How To Carve on Skis Like a Pro: 3 Essential Turns for Every Skier

Master the art of carving on skis for better control and speed on slopes. Learn the three types of turns: parallel, short-radius, and long-radius.

How To Carve on Skis Like a Pro: 3 Essential Turns for Every Skier
Photo by Maarten Duineveld / Unsplash

Skiing is a wonderful sport that offers many benefits, such as fresh air, exercise, and beautiful scenery. However, skiing can be challenging for beginners, especially when it comes to turning on steep slopes. In this post, we will discuss how to carve on skis and the three types of turns you need to ski any slope.

Carving on skis is the technique of creating a clean, carved turn by tipping your skis on their edges and riding them through the turn. It is an essential skill for any intermediate or advanced skier who wants to improve their control and speed on the slopes. The three types of turns we will cover are the basic parallel turn, the short-radius turn, and the long-radius turn.

The Basic Parallel Turn

The basic parallel turn is the foundation of all skiing techniques. It involves turning both skis at the same time while maintaining the same distance between them throughout the turn. Here's how to do it:

  1. Start by pointing your skis straight down the slope, with your weight centred over the middle of your skis.
  2. As you begin to turn, shift your weight to the outside ski and roll it onto its edge.
  3. Gradually increase the pressure on the outside ski as you continue to turn. This will cause your skis to carve into the snow and turn smoothly.
  4. As you complete the turn, transfer your weight to the other ski and repeat the process in the other direction.

The key to a good parallel turn is to maintain a balanced and fluid motion throughout the turn. Don't rush the turn or try to force your skis to turn too quickly.

The Short-Radius Turn

The short-radius turn is a quick and sharp turn that is useful for skiing in tight spaces or avoiding obstacles on the slope. Here's how to do it:

  1. Start by skiing straight down the slope and pick a spot where you want to turn.
  2. As you approach the turning spot, shift your weight to the outside ski and roll it onto its edge.
  3. Use a quick and sharp movement to turn your skis, keeping them close together and maintaining your balance over the outside ski.
  4. As you complete the turn, transfer your weight to the other ski and repeat the process in the other direction.

The key to a good short-radius turn is to be quick and decisive in your movements. Don't hesitate or try to turn too slowly, or you may lose your balance.

The Long-Radius Turn

The long-radius turn is a slower and more controlled turn that is useful for skiing on wide-open slopes or carving down a hill. Here's how to do it:

  1. Start by skiing straight down the slope and pick a spot where you want to turn.
  2. As you approach the turning spot, shift your weight to the outside ski and roll it onto its edge.
  3. Gradually increase the pressure on the outside ski as you continue to turn. This will cause your skis to carve into the snow and turn smoothly.
  4. As you complete the turn, transfer your weight to the other ski and repeat the process in the other direction.

The key to a good long-radius turn is to maintain a steady and controlled motion throughout the turn. Don't rush or try to turn too quickly, as this will cause you to lose your balance and control.

Tips for Carving on Skis

  1. Use your edges: One of the most important things to remember when carving on skis is to use your edges. To do this, you need to tilt your skis onto their edges and apply pressure. This will allow you to dig into the snow and maintain control as you turn.
  2. Keep your upper body stable: Another key aspect of carving on skis is to keep your upper body stable. This means keeping your shoulders and hips facing downhill and avoiding excessive upper-body rotation. By doing this, you'll be able to maintain your balance and control throughout the turn.
  3. Look ahead: As you carve on skis, it's important to keep your eyes looking ahead to where you want to go. This will help you anticipate changes in the terrain and adjust your turns accordingly.
  4. Start with short turns: If you're new to carving on skis, it's a good idea to start with short turns. This will help you get a feel for the technique and build your confidence before attempting longer turns.
  5. Practice on different terrain: To improve your carving technique, it's important to practice on a variety of terrain. This will help you develop your skills and adapt to different conditions, such as steep slopes or icy patches.

By following these additional tips, readers should be able to further improve their carving technique and take their skiing to the next level.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

As with any new skill, there are some common mistakes that beginners tend to make when learning how to carve on skis. Here are some of the most common mistakes, and how to avoid them:

  • Not using enough edge angle: To carve effectively, you need to be using enough edge angle. Beginners often make the mistake of not using enough, which can cause their skis to skid instead of carving. To avoid this, focus on getting your skis up on edge and maintaining that edge angle throughout the turn.
  • Leaning into the turn: Another common mistake is leaning into the turn. While it may feel natural to do so, it makes it more difficult to initiate the turn and control your speed. Instead, focus on keeping your upper body upright and facing downhill.
  • Twisting your skis: When carving, it's important to keep both skis aligned and parallel to each other. Beginners often make the mistake of twisting their skis, which can cause them to lose control and skid out. To avoid this, focus on keeping your skis parallel and pointing in the same direction.
  • Not finishing the turn: Finally, many beginners don't finish their turns properly. They may turn too early, or not complete the turn to the fall line. To avoid this, focus on completing each turn to the end, and then transitioning smoothly into the next turn.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you'll be well on your way to mastering the art of carving on skis.


Turn Type Purpose Body Position Ski Shape Terrain
Carved Speed Forward Narrow Groomed
Skidded Control Balanced Wide Any
Carved/Skidded Versatility Balanced All-round Any

Learning how to carve on skis can be a daunting task, but with practice and patience, it's a skill that anyone can master. By understanding the basics of edge control, turn shape, and pressure control, you can begin to carve your way down any slope with ease.

Remember to start with the basics and gradually work your way up to more advanced turns. Don't be afraid to seek out professional instruction if you need help along the way. And most importantly, have fun! Skiing is a wonderful sport that can provide a lifetime of enjoyment, and carving is one of its most rewarding skills.

We hope that this guide has helped teach you how to carve on skis. Now get out there and hit the slopes