Patrice and Jacques, the Swiss carving duo, have developed the ExtremeCarving technique, which allows Totally Laid, Linked Turns consisting of consecutive linked armpit-in-the-snow laid-over turns
with full body extension on both heel side and toe side. The Older Eurocarving
style (Vitelli turns) were generally limited to a single laid-over turn, usually
on toe side. Jean Nerva and Peter Bauer can be found carving laid-out Vitelli turns in older snowboard videos, but you never see them linking two laid-out turns in a row. In contrast, the ExtremeCarving technique can link continuous laid-over turns
on toe side and heel side. A good example of ExtremeCarving is demonstrated
in the Opus 4 video on the ExtremeCarving web site.
The ExtremeCarving folks have teamed up with Jonas Rejman to produce Carved, an HD-quality video. You can also download a trailer, or pay for the full download.
ExtremeCarving is actually one facet of a more general technique called push-pull.
The push-pull technique involves two dynamics:
- The sideways pressure of the board is minimized during the entire turn,
which is accomplished by pushing during the first half of the turn (extension)
and pulling during the second half (flexion). The pull phase counteracts the
pressure exerted by gravity during the second half of the turn. The push-pull technique is actually a "flexion/extension" technique.
- The style is highly rotated, and completely eliminates counter-rotation.
These two techniques are combined with the following goals in mind:
- To be smooth and fluid
- To control speed.
The Push-pull technique is versatile enough to be used anywhere on the mountain
- powder, moguls, crud, etc, and for any steepness - it is just a matter of
regulating the forces to control speed and stay fluid.
ExtremeCarving happens when the push-pull technique is pushed to the limit
on steeper, hard, groomed runs. In this case, the push-pull technique naturally
results in Totally Laid, Linked Turns, a style that consists of three stages:
- Entering the turn: To exit the previous turn, you perform
a cross-under movement by bending your legs to Pull the board up
to you. As you become more advanced, you will be able to get the board to
hop to the next edge with a bit of air. During the transition, it's important
to keep your body low to make it easy to lay down during the first part of
the turn - but don't break at the waist. With your knees still bent, set the
board onto its next edge, perpendicular to the fall line (or perhaps pointed
a little uphill), tilted almost vertically on edge. It's important to crank
the board to its maximum angle before the board turns downhill, and before
you start pushing.
- First half: Push the board away from you quickly
by straightening your knees to 90% of full extension - You still need some
flex in your knees to handle less than perfect snow. The push must begin when
the board is perpendicular to the fall line, and continue until the apex of
the turn, when the board is pointing straight down the fall line. You also
need to apply even pressure to each foot - if you find yourself putting more
pressure on your back foot during a carve, you need to shift your body weight
forward a little to compensate. During this push phase, you can fine-tune
the EC turn by varying how hard you push, since the decambered sidecut radius is dominated by the flex of the board, and the force you apply with your legs. While pushing, inclinate your body
to the inside of the turn to naturally control the speed of the board. This
movement is exactly like falling back onto a bed. Do not "sit down"
- instead, let yourself "fall down." This movement is a leap of faith, because you are pushing away from the board while it is perpendicular to the fall line and nearly vertical - you must trust your board to come around. Also, do not try to get close
to the snow by breaking at the waist - as long as you have sufficient speed
going into the turn, you will be able to get enough inclination to lay down
into the turn. As you push during this first half of the turn, you must also
rotate toward the inside of the turn using your hips - quite a bit on heel side
(until your torso faces the nose of the board) and a small amount on toe side.
This rotation does several things:
By using just the right combination of inclination, push extension, and rotation,
the apex of the turn is when your hands will naturally touch the snow, and
that is the instant that appears in the photos on the EC site.
- It causes the board to carve a tighter turn without exerting sideways
pressure on the board.
- It helps to bring the board around perpendicular to the fall line,
which is the orientation needed for the transition between carves.
- It provides additional downward edge pressure at the end of the
turn to help with edge grip.
- It provides a windup for the next turn. By unwinding the rotation
before entering the next turn, you can add momentum to make the
transition more dynamic and easier, especially from toe side to heel side.
- Rotation allows you to drive the board. Without rotation, the board's sidecut and flex will take over like a backseat driver.
- Second half: Just as the board points down the fall line,
Pull the board toward you by bending your knees to start the cross-under
transition. Pulling the board will exert an inward force that balances out
the force of gravity, resulting in edge pressure that maintains grip without
skidding. On ice, you need to pull harder to balance the forces and hold an
edge. But on hero snow, you can back off, allowing a bit of outward pressure,
and the edge will still hold - you can then extend the arc of the turn a little
more, and do most of the pulling at the last minute just before the transition.
To help with the heel side turn, it is beneficial to use a "wind up"
at the end of the toe side turn. The wind up is accomplished by rotating your
hips to the inside of the turn so that your torso faces the slope. When transitioning
into the heel side turn, you uncoil your hips and use the extra momentum to
enter the heel side turn. Just before you uncoil at the end of the toe side
turn, you will be in the "Egyptian position" - torso facing the slope,
inside arm raised up toward the center of the turn, outside arm pointing down
at your board, with your head looking downhill over your shoulder so that you
can see where you are going. This wind up gives the EC style a figure-8 motion,
with the uphill motion of the body forming the humps on the figure 8. The wind up must also be progressive: your body should rotate throughout the toe side turn, and reach the Egyptian pose just before the heel side turn. This technique
is clearly visible in the EC videos. This wind up can be further leveraged by
snapping the hips at the entry into the heel side turn. For the heel side to toe side transition, this sort of wind up is not necessary, since you will already be facing the bindings.
Mastering this extreme version of the push-pull technique to achieve Totally Laid, Linked Turns is difficult. The
rhythm and timing are essential, and laid-down turns must be done on steeper slopes, where you will be going fast. In addition, you must completely eliminate counter
rotation, otherwise you will end up ExtremeSkidding. A drill to eliminate counter
rotation is to keep your arms glued to the sides of your body, which reduces
the rotational momentum of your upper body and forces you to lead turns with
your hips. In addition, there are a few subtleties to their technique:
- The EC style attempts to minimize the sideways pressure on the board, and
simultaneously distribute it in time over the entire duration of the 180°
- For the first half of the turn during the push phase, you will feel
only a small amount of pressure on the board
- For the second half of the turn during the pull phase, you will feel
even less pressure, and you may feel weightlessness.
- This distribution of pressure is different from a typical carving style,
where the first half of the turn experiences very little pressure, with
all the pressure applied to the board during the second half of the turn,
a contributor to heel side chatter.
- When doing EC style, you will often get a huge rooster tail of snow, even
when there is no skidding. That is because the vertical position of the board
allows the snow to spray straight up, and you are pushing aggressively on the board at the same time.
- Because the EC technique maintains equal foot pressure, you generally don't
have to worry about the nose diving.
- In order to achieve equal pressure on both feet during a heel side, it's important to extend your legs to around 90%. If you don't extend enough, you will tend to lift your back foot as you rotate into the turn, taking pressure off of the tail of the board. However, it is not good to fully extend your legs at the apex, because you can get bounced around.
- To remain balanced on heelside, avoid shifting too much weight to the front of the board. One way to avoid this weight shift is to move your inside hip to the rear as you enter the backside turn.
- On steeper slopes:
- The rotation movement must be quicker.
- Pull harder to counteract gravity and get the board to cross under.
- When exiting a turn, you need start the pull sooner, just before the
board points down the fall line.
- Like regular carving, it's ideal to wait 2 groomings after fresh snow. But
for ice, their style also works well, by using the technique for steeper slopes, and with the following modifications:
- At the apex of the turn, you need to keep your knees a little more bent
than usual to act as shock absorbers.
- The timing of the pull must be more exact, to counteract gravity and ensure that lateral forces on the board are kept to an absolute minimum.
- The push phase must be very smooth, otherwise the edge of the board between the bindings can skid, resulting in loss of control. Avoid abrupt movements, and try to relax.
- More body rotation will further increase the downward forces, compared to the lateral forces that tend to cause skidding.
- The EC technique is able to handle bumps, because the board is vertical
and it has minimal sideways pressure. Extending your legs to 90% of full extension
provides shock absorption.
- EC works well on steeper slopes - the steeper the slope, the easier it is
to lay it over.
- Because of the low, extended style of EC, it's theoretically possible to
dislocate a shoulder. But in practice, it doesn't seem to happen any more
often than with other types of carving, because the push phase of EC is a
"highly controlled fall." The key is to simply avoid situations
of "uncontrolled fall."
- On toe side, you can skim the slope with both hands in front of you. However,
EC purists adopt a style that minimizes body movement and gestures. This philosophy
means keeping your outside arm against your body, and your inside arm fully
extended in line with your body.
EC technique is suitable for beginner riders who have never carved before.
The body rotation and push-pull technique is fundamental to basic carving,
and can be learned without laying it over. It is simply a matter of starting
with slopes that are less steep. The push-pull technique will naturally become
laid over if you move to steeper and steeper slopes while maintaining speed
control, allowing you to achieve Totally Laid, Linked Turns. The key is to maintain a smooth, fluid style as you progress. The
EC style looks and feels totally effortless, because it is so fluid
The downside involves falling down, and in particular, tipping over and doing a body slide. In the process of learning, it's typical to arrive at the lift at the bottom of the hill with your goggles and helmet stuffed with snow. C'est la vie.
- There is a drill that is useful to verify your body position: Pick up speed
and then do a single toe side turn, staying in the carve and turning uphill
until you slow down to a stop. Verify that you have the right body position:
- Slightly rotated to the inside of the turn, using your hips, not your
- Legs extended at 90%
- Not breaking at the waist
- Don't lay down into the turn too late - the EC technique requires you to
take the leap of faith and "fall down" into the turn starting when
the board is perpendicular to the fall line.
- It's important to get early edge at the transition
- At the beginning of the turn, you must start pushing the board away from
you while it is perpendicular to the fall line, before the board turns downhill.
- Make sure your legs are extended at the Apex of the turn, otherwise there
is nothing to pull during the second half.
- Rotation during the EC turn is crucial, and it's important to rotate at
the hips, not just the torso.
- At the end of the turn, make sure you are doing the cross-under transition
properly: you should suck the board under you during the pull phase by bending
- Try to "close" the current turn before transitioning into the next turn: don't initiate the body rotation until the board is perpendicular to the fall line.
- You can practice the push-pull style anywhere on the mountain without laying
it down: push on the first half of the turn and pull on the second half.
- When learning the EC technique as a beginner, it's ideal to carve on runs
that are somewhat of a quarter pipe: the slopes at the sides will help you
on the pull phase. A few runs that may help:
- The Warm Springs run at Sun Valley
- The main trail under the gondola at Ajax
- Some of the runs returning to the front side of Buttermilk.
- More tips on technique can be found in the ExtremeCarving Compendium , a list of tips compiled by a rabid EC rider.
- The ExtremeCarving site now has an EC FAQ, which points to various useful forum threads.
- There are a few great time-sequence photos of EC on the Pokkis photo gallery.
The ExtremeCarving team recommends a setup that is somewhat unique:
- To accommodate fully extended legs, they use boots with a cuff that can
lean back into a fully upright position. Raichle AF700s cannot flex completely
upright, but can be modified by cutting more threads on the adjuster bolt
to allow the cuff to lean further back.
- To get the right amount of boot stiffness, they use boots with a medium
progressive flex, controlled by a spring. There are a few options:
- Currently they use Northwave .900
or .950 boots (discontinued) with a softer modified spring.
Patrice further softened the boots by cutting a crease on the tongue. It's also possible to soften the boots by replacing the Northwave tongue with a tongue from the Raichle SB series.
RAB mechanism that comes with Raichle AF700s is too stiff, but can be modified by using
a softer spring.
- For EC, the AF600 (with the RAB mechanism) is preferred over
the AF700. the lean adjuster in AF600 boots is not sufficient: when locked, it's too stiff, and when unlocked, it does not provide sufficient flex stiffness.
- The UPZ boots have a spring that is too stiff, in addition to a limited range of flex movement.
- The ExtremeCarving people have modified head boots with a better spring system.
- Because the EC style gets the board almost vertical on edge, it's important
to avoid boot overhang.
- For EC, it is ideal to use bindings that provide a softer lateral flex, to absorb bumps while the board is nearly vertical. They don't advise step-in bindings, which have too much lateral stiffness. It may be possible to use step-in bindings with softer boots, like the Raichle SB series, but then you won't get the right boot flex.
- In addition, because the EC style tilts the board very high on edge and causes the board to bend into a small radius turn, it is
important to allow the board to flex into a perfect circle in order to gain the most edge hold. In order to achieve this shape, the bindings must not distort the flex pattern of the board. For this reason, bindings
should have a small footprint, and should have enough flex in the binding baseplate to allow the board to easily bend underneath it..
- The EC people run flat bindings on the front and rear. Zero lift and cant works for
them because in the middle of a turn with legs fully extended, the board will
decamber, bringing the front and rear knees together. However, this setup
also puts a lot of stress on the binding bails.
- The EC people recommend several bindings that have the right stiffness and
footprint for EC:
- The Head DNA / Blax Stealth models, regular style (not step-in). For '06, the regular style is available only in Japan. The Head Intec models are too stiff.
- Fin's Race Carbon bindings (discontinued, and not to be confused with Bomber)
- The Snowpro Race bindings have about the right stiffness and footprint size.
- The Bomber TD2 regular binding with the yellow ring offers vibration
dampening while also maintaining edge hold. The Titanium version of the TD2 has Titanium heel and toe bail, which may have the necessary strength for EC. However, the toe bail of the TD2 sticks out a bit too far, so the ExtremeCarving people are using toe levers from the Cateks on the TD2s. Update: The Catek toe levers might need modification for use on the TD2. In addition, the TD2 has a bit too much binding height; the extremecarving people shaves off 3mm, and were able to notice an improvement.
- F2 Race titanium (not the step-in) have the right stiffness. The bindings come in two sizes: medium and large. Get the medium size, if possible, because the footprint is smaller. The F2 bindings have toe levers which are close to the boot, to minimize boot overhang. The bindings have 5mm bails, which are more durable than the 4.5mm bails of the Head DNA.
- They prefer bindings that have less built-in cant/lift. The minimum cant/lift works with the lower binding angles, and it also provides more rotational freedom, which is especially important for heel side.
- The bindings should also have a lower overall height. By keeping the binding height low:
- The rider can feel the terrain, and adjust quickly
- The body lever is smaller, which makes it easier to perform quick transitions.
- They run lower binding angles: no more than 55° in front and 48°
in back. The low angles provide:
- More rotational freedom, which is most important for the heel side turns.
- Mobility, which allows more freedom for the knees to perform the push-pull
extension maneuver. It is also needed to better control the inclination
of the turn.
- More power transmission from the feet to the edge of the board.
- However, it's important to verify that your angles are not causing boot-out: You should be able to tilt the board up to around 85° without any part of your boots dragging in the snow, for both heelside and toeside.
They use a custom-fabricated carving board, the SWOARD ExtremeCarver. See the board details on the boards page. The board was designed based on the needs of the ExtremeCarving technique:
- Because ExtremeCarving requires low binding angles, the board is built wider
(21-23 cm width).
- In order to achieve good edge grip with such a wide board, the essential
feature of the board is an inner carbon matrix that gives the board medium
longitudinal flex and high torsional stiffness.
- It has a sidecut radius of around 12-13 M, which is optimal
- Because the board is ridden nearly vertically on edge, the flex pattern significantly influences the final decambered sidecut radius.
- The EC people use normal edge bevels: 2°-3° side and 0°-1°
And finally, The ExtremeCarving technique is a riddle
wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, because you can't understand
it or analyze how it works until you can actually do it, and this paradox
means that you will encounter a steep learning curve on your way to achieving Totally Laid, Linked Turns.
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