Ultimate Carving

Doug Dryer models Kahala Hawaiian Sportwear. Photo: Jeff Lamppert


Doug calls his style "ultimate carving," which may be different from what other people are used to. What he teaches does not specifically cater to any kind of racing skills.

Doug emphasizes starting a carving turn with about 75% of your weight on your back foot. When turning on both heel and toe edge, Your upper body should twist into the slope, and this corkscrew motion must lead the board by about 30º at all times: not just at the beginning of the turn, but all the way through the entire turn: This twisting motion drives the board into the slope, and gets the board to turn a carve that is tighter than what its sidecut dictates. Your entire upper body must twist: Your arms, shoulders, hips, and line of sight. Try to drive the board into the slope even more than you think is possible. The twisting action is essential to get a good heel-side carve. While twisting, do not let the board get ahead of you. A common mistake is to start off 30º ahead of the board at the beginning of the turn, and then stop twisting: In this case, the board will come around and catch up to you near the end of the turn.

At the same time, try to stay in the "back seat" as much as possible, by bending your knees and keeping your upper body upright. Get your butt as low as possible, by bending your knees as much as possible. You should almost be sitting on your back boot: you should have about a 90º bend between your upper and lower legs. Your position should be like sitting back in a chair. By turning your upper body into the slope and bending your knees, your butt will naturally shift away from the slope, in line with a normal to your board. If you do it right your quads will burn. Most people think they are bending their knees more than they really are. One test is to place your hands on your upper leg while you are bending your knees: your hands should feel horizontal. If not, bend your knees more.

to help you get used to bending your knees sufficiently during a carve, a drill to try at home is to put your board on the living room floor, and get into your boots and click in to your bindings. Then practice getting into position for a carve by bending your knees so that you are almost sitting on your back foot.

During a carve, while your quads are burning, don't bend at the waist: keep your upper body perpendicular to the board. If you imagine a plane perpendicular to the length of your board which passes through your front toe, your hands should always be behind that plane. If you bend over at the waist, you will tend to wash out the tail of the board, especially when entering a heel-side turn. Bending at the waist also causes you to get pitched over the handlebars. Ways to avoid bending at the waist include:

By bending your knees and staying in the back seat, your bent legs act as shock absorbers to absorb the force of chopped up terrain, allowing you to carve after the groomers are gone and the moguls start to form.

You can prevent chattering on your heel edge by keeping your upper body turned and driving into the slope throughout the entire turn, and keeping your butt as low as possible.

Release the turn and change to the next edge just a hair before the board is perpendicular to the fall line.

By bending your knees and twisting aggressively, you should be able to get the board sufficiently on edge to allow your body to get very close to the slope. You should be able to skim your inside elbow and back knee on toe edge. You can then raise your inside elbow up even more and get your body closer to the snow. The idea is to contour your body to the slope. You should also be able to skim your inside butt cheek on heel edge, even on almost flat terrain. However, don't put any weight on any of these appendages: keep all the weight on the edge of the board. Don't touch the slope with your hands: you will tend to break at the waist, and your fingers can catch and get jammed. The way Doug rides, both his hands hover about an inch above the slope on toe edge.

When linking turns, your body acts like a piston, rising and dropping on the edge changes. You do not need to flick your legs out to get the board on edge. When changing an edge and dropping into the next turn, it is important to drop quickly and abruptly: the downweight should be drastic. If you drop slowly or gradually, you will not be able to get the board high on edge during the turn. The piston motion when dropping into a turn should be faster than gravity.

It is important to drop and lean all at once: you must commit to the turn all at once: dive into the turn sooner than later. You must have faith that your board will catch you right before you hit the slope as you carve the turn: You must trust your gear to do its job.

After you drop into position at the beginning of a turn, don't let up: A common mistake is to rise up as the turn progresses, or even to bounce back up. After you set the edge at the beginning, stay locked and rigid, with constant pressure for the rest of the turn.

For steeper terrain, use the same basic technique, just accentuate everything. You also need to make the edge changes quicker.

Doug also claims his style works great on ice, by balancing out the forces that tend to make you slide out.

Doug also says that you don't have to consciously load the tail to help with the edge changes: The board will naturally get loaded as you carve the turn. Doug does not shift his weight from forward to back on the board during the turn: He keeps his weight mostly on the back foot all the time. Doug naturally gets air at edge changes.

When learning, a useful drill is to practice one turn at a time, without trying to link turns: that way you can concentrate more on the technique during the turn.

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