felt the power of the carve you never go back. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #4 of 38
At our resort there are many more carvers than there was a while ago. There are arcs all over the hill. 97% park n ride somewhere in their turns. 97% of the carvers are not in a good power position and are back with the inside hip down and the inside ski diverged. This is much easier to do in a wide track. They hang onto the turn and quickly hunkover and grab the oposite edge. They love it, one size turn all day long.

Lord help you if you get in front of them. How could you be so stupid as to get in their line. :
post #5 of 38
Because there are other ways to make smooth dynamic rebounding turns without full edge to edge carving or set your edge release your edge skidding. Especially in softer western snow where ones ski has another depth dimension in each turn. I mainly care about turns being smoothly efficient and rhythmic. -dave
post #6 of 38
Speaking of western carvers. It seemed to me that there are a lot of western carvers who heavily bank their carved turns. I guess they are use to soft snow.
post #7 of 38
I think avaerage skiers lack basic fundamentals. They are able to balance. They're not falling down a lot. The average skier's stance is not a very functional one, though. He/she is in the backseat, preventing effective use of carving skis even if they did have the moves. The backseat stance is connected to a host of faults from leaning to full body rotation. The teaching system is supposed to teach the development of lateral movement, if ever so slight, from the very beginning lessons. The lateral component is supposed to increase with the development of the skier. This is what would enable the skier to achieve significant edge angles from an effective stance and unlock the carving potential of the new equipment. Instead the average skier, if he is not a leaner, edges by moving the knees inward. Typically the the upper body moves very little to the inside. Understandable, really, Its instinctive to want to remain in balance. In most of our endeavors this is maintained by keeping the feet beneath us. Advanced skiing requires us to balance dynamically against forces we create. For some reason, few skiers seem to develop this ability very far. Its odd, the average beginner gets further to the inside of the outside ski in a wedge turn than the majority of skiers.

[ March 08, 2003, 10:29 PM: Message edited by: arcadie ]
post #8 of 38
Thread Starter 
In response to Arc and Pierre's observations that there are more carvers around, I guess I can't deny that when I look at the tracks in the snow, especially on greens and easy blue's, there certainly are many more carved arcs than in years gone by, but:

a) The increase in absolute numbers (or fraction) of carvers is not what I was really thinking about in my earlier post. Rather, I think what I & FastMan were puzzled about is that the fraction of skiers leaving these tracks is still surprisingly small compared to the number on modern equipment that *should* be able to do leave these tracks;

b) I was also focusing on the word, "quality" in FastMan's original phrase, "carved quality turns". For example, I see a lot of arcs on low angle slopes, but on steeper terrain, I see many fewer. I guess this is to be expected, but its not all that hard to carve on a groomed black with modern skis, and once again, I'm surprised that I don't see more people doing it. In addition, the people I do see laying these arcs on the greens and low blues seem to be more upper intermediates than really in the top echelon of recreational skiers. These better skiers that frequent the greens and blues for their carving fix seem to be less energetic, make less frequent turns, make larger radii turns, hold more static positions, etc.. Among this group, I see a surprising number of people who appear to be older & maybe somewhat out of shape, competent, experienced, but certainly not expert skiers (by whatever definition you use - grin).

Just my $0.02,

Tom / PM

PS (in edit) - I just re-read my post, and that last group sounds a lot like me. Maybe I better shuddup before I really get my foot in my mouth. Anyway, I'm going skiing tmmrw, so I'll pick up on this tmmrw night.

PS#2 - After one more re-read, I think I just managed to give the most long winded definition / description of the "cruiser" ski persona ever before given. Now I really better get out of here and get to sleep.

[ March 08, 2003, 11:48 PM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #9 of 38
Well, I guess I'd better get in here.

My comment was based on observations I made during a recent trip to Europe in which I skied at numerous resorts in Austria and Bavaria. During my lift rides at these resorts I made a point to observe the skiers on the slope and the techniques they were employing. I was struck by the limited number of skiers executing actual carved turns, and almost everyone had the short carvers on their feet. On a continent where skiing is a virtual religion, and world cup stars are the peoples biggest heros, I would have expected to see more attempted emulation taking place. I did see some quality carvers, but it was mostly racers and instructors. Very few of the intermediate tip and riders.

I of course take Arc and Pierre at their word, that they see many people attempting to carve now in their spot in the world. It makes me question the discrepancy though. Why are we more in a rush to carve than the Euros? Do they know something that is escaping us here in the states? I also focused on some of the ski school classes. I saw mostly a focus on the fundimental skills of balance, body positions, and basic edging skills. There was very little empasis on carving.

What are they thinking over there? I have a pretty good idea. I think they understand the importance of developing a solid skill foundation in their skiers before attempting to introduce carving. With that foundation in place introducing and refining carving skills is a very small hurdle that can be accomplished rapidly.

Sure, we can introduce it much sooner in the learning progression, as it sounds as though may be happening from some of the observations in this post, but in doing so we are simply creating run away trains, unguided missiles, flying down the hill with a lack of control and little ability to adjust turn shape as Pierre suggested. I don't think this is doing the intermediate skier any favors. It provides to him the elusion that he has arrived at an advanced level of skiing while at the same time limits his ultimate ability to in reality attain an that skill level.

Finally, if there is support of my position, I have another question that may make a good thread: If focusing on carving skills should be delayed untill a better skill foundation is developed, is there a need for the developing skier to be on shape skis? Shape skis were designed for one main purpose, to carve short radius turns. How does that design effect our ability to practice and refine more basic skills? :
post #10 of 38

In general Austria skiers just seem to be more recreational. Many accept they are not racers, they are skiing just to enjoy it. Not counting vertical feet or powder days just a bit of skiing, sit in the sun by the mountain hut and chill (then PARTY later). It's a different culture, they don't need to buy the latest ski's (some of them have real collectors items) or keep up with the Jones's in terms a technique - it's a skiing Holiday after all.

Many of the scrapers learn at such a low age that it's too difficult for them to break the habits of a life time. They are masters of the controlled skid and are happy with what they got, "afterall where is the happiness in more is better?"

On the other hand skiing is the sport here and young lads are always competitive (some of the girls too). Being the best in the racing team does make you far more attractive to the other sex (especially in those all important teenage years). Herman, Eberharter etc are the Michael Jordons and David Beckhams here. Most children get a chance to ski, more get exposed to the bug/drug of skiing. This is what keeps the Austrian Ski team so strong.

It's a different culture and I like it, either way it's still skiing it's still fun.


PS Carving when everyone else is skidding can damage your health
post #11 of 38
Today, the percentage of relatively good carvers to the rest of the skier population where I ski was higher than normal, and, no, there was not a race going on to attract the more active carvers.

The difference was that it was 10 degrees below zero (F) in the parking lot a half hour before the lifts opened and it was a wonderfully sunny blue-sky day.

The skiers who braved the cold were the more dedicated, so the skier skills level was greater, I believe.

[ March 09, 2003, 11:11 AM: Message edited by: Kneale Brownson ]
post #12 of 38
Skidding on hard frozen corduroy feels horrid and is not fun. With a pair of skis that can do it, CARVING on the same frozen corduroy feels smooth and IS fun.

Depends on terrain and conditions. There are steep, very narrow, bumpy trails strewn with rocks and roots, where any real carving can be only momentary, if at all . . . but some skiers better than I can probably do it successfully.
post #13 of 38
I was riding on the lift the other day with a ski instructor and his student, and I overheard him say to his student that "most skiers just make it down the mountain, instead of ski the mountain." Could it be that most skiers make it to the intermediate level, become happy with where they are, and never take a lesson again? Thus, they never take the time or effort to learn how to truly carve?
post #14 of 38
What in the heck do you want to turn for? Turning makes you slow down, doesn't it?
post #15 of 38
Arcadie - Interesting observation about the "average beginner" getting "further to the inside of the outside ski" in a wedge turn. In the past two seasons, since we've upgraded most of our rental fleet to shaped skis, our beginner students are REALLY carving with the turning ski in a wedge turn, assuming the instructor has them using their ankles and knees properly and the wedge is small. And the "matching" of the inside ski is no longer the skidding and brushing that it used to be. In answer to Fastman's question, short radius carved turns can be done in a wedge - they're not only an advanced skill.

I had a woman in a private lesson this afternoon. This was her second lesson with me, only her third lesson in all. She has rented the same pair of Dynastar Agyls all three times. Her first instructor showed her how to tip the turning ski on an edge and bend her knee and just let the ski engage the snow and turn. Today she was skiing down the fall line linking some very nice speed-controlling turns. When I showed her the tracks she had made and I used the term "carve", it was the first time she had heard it. Maybe we make too big a deal out of "carving". Instead of talking about it like it's something mysterious, just let the student experience it.

One point that I think begs to be made - with the intermediate and advanced level skiers on the newer skis who are still not carving, that's simply proof that no matter how advanced the equipment, you still need skills. The skis don't ski by themselves, regardless of the advertising to the contrary.
post #16 of 38
Originally posted by David7:

I had a woman in a private lesson this afternoon. This was her second lesson with me, only her third lesson in all. She has rented the same pair of Dynastar Agyls all three times. Her first instructor showed her how to tip the turning ski on an edge and bend her knee and just let the ski engage the snow and turn.
Which ski is the turning ski?
post #17 of 38
It is interesting, the number of skiers who seem perfectly at ease sliding a bit sideways with their turns. These people would be in some form of panic if the same sensations were felt while driving their automobile.

To simplify my observations, Most skidding skiers are apprehensive, in the back seat, with relatively stiff or erect body actions.

I contend that one of the best sensations that can be learned by any skier that would like to carve more, is of getting forward on the ski. If the tip of the ski is loaded and carving, a lot of things become obvious. Continued experience with a front loaded ski will allow the practitioner to refine the weight distribution toward the center much more effectively than if the habit is to sit back in a brace position.

If skier development encouraged the refinement of these skills on suitable terrain, I would expect the enjoyment of carving would be more universal.


post #18 of 38
Is it ok if I ask a really dumb question? Is it possible that people who used to ski straight skis don't reealize that they are supposed to carve. Was at the LOaf this weekend, in the blue/black group. Some guys told me that they had been skiing since 1982. I almost left the group. The instructor said no, because he had seen these guys ski, and they don't carve, and he had seen me with another instructor, and at least I sort of carve.

Another group of girls were in the black diamond group. They were commenting that they did not know that they were "Supposed to edge the downhill ski". Their words, not mine.

Wouldn't someone know this by the time they gott to that level?
post #19 of 38
What I've seen with most of the adults I know is that they learned to ski as kids (straight skis), now have shaped skis, boots that are bought for comfort only and don't see any point in taking lessons, because they can make it from the top to the bottom alive.

If you don't take lessons, only ski with people just like you, don't see the point in increasing your skills, you're not going to get above an intermediate level and you're not going to learn to effectively use new technology. It's pretty much a surprise to people that I take lessons at my advanced age.

But then again, I have a very casual approach to other sports where I'm sure those who take it much more seriously are horrified of my equipment and skill level. I don't see the use in more kayaking lessons for me because I can get across the flat lake (bunny slope for kayakers). And lets not talk about how old my cross country skis & boots are.
post #20 of 38
Originally posted by Lisamarie:
Is it ok if I ask a really dumb question? Is it possible that people who used to ski straight skis don't reealize that they are supposed to carve. Was at the LOaf this weekend, in the blue/black group. Some guys told me that they had been skiing since 1982. I almost left the group. The instructor said no, because he had seen these guys ski, and they don't carve, and he had seen me with another instructor, and at least I sort of carve.

Another group of girls were in the black diamond group. They were commenting that they did not know that they were "Supposed to edge the downhill ski". Their words, not mine.

Wouldn't someone know this by the time they gott to that level?
I was waiting for someone to bring this point up! Well said LM!

I suspect most skidders don't know any other way. They are content with the control they already have. and you can carve a straight ski! It's more work but it can be done!

My feeling on this is that most people have not felt a pure carve and don't know that they are missing one of the best sensations felt on skis.

Once most skiers feel a clean carve, they will continue to strive to feel that energy in their skiing. The the fun begins.

As Pierre has noted however is they often get to the park and ride stage and stop there. Same size turns, great feeling and lots of fun but....

There's so much more! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #21 of 38
Most skiers understand how to make turns from their initial attempts whether it is through instruction, friends’ advice, or self-discovery. They learn to push their skis’ tails out by sliding them and they improve upon this technique until they are eventually skidding parallel turns.

I think there has never been a true understanding of what makes a ski carve by 90 percent of the ski population. This started with straight skis. Carving 200-cm pencil skis took some advanced skills and technical knowledge, which usually took a lot of time on the slopes and/or plenty of lessons. The trend continues with today’s shape skis that are so much easier to put on edge, take less weighting and unweighting to carve, and are more forgiving. People are happy with what they know and many of them have no desire to lay railroad tracks down a piece of blue corduroy. Those who do take lessons or spend lots of time getting there.

I took an upper level group lesson a couple of seasons ago at Heavenly. It was my first time out West in a couple of years and fourth time ever on the new shape skis so I wanted to take a refresher on the new skis and their carving technique. I signed up for a level 7 carving clinic but ended up being placed with a group of seven Level 5’s and 6’s. I stuck with it, had fun, and got the refresher I was looking for. The thing that struck me was that most in this group were solid to upper intermediates that had no idea on how to put their skis on edge or that they were even supposed to. One student actually said to me as we watched the instructor carve a perfect downhill ski arc, “is that really how you’re supposed to ski?” This person had no clue to what the edges of skis can do. I assume Ninety percent of the ski population feels the same way.

I don’t know if it is the way you’re “supposed” to ski but it certainly is the most efficient if one expects to ski at a higher level. I would think that anyone who is at an advanced level or taking “black diamond” lessons would have some working knowledge of edging the downhill ski, or uphill ski for that matter. That is not to say that one must carve all black diamond terrain. There are many conditions where carving on steep slopes is not the best method but I would think that to be considered an upper level skier, you must know how to carve both skis simultaneously.
post #22 of 38
Lisamarie - I'm guessing what your fellow students didn't realize was just how high an edge angle shaped skis can hold -- if their skis weren't edged at all, they'd be sideslipping.

As was already mentioned, straight skis could most certainly carve, but it was difficult, and for the most part required speeds that attracted the attention of the ski patrol.

The sensation of a purely carved turn is a bit scary at first, especially if you aren't used to staying centered over the skis' sweet spot (you'll find yourself in the back seat really fast if you just "stand there"). I imagine your fellow students have probably felt what high edge angles do at some point (i.e., instant carve) and decided that was "wrong", so they returned to their tried-and-true skid-based technique.
post #23 of 38
Could be. But could it also be that some people eitheer don't have the ankles for a pure carve, or are in the wrong boot to support the carve.

Kevin, if I had your ankles I would be railroad tracking all over the mountain.
post #24 of 38
This person had no clue to what the edges of skis can do. I assume Ninety percent of the ski population feels the same way. -RustyEdge
I don't know if it's 90 percent, but the percentage of people who have never felt their edges is quite high. I'm always amazed by the numbers of people who are so surprised at doing one footed railroad turns- just tipping one foot on edge while the other keeps you from falling over. Many people have difficulty even doing this or understanding what is being asked. Many will say that "they've never felt their edges before" - people who have been skiing for years!

On the other hand I agree with the observations that there are many more carvers these days. I think the general skiing level has really gone up a lot in the last few years. It really used to be just some of the higher level racers ripping arcs and now it seems like everyone is doing it.

A lot of it does have to do with what Bob Barnes talks about- people making defensive turns to slow down. Others just like to sort of drift down the hill and kind of turn them sideways occasionally. These people often like to go down quite fast but have never felt a carve.

Maybe it's not so bad if there's a whole bunch just skidding...When you get a lot of rapid arcers the slopes often get dangerous with people coming at you from the side very rapidly.
post #25 of 38
Lisamarie -- I'm still amazed at that "ankles" comment, and I'm referring to from Saturday. My bootfitter guy has commented that I have some of the stiffest ankles he's ever worked with -- I'm guessing he did a better job then I thought. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #26 of 38
In regards to lessons, I have been skiing since 1986, spent 6 years on the winter Park Disabled Ski Team, and qualified for nationals three times. Still, after getting on shaped skis, I took four lessons this season, and my skiing (especially in ungroomed)has improved by leaps and bounds. Carving has become so much more smooth and efficient for me--just by taking a few lessons.
post #27 of 38
Re: the comments from FastMan and Dangerous Brian re: the Austrians/Europeans carving (or not)despite having the shaped skis:

I've been living and skiing here in Bavaria/Austria for the past four years. I think what FastMan noticed was a result of a few factors:
1) ski equipment is generally much less expensive here; e.g. Atomic 9.18 carvers for around $300; you see them everywhere
2) since skiing is so popular, with races on TV every weekend, the average skier is aware of ski equipment and the recent 'revolution' in shape. Just try going into a big shop in Munich/Innsbruck/St. Anton without seeing row upon row of shaped skis. No self-respecting German (well, at least only a few) is going to let a device/equipment revolution pass him by without getting in on the action.
3) The vast majority of adult skiers here have been taught the 'St. Anton' method and head down the mountain with their skis glued together. A good friend of mine is a solid skier; he bought some Volkl P50 SC (170cm) last year. He still only really carves 25% of his turns (his estimate and mine). He took a private lesson last week that focused on carving. The instructor told him the long history of instruction in Austria is making hard for adults to learn more of the cross-under technique. This friend has a great 'style', but he is really just swishing his kness/hips down the mountain; he rarely really finishes a carving turn. My friend's nine year-old son tagged along at that lesson, skking on 140cm Atomic 9.16. The instructor said there was little he could teach the boy; he already had the carving nuances well under control. This boy has been taught recently (of course) and only then have the instructors been showing people the better, more athletic stance and the techniques for true carving.

So, my $.02 worth (maybe more like a dime).

Have fun!
post #28 of 38
Is true arc to arc carving, too dynamic for the average skier's desires? Is "to ski the slow line fast" (epicski mantra)using pure carves just too athletic? ? A similar question: "Why don't more people run their cars in the 'hi-torque' range? Come on people! Rev it up!
post #29 of 38
Thread Starter 
They do - its just that most of them think the high torque range is around 500 rpm [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img] .
post #30 of 38
I think skidding is defensive lifestyle.

Many people take skiing as a workout: if they are not sore on Monday, that means for them the ski weekend was a waste. So high-torque for them is associated with high fatigue, and the best way to get really tired and sore is 2 full days of hard-core skidding.

Then they don't care for ski(dd)ing until the next ski weekend.

By contrast, when they carve, they don't get that tired; they spend the week looking wistfully at the calendars and counting the days left to the next weekend they can go skiing; they feel sorry when the snow is gone, and fall into mild depression that lasts until the first snowstorm - anywhere within their budget.

So, carving reflects negatively on the psyche; therefore, people tend to protect themselves by skidding. [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › Why don't more people carve? (started in "Ski Softly" thread)