Race Carve: Bend to Balance

A carved turn is defined by a board’s interaction with the snow. This relationship can be achieved in a varietyof ways, but should be initially learned through what’s called angulating. Angulating can best be describedas bending, or creating angles in the body, in order to tip your board on edge.

The bending should occur in the ankles (if your boots aren’t too stiff), knees, and hips, while the torso remains more or less upright. Theadvantage of angulating is that it allows you to assume a more balanced and potentially dynamic position overyour board. For this reason, angulating is the technique that beginning carvers need to develop (balance is thecentral tenet of carved turns), and the one applied most by racers. The ability to angulate effectively willdevelop gradually as your body adapts to the new demands of riding in a flexed position. Proprioception(knowing where your body is in space) is key because many times riders think they’re bending a lot, when infact it’s only a lot relative to how little they flexed before.

To get an idea of how it should feel, try flexing down with one hand on each side of your board, and reach as low as you can while your back remainsstraight (think squats). Your limitations will probably be in the ankles-going beyond those limits will eithercause you to bend at the back or fall over off balance. If your hands touch the snow during a turn, youprobably have a tendency to lean over rather than flex down. Try taking off your gloves for a run-angulationand balance will rapidly become second nature.

Variables come into play (like centrifugal force) that allow riders to stray from the technical mold of the angulated turn, but the basics can’t be ignored. It’s angulation that enables racers to power their edges in the iciest conditions, and carving neophytes to attain balance andsound riding positions. -K.H.