Originally Posted by dustyfog
Interesting thread to observe for a beginner/intermediate. Prefacing my remarks with duly acknowledged lack of experience, I have to agree with Bode Klammer, BPA, Bob Peters, Rick S(he had a whole thread on steering turns) and an individual called Jer I think who started a thread with the amusing header "carving=lame". Here is a neophyte's take after watching and learning from others:
1. Carving feels great when executed on a relatively smooth, reasonably predictable, and not excessively steep(which is subjective by definition) surface.
Carving is the best feeling on skis!
2. Carving is one form of skiing which is very useful for racing and feeling good for a little while.Carving is one form of skiing that works great on any trial I can find on a trial map, unless the moguls are big, in which case the speed it entails makes for a very rough ride indeed. A form of carving where the same principle is applied except using the entire base of both skis as edges feels great in many places off the maps.
3. Carving is not effortless, serious big arc carving requires strong leg muscles to hold the edge locked as the forces build. Serious fitness necessary. Which is why you will almost never see the senior citizen's who are great skiers carving hard, the body simply cannot handle the forces at play, hence, carving in general (sure, on relatively gentle slopes, simply tipping on edge and carving rails feels good for not too large radius turns and feels effortless as long as turn radii are not increasing) requires serious athleticism. Heartily agree; it takes a lot of effort, unless you are just skiing almost straight down with no sudden changes in pitch.
4. carving in heavy snow, powder, spring cut up late day crud, a cut-up slope, wind-swept snow pack with depths greater than 6 inches or more: is actually useless, in fact probably demonstrates lack of skiing versatility.Carving is the best way to ski these conditions, especially with something like my Machete Gs.
5. steering is the key skill, maintaining constant speed throughout the turn is the key to controlled skiing and a carve absolutely cannot deliver that, one needs to smear and steer to adjust the edge angle for speed control as gravitational forces increase and decrease through the course of a turn. Constant speed is a goal which is hard (or impossible??) to achieve but that remains the goal. Rick S in his piece on the steered turn delves into the limits of speed command and control via carving in depth with an expert eye.Steering is a very important skill. If you want to control your speed, as in decrease it, you need to steer a non-edge-locked ski. Constant speed is easily attained with carving; it's just that that constant speed is your terminal velocity for the given slope, and can be adjusted somewhat by stance.
6. instructors in powder country do not focus on carving, instructors on eastern seaboard hardpack tend to focus on it a bit too much.haven't taken enough lessons to tell. It would seem that way judging by epicski. I have noticed a distinct bias based on peoples history of skiing mostly certain types of snow though. It's very interesting to someone who has skied both deep and hard snow.
7. as the terrain steepens, the odds of carving arc to arc diminish if one values safety and control. i have read folks here talk about carving 50 degree slopes. Sure, in the full video of Bode Miller's instruction tapes, you will see how he smears and edge sets when teaching how to ski the steeps and then there are clips of him skiing hard and fast on seriously steep terrain, hard-core carving arc to arc, but those velocities he is moving at - well, he is Bode Miller after all, not meant for ordinary mortals. Watch Klaus Mair's video on skiing, he has a short section on skiing the steeps, there is not much carving going on, lots of speed control though, carve, scarve, skids and Klaus like his Austrian brethren is a carve-meister.There are many places where you can't ski fast, such as beginner runs and blind drops. On the other hand, there are plenty of places where you can ski fast. If the runout is good why not ski fast? Skiing fast is fun. It's a lot safer than riding a motorcycle at a buck fifty on the back concession. If you can't ski fast, because of people in the way, bumps too big, 90 degree turn at the bottom of the chute, etc, then you will have to do something other than arc edge-locked turns. And it IS more stylish and safer to make uniform speed turns down the run than to get up to 60 and slam on the binders in a bump field. Some people will still call it carving though.
8. Rick S - on this forum has pointed out and someone above highlighted the link to his well-explained article, that steering is the key to control, carving is a skill to be acquired for certain types of terrain, focusing on it limits one's skiing spectra.You need to understand how a ski works and everything you can do with it.
9. On steeps, sure I can see how turn shape, i.e. arc radii variations can help kill, modulate speed when up on one's edges but there is no denying the fact that the best of them run into the usual edge-slip, skid, some chatter, when they try to control speed by radii adjustment of the carved arc, simple collision between what the ski is designed for given its camber, and what the body is trying to get it to do, and gravity kind of ruins the party. Someone said that "if skis chatter, that means one's weight is not forward over one's skis period", I beg to differ, skis can also chatter when the edge angle and desired arc exceed or tighten beyond that which can be delivered by the blades.There really is very little speed control through radius adjustment without adding in skidding.
10. Carving on steeps where one can still do turns maintaining pretty much full contact with the snow, requires some serious leg flexing of the downhill ski to get the leg to hold the turn against the g's being generated, again - hard work and needs serious leg power.It's fun to get airborne too, but regardless of transition type, and as said earlier, making high g turns takes leg strength.
11. On serious steeps where all those hop turns and things where some elevation off the snow is necessary, no one is carving when they land, sure they attempt to lock the edge-set and do they do it, oh, so effortlessly, but there is slippage, simple matter of angle of attack of the edge entering the snow, it cannot immediately fight the downward force of gravity and simply glide across the hill, they slip. Even the DesLaurier brothers who are uber-experts, I have seen some of their footage, they slide...no question about it to my eyes anyway. Therein lies the rub, knowing how to side-slip down, controlled skidding, and adjusting edge angles dynamically to the snow underfoot and approaching terrain, anticipating and adapting the edge (since in the real world, for instance in serious flat light, even the best know they had better be careful) to "take outspeed" is the key that unlocks the door to great skiing. Of course, I do not expect to find that key anytime soon but the quest continues.Ignore flat light at your peril! Ditto fogged-up goggles!
12. I have seen many a video on uber-experts executing extremely short radius turns, there is some skidding/sliding, its not edge-glide to edge-glide, just a matter of momentum as the body is driving forward downhill, even Harb's videos on this show he is not carving the entire turn, just part of the super-short turn, simply a matter of forward velocity crashing against the angular velocity imparted by the turning ski.
There is a limit on how small a turn you can carve with any ski. As speed increases that limit goes up (bigger turns). All other things being equal, the steeper the run the less sharp a turn you will be able to carve at any given speed.
I like carving and am learning to do it, so the disclaimer that am no expert; but as yet I have yet to meet an expert who says that carve everything,...then again I have a lot to learn so perhaps I am misinformed and simply need to get to that point.
Thought you pros might like the perspective of a humble beginner. I post with some wariness since there could be a violent reaction (just kidding) but this is the truth as I see it.