The three important components of an effortless carve.
By Trent Finlayson
How would you describe your turns? Are they fast-flowing carves back toward the wakes or are they more of a sliding pivot, similar to a stop on hockey skates? If your turns end up more like the latter, your chance of carrying good direction into the next turn is not very promising. A fast-paced, sweeping carve, however, will allow you to carry more speed and, subsequently, have less load on the rope as you approach the wakes, making it far easier to maintain your direction to the opposite side of the course. There are three general components to a carving turn: your ski’s attitude, its roll angle and the speed required to support both. It’s time to say goodbye to that wheelied, sliding turn and allow your ski to carve the way it was designed.
Your ski’s attitude can be described as its orientation relative to its direction of travel. In other words, how level it rides in the water, tip to tail. Your ski was designed to carve a turn when it is riding level through the water. As you approach your path’s widest point, your ski’s attitude levels as you stand tall into the turn. Your job now is to simply keep it level through the finish of the turn. Rotating in the direction of your turn or rocking back will cause the tip to rise, making it essentially impossible to carve a turn. By keeping your weight moving forward you will keep your tip engaged, allowing it to pull through the turn, and build angle back toward the wake.
Roll angle describes how far your ski is rolled onto its edge. The greater your roll angle, or the more your ski is on edge through the turn, the sharper your turn will be. Regardless of your style, the only way to establish and maintain roll angle is by moving your body weight over your ski’s edge. For example, on a turn to the right, your body weight would move over your ski’s right edge. The more efficient you are at moving your weight, the greater your roll angle. This means moving your head and shoulders, which carry very little weight, will result in a slight increase in roll angle. Moving your center of mass, or hips, which carry the majority of your body weight, will result in a dramatic increase in roll angle.
In order to support the first two components, you will need adequate water speed. In order to keep your ski’s attitude level throughout the turn, you will need to keep your weight (again, think center of mass or hips) moving forward over your feet. The more speed you have, the easier this will be. As your ski slows, its tail will begin to ride deeper in the water, making it harder to keep your ski’s tip engaged. The extent to which you can keep you ski rolled on its edge through the turn is directly dependant on your speed. Your ski, as the platform on which you stand, needs forward speed to support your weight as you shift it to the inside. Think of it in terms of riding a bicycle. The more speed you have the more you can bank your turns or lean into them. What would happen, however, if you squeezed the brakes midturn? Your speed would decrease and you would simply fall to the inside. Back to the water, when you run out of speed you are forced to fall back and wait for the rope to get tight to keep from falling over. Now your ski tip is in the air and you have come off edge, killing all three components of a carving turn.