Miscellaneous Carving info
As a carver, you must become a groomer gourmet. Your job is to seek out the
time and place of the best grooming before everyone else tracks it up, and to
maximize your time on the best groomers. There is a 3 hour window of premium
carving time that starts the moment the lifts open, and you don't want to waste
it. You should try to minimize the time that you spend fiddling with your gear,
such as the time spent swapping bindings. Rather than swap bindings, invest
in a second set of bindings or at least a "2nd board kit" that makes
swapping easier. Also try to do as much tweaking and adjusting as possible the
night before, rather than on the hill. Bear in mind some strategic information:
- Get to the resort early so you can be the first one in line for the chairlift.
Even on a holiday Saturday, The slopes are
usually uncrowded for the first hour of the day.
- Many resorts publish a daily grooming trail map that highlights groomed
- A handful of resorts sometimes have a "noon groom" for one or
two runs. Resorts with a history of noon grooming include: Beaver Creek, Gunstock,
- Some resorts, like Whistler and Ajax, offer a first tracks program, which gets you
access to the lifts early for a small additional cost.
- Make friends with the ski patrol. One of them might invite you to "help
set up some poles" before the lifts open.
- Some resorts open the lifts earlier on busier days like Saturday, or on
days when races are held.
- Figure out the best sequence for carving runs. Some of the best runs may
get crowded and tracked up earlier in the day, at which point you may want
to switch to runs that are not quite as great but less frequented. As your
technique improves, you will be able to progress to steeper runs, which are
sometimes less crowded. If ice is not a problem, Northwest facing runs can be the best, since they
get morning shade.
- Buy a pass. That way you can leave the resort at noon when the terrain is
chopped up, and not worry about trying to maximize the amount of slope time
per $60 lift ticket.
- If you can make it to noon, you get an hour on the slope when everyone else
is having lunch.
- The more you weigh, the easier it will be to power through crud.
- Resorts can't groom as much if the cover is thin.
- Resorts often don't groom as much is there is an overnight snowfall.
- It's best to carve on snow that has been groomed at least twice: if it snows
on Wednesday night, it is ideal to wait until Friday to carve. Some carvers
prefer three groomings.
- The sad fact of the matter is that the best runs for carving are the ones that get closed off for races.
- Some resorts are increasing catering to the jibber crowd. The ultimate worst incarnation would be a resort that closes off the best carving run for races, and then converts all the remaining runs to snow parks. We must rely on the baby boomer demographic to force resorts to maintain well-groomed runs for old people with bad knees.
- Consider night boarding: The resort usually grooms right before the night session, and there are fewer people.
The need for proper grooming:
- The quality of the grooming depends heavily on the skill of the operator.
You will know when a new guy has been assigned to your favorite run.
- Groomers are like teamsters - you can bribe them with a few 6-packs.
- Some resorts use better grooming equipment and methods. There are two major
manufacturers of grooming equipment: Pisten
Bully, in Austria, and Bombardier,
in Canada. There is a general consensus in the grooming community that in
the hands of a skilled groomer, Bombardier equipment has an advantage. See
Koz's Snowgrooming Links
for a glimpse into the night-owl netherworld of groomers. Or, ride along with
a groomer at Aspen Mountain: "Ride with the groomers in the big rigs
- Free Snowcat Rides on Aspen Mountain (beginning December 30th). Space is
limited; sign up in advance, 800-525-6200."
- SKI Magazine has an annual resort ranking
in the October issue. They break out the scores for grooming, and Deer Valley
in Utah is usually ranked #1, but they don't allow snowboarders. You cannot
carve there on a Skwal, because on a single board, Deer Valley stipulates
only side-by-side bindings, like on a monoski.
- Each year, the NSAA holds a competition among the top groomers called the phaTcat Challenge, and one of the heats is the "straight pass" where groomers attempt seamless grooming.
- A few resorts have a "grooming guarantee," and will refund your money if the grooming is not to your liking. Usually, you have to complain before a certain time (like 10:30 AM):
- Resorts owned by Intrawest have the curse of bad grooming, since Intrawest
is primarily concerned with selling real estate and not much else. Intrawest
also tends to sell a bazillion cheap passes, resulting in crowded runs. Then, since they already have your money, they close early for the season. Intrawest
resorts include: Whistler, Tremblant, Panorama, Blue Mountain, Mammoth Mountain/June, Snowshoe/Silver Creek, Stratton, Copper Mountain, Winter Park, Mountain Creek.
- Believe it or not, carvers are not the most anally-retentive people when
it comes to grooming. World class freestyle ski jumpers will groom the approach
and the takeoff area of a jump by hand using "precision" grooming
- There are two dangers of carving in slush: auguring the nose, and getting
stuck in your own trench.
- Spring skiing usually means slush before noon, but when daylight savings
time kicks in, you get an extra hour of higher-quality cold-weather snow,
assuming the resort opens at the same time. In the US, the time change is
the first Sunday in April, and in Europe, it's the last Sunday in March.
- In the spring, if the wind keeps up, the snow is better.
- Carving conditions can be highly variable in the spring - even if the conditions
look bad on paper, it can wind up being great for carving.
- Late in the season, resorts sometimes stop grooming entirely because of
the thin cover.
Originally, snowmaking machines required temperatures below 23º F to operate. However, newer machinery can produce snow in temperatures as high as 29º F, according to Charles Santry, president of Snow Economics in Natick, Mass. Resorts add a powder called SnowMax to the water fed to snowmaking machines. SnowMax provides the "seed" necessary to accelerate snow crystal formation. As it turns out, SnowMax is a protein extracted from the excrement of bacteria. So, when you are carving on man-made snow, you are carving on bacteria poop. Every once in a while, someone brings up the inevitable health concerns, but nobody really cares.
Carving is a fair-weather sport, so it helps to fine-tune your skills in meteorology.
- The National Weather Service predicts
snow altitude accurately.
- Weather.com predicts hour-by-hour
- SnowForecast.com has a few good
- A very cool 3 day (free) and 6 day (paid) snow forecast. Plus, they
show you the weather at the top and bottom of the mountain.
- El Niño historical data for California.
- El Niño historical data for Colorado.
- You can get raw weather info directly from the GOES-West satellite.
- You can get predictions of the weather years in advance for the US
- El Niño and La Niña info at the Climate
- In some parts of the country, the best carving is right before a storm, since
the temperature usually drops.
When checking a board bag on a flight, protect the edges of your boards with
pipe insulation, available at Home Depot. If you use tape, it's ideal to use gaffer's tape, which does not leave a residue. Don't use duct tape, since it will leave a nasty adhesive on your topsheet or base, and/or pull out wax from the pores in your base, just like a facial. Make sure you have pipe insulation on the tip and tail, since
that's where most boards get dropped. Pipe insulation also protects the inside
of your bag from the board edges. A board bag with wheels will save your shoulders
from getting thrashed.
The bad news is that airlines are enforcing oversize bag rules and excess bag
rules. For 2003, airlines raked in $259M in excess baggage fees. The rules vary widely from airline to airline and are often not posted
on the airline's web sites. Ticket counter people may or may not enforce them.
You may want to try using curbside check-in along with a generous tip. Here
is a summary of the rules:
- Most airlines have a 2-item free baggage allowance per ticketed passenger.
One of your free baggage allowance items can be a board+boot bag - for all
airlines, your board bag and your boot bag are considered a single item. A
3rd item results in an excess baggage charge of ~$80 each way. So if you have
two suitcases and a board bag, you will be charged $80 each way. Unfortunately,
the complete details of what the airline will or will not allow are usually
not available on the airline's web site - you can only get the "fine
print" by calling a reservation agent on the phone, and then asking to
talk with that person's manager.
- Except for Northwest, each board bag is only allowed to carry one board.
If you have more than one board in the board bag, the airline will charge
you for each extra board. There is a simple way to get around this problem:
if the person at the check-in counter asks you how many boards you have in
the board bag, tell them you have only one.
- When checking regular luggage, most airlines impose an oversize fee if the
linear measurement (length+width+height) adds up to more than 62 inches, which
is why a lot of gear bag companies offer a bag size of around 30" x 15"
- Generally, airlines offer baggage damage liability of up to $2,500 per ticketed
passenger. If you are flying with multiple people, split up the gear so that
no one person checks more than $2,500 of luggage.
- The check-in people tend to be sticklers when it comes to snowboards, but
long skis don't seem to bother them. You can tell them that you have fat powder
- The SporTube is a hard case that can hold a bunch of boards. However, the airline's weight limit (usually 50 lbs) still applies.
A double ski bag also works for alpine boards.
- For International flights or flights to Canada, all bets are off: call the
airline to check.
- In some cases, it may be cheaper to mail your boards to wherever you are
going. For sessions, consider mailing your board to your hotel in advance.
Here are the airline baggage policies for '06, according to
the "head managers" at the phone reservation centers. All airlines
allow up to 2 checked items, and one of those items can be a board + boot bag.
For most airlines, no limit has been spelled out for the size or weight of the
"boot bag," which means that theoretically, it can be as large as
a regular checked bag. But don't count on it - if it looks like the bag has
more than boots, you might get hit with a surcharge.
||Board Bag Length limit
||Boot Bag limit
|United / Ted
||Can only contain boots
||Can only contain boots
||Can only contain boots
||Can only contain boots
||Can only contain boots
||Can only contain boots
||no limit (up to 2 boards)
||Can only contain boots
||Can only contain boots
||Can only contain boots
You cannot get a hex wrench through security. And do not wear Bomber swag at
New travel restrictions will go into effect from Canada to the US: you will need a passport, rather than just a driver's license. In addition, Canada is likely to impose the same restrictions on travel from the US to Canada:
- December 31, 2006 Requirement applies to all air and sea travel to or from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.
- December 31, 2007 Requirement extended to all land border crossings as well as air and sea travel.
- If you are flying between the US and Canada, be aware that in the worst
case scenario, it will take you 3 hours to get through customs, which may
cause you to miss a connecting flight.
- The best exchange rate comes from ATMs, but in airports, search for ATMs
set up by an actual bank: the convenient ones right outside customs often
have rip-off exchange rates.
Carving for kids
- Check out the GeezerX chronicles Vol
19 for info on teaching 5 year old kids to board. For carving, it's best
to wait until age 8, after kids have mastered the ability to stop in case
of an emergency. It's also a good sign if they express an interest first.
- It helps if kids hone their balance beforehand on things like skateboards.
- Kids often have an easier learning curve by starting off on skis. They can
work on their strength, balance and edge skills. The transition from skis
to a snowboard is easy because they can use the same boots.
See Kid-Ski.com for tips on getting kids into skiing.
- Make sure kids don't reach for the slope to lay it over: They must learn
to angulate, by keeping their hands up.
- Kids boards
- Use a board that reaches up to a height between the chin and nose.
- Oxygen sells the Neutron race board, a 139 cm model.
- Rabanser Snowboards sells kids race boards down to 110 cm.
- The-House.com and eBay have a good selection of small boards.
- Kids Boots/Bindings
- Smaller kids can learn to carve in softer 2 or 3 buckle ski boots. 4-buckle
might be too stiff. Ski boots have the advantage of a longer sole base,
which makes them more likely to work with adult-sized bindings, like the
Burton Carrier bindings. Kids can also easily switch between skiing and
riding during the day.
- Some bindings do not accommodate smaller size boots. If you are using
boots smaller than size 25, you may need to order modified versions of
Bombers or Cateks that go smaller.
- Just about all snowboard manufacturers made junior plate bindings that will work
for Junior DIN size ski boots. Commonly found kids bindings include the
Burton kids carrier binding, and the Nidecker Freecarve Jr. Plate Binding.
- Bomber and Donek have a stash of youth equipment not listed on their sites.
- Teenagers are generally not interested in carving, because their buddies
are all in soft gear.
DeeLuxe/Raichle previously made the Spa Lady boot, a 3-buckle boot with a low
cuff. However, there is no reason to go with a lower cuff boot - it's better
to go with a 4-buckle boot with softer plastic. Much of the difference between
men's and women's boots is the liner, so if you can't find women's boots in
stock, go with the Raichle AF600 boots with a heat moldable liner.
The Burton Ice was designed specifically for ladies.
For 2004, the percentage of snowboarders who are female dipped to 26.6%, down from 34.3% in 2003. The percentage of carvers who are women is much smaller,
and no one knows why. Women make up about 10% of people who carve at least once
during the season, and most of these women attend the larger carving sessions
- you will see maybe 10 women out of 100 carvers in attendance. But during the
season, women carvers put in far fewer days of carving, and sightings are quite
rare. Women generally have more flexibility, which definitely provides an advantage.
Summer Cross training
There's a new longboard maker in town: Original Skateboards. They are a small company with hands-on customer service. Check out the the "Custom 45 Complete Longboard"
Three summer carving toys stand out:
- The Tierney-Rides T-board provides a carving feel, and it really hones
your balance. It is not useful for skating/transportation, and you go through wheels rather quickly.
- A Slalom skateboard / Longboard, such as:
- The CarveBoard. It's easy to learn,
very forgiving, won't slide, turns tightly on moderate pitches, and you can
take it to the back hills. However, it's heavy (for hiking back up the hill),
and is not useful for skating/transportation.
Other summer carving devices:
- The BMW Streetcarver, no longer manufactured, but available on eBay.
- The Flowlab. It has inline wheels,
which limits the grip and how much you can tip it, and it requires smooth hills.
It doesn't provide as much of a carving feel as the Tierney. It can be used for skating/transportation and is lightweight for
- The Freebord
gets consistently bad reviews for carving: it's really designed to skid.
- A weird dry-land carving board
- Rock boarding
- Sandboarding is done on boards
with a formica base and special wax. Venomous
Boards is one maker. See Sandboard Magazine
- The Powerboarding website showcases
just about every type of powered board imaginable, including the PowerSki
JetBoard, a $6000 jet ski that can carve.
- The Carvis, a carving rollerskate
Dry land snowboard simulator
A company in Japan has come up with the Carving Master, a dry-land carving simulator for your snowboard. See the product specs.
Weight lifting helps dramatically, especially free weights that build muscle
stabilization. Check out the snowboard
workout page. If you start weight lifting in July you will be ready for
the winter. During the season, you can decrease the chance of getting muscle
injuries by exercising on a regular basis.
Certain muscles are part of balanced pairs: if you work one muscle in the pair,
you should work the opposing (antagonist) muscle. In addition, you can alternate
between exercise sets of opposing pairs without resting, which speeds the workout.
Here is a general regimen for carving:
- The quadriceps muscles (leg extensions), paired with the hamstring muscles
- Calf muscles - you need to do both standing calf raises and sitting calf
raises to get a full calf workout. If you are susceptible to shin splints,
you should also exercise the opposing tibia muscles (toe raises) to maintain
- The glut muscles (squats or hack squats).
Then, before the cardio workout, give your legs muscles a rest by doing some
mid and upper body exercises:
- The abdominal muscles (crunches), paired with lower back muscles (lower
- Biceps muscles (arm curls), paired with triceps muscles (triceps push-down).
- Chest muscles (bench press), paired with back muscles (seated rows).
- The oblique muscles (side raises, or side crunches).
Then, do a cardio workout, such as the stationary bike, the stairmaster, the
treadmill, or the elliptical cross-trainer cycle. On the elliptical, pedal forward
to work the glutes and hamstrings, and pedal backwards to work the quads and
calves. Don't do more than 20 minutes on any one machine, and try to do at least
two different machines. Give each muscle 48 hours of rest between weight lifting
More training options
- A lot of racers do plyometrics (jumping exercises) to hone twitch muscle
and make edge changes faster.
- Yoga can provide the flexibility needed to contort yourself into a carving
stance, and Pilates can help with balance.
- Unfortunately, there are no gym exercises that will fully prepare your muscles
for carving, so you will be mostly in pain after your first day of the season.
- You also need to work your shoulders, since you will be scraping and brushing
and scraping and brushing all season long.
- You can work on your balance using balance boards like the Vew-Do Indy Board or the Indo-Board while watching TV (as seen on TV)
- You can do a bunch of exercises using just an exercise ball ($20, as seen on TV): crunches, side crunches, lower back raises, calf raises, leg
presses, and balance exercises.
How to speak SwitzerDütsch
Carving is popular in Europe, where carvers converse across language barriers
using an international dialect of English known as SwitzerDütsch. Over
time, advanced carvers have been known to develop a SwitzerDütsch-speaking
alter ego; a kind of split-personality - Ja! Sprechen sie SwitzerDütsch!
Zie Esperanto auf carving! These carvers always make the pilgrimage to
sessions with great terrain, like Aspen - Ja! Dat vas like "licensed
driver on closed road!" Vee still dream about dat! They have an impressive
carving style that turns heads. As a result, they tend to attract groupies,
who are not always in the optimal demographic, especially at Aspen - Ach!
Vee talking middle-aged, mit faux leopard skin! Ach! Since their technique
is so precise, they are often seen at the side of a run micro-adjusting their
stance - Ja. Vee twiddle mit die sprockets! Yet they are always seeking
more carving knowledge, which is why they attend lots of carve camps - Ja.
vee need vun of doz carve tune-ups - vee vant more of dat alpin Fahrvergnügen!
You might see these folks carving down steep ice on a longer board, like maybe
a Sims Burner 197 - Ja! Vee go mach schnell! The only time they aren't
seen carving is on a powder day, when it's too dangerous to carve because of
the chance of pearling into the snow - und breaken sie tib und fib! Ach!
But when it dumps, they are pros at surfing in powder, often cranking the angles
on soft bindings up toward 45 - Ja! vee really pushing doz softies!
In addition to advanced carving skill, the SwitzerDütsch split-personality
develops one other trait: a taste for bavarian cooking - Ja! vee love dat
hot sausagevurst! ... Ach! vee don't mean it like dat! Dis is familie almanac!
... Only Matinée! ... no evening show!
It's rare to find SwitzerDütsch spoken on the net, but there are a few
places to look:
- Search through posts on Bomber for the rantings of Shred
- Scott speaks SwitzerDütsch part-time. See the Sun
- There is a show on German television called Sprockets, hosted by Dieter - Ja! dat's pronounced "Schprockets", for any
of you non-SwitzerDütsch speaking!
Jean Nerva / Peter Bauer profile
Speaking of SwitzerDütsch: The April 1991 issue of Transworld Snowboarding contains an interview / profile of Peter Bauer and Jean Nerva. The stats on each:
- Peter Bauer is the one with the long hair, who yodels. He raced for 15 years on skis. He's from the village of Schliersee, Germany.
- Jean Nerva is the taller one. He was a music teacher from Maurice, France.
They placed well in snowboard races: In 1990, Jean placed first, and Peter placed second in the World Cup Slalom. In the interview, they discuss the Eurocarve fashion style: Peter Bauer says "It's so funny for us that the Americans think we're faggy ... It started in Stratton. We arrived in full print pants. The Americans from the East Coast were all conservative ... We were sitting in this lodge, eating burgers, and one guy came up to me and said, 'are you guys fags, or are you Europeans?'"
We got an email from a gal wanting gift suggestions for a carving husband. Look no further than a base repair pistol (also called a P-Tex gun). It is just expensive enough to make it a frivolous luxury. So carvers don't buy it for themselves. But they want one, because:
- It provides an easy, safe, and effective way to apply high-temperature base repair material to a damaged snowboard base.
- Carving gear involves highly personal choices, so rather than buying actual gear for someone, it's better to buy repair tools for the current gear.
- It could actually pay for itself, since high-quality base repairs are now a DIY option.
- He owns way too many boards anyway, so a new deck may not be a good option.
Having trouble explaining to Aunt Edna the difference between carving and freeriding?
Make a HelmetCam video. The HelmetCam cottage industry has sprung up with a
few systems integrators:
Also Check eBay, and Pete Fagerlin's home
Kitesnowboarding is an offshoot of kitesurfing. It's easier than kitesurfing
but potentially more dangerous. Check out:
For Kite snowboarding, you should use a twin-tip snowboard with a large sidecut
radius. The board should be wide enough to allow 0º binding angles without
overhang. You should also use boots that are softer than typical race boots.
You need a smaller kite than you would for kitesurfing, because snow has less
resistance than water. However, you need a larger kite for powder than for hardpack.
Bruce Varsava is a kiteboarder, so ask him to make you a board.
Also check out:
Carving with freeride buddies
Actually, this can be a bit difficult, especially when you explain that you
would like to:
- Wake up at 0-dark-hundred to arrive at the resort almost as early as the
- Stay on the groomed blue runs only.
- Stick to the one run at the resort that is best for carving.
- Stop every 6 turns to catch your breath and visualize.
- Leave at noon when the terrain gets chopped up.
- Wait for two groomings after the fresh snow before boarding.
Snowboard Outreach Society
||The Snowboard Outreach
Society is a non-profit organization that attempts to cure society's
ills by teaching snowboarding skills to at-risk youth. The main idea:
If kids are busy snowboarding, they're not robbing convenience stores.
If you have old boards that you plan to get rid of, consider donating
them to the SOS.
What does carving feel like? The short answer is that it feels exactly the
way it looks. Carving has a similar feel to some other sports:
- Surfing, and in particular, carving a good bottom turn.
- Water skiing or wake boarding.
- Slalom Skateboarding.
- Coiler is named after fake dog poop.
- Check out the finite-element analysis that illustrates the stress pattern of hardboot bindings
- Measuring G-force on a snowboard with an accelerometer.
- Skiers can also carve
using an outrigger technique. Skiers also have their own type of ski carving competition.
- Check out Tandem
- There is a pretty good writeup on the fundamentals of snowboarding technique
- Unable to find a sponsor, Sabina Blassnig competed in bra
- Starting in '06, F2 has come out with AirBase technology, which pumps your board full of air. The F2 web sight says that it "absorbs blows on icy slopes perfectly" when carving.
- Mike Tinkler previously sold the Snow Stix, which were metal rods that could stiffen up a board.
- Carvers are an older demographic. A group photo looks like the Rotary club out for adventure.
- Check out Maciek's Java carving
- The SnowSports Industries America
(SIA) puts on a trade show every January in Las Vegas, where retailers get
a sneak peek at what's in store for next year. Unfortunately, the big companies
that make alpine gear usually do not bring samples of those products (does
this mean carving gear doesn't even qualify as a sub-niche?). The show sells
out almost a year in advance.
- See the Ski News section of First
Tracks Online Magazine for the inside scoop
- The longevity of carving as a sport is limited only by the availability
of boots. If the few remaining boot manufacturers went out of business, alpine
would start to die. DeeLuxe is in it for the long run, but Head is less certain.
UPZ is anyone's guess.
- In almost all cases, shops that stock alpine gear do so because the owner
- See the Ski Area Management website
and the NSAA (National Ski Area Association) to keep tabs on what the resorts are up to.
Because carving is rare and exotic, it is susceptible to myths:
|It's impossible to find gear
||Between Bomber and eBay, you're set.
||eBay is your friend.
||Hard boots protect your ankles.
|The boots are uncomfortable
||Not with a Thermoflex liner and a bootfitter.
|It's good for ice
||But requires exponentially more skill.
||Carving on a freeride board is harder.
|Carvers are young, extreme riders
||Carvers are old, extreme riders.
|You go fast
||More advanced riders go slow using tighter turns.
Resources for building your own snowboard:
Carving is totally different from freeriding, because carvers strive to never
skid the board. Carving is different from racing because the intent is to decamber
the board into its natural turn radius when it is high on edge, not the turn
radius needed to pass a gate. As a result, carving has its own unique feeling
of efficiency and perfection:
- Except for skydiving, carving is the best way to experience gravity in its
purest form. When carving, it feels like you are flying on a magic carpet,
because you are channeling gravity in the most efficient way possible. Carving
is so efficient that it feels like you are being propelled by something more
than just gravity - a fifth force that is derived entirely from geometric
symmetry. Perfectly carved turns have a feeling of absolute purity, as if
the board is traveling down a straight line in 4-Dimensional space-time. If
you want to experience the sensation of swimming in a gravity field, go carving.
- Speaking of Space-Time, there is a moment in time known as the event horizon, when space comes to a halt. It happens when you have just finished the last turn, and you are transitioning into the next turn. At that moment, there is an inflection point that lasts for 0.0001 seconds, and it determines the shape of the next turn - your destiny is cast.
- Carving defies analysis. The essence of carving goes way beyond Burtonian Physics. To complicate matters, carving has its own version of relativity - Carving gear has a measureable performance only when compared to other carving gear, on the slope, with the same conditions. Which means you can't compare specs. The more you think about the mechanisms of gear performance, the more wrong your thinking will become. To wit:
- Carving is like being in orbit: you are always falling ...
- And carvers fall continuously during each turn ...
- And carvers recover from each fall by getting up ...
- And carvers get up by falling across their board, into the next turn ...
- But overthinking, without experiencing, leads to the fallacy of epicycles, not to the reality of orbits.
- Carving style defines riders. Each rider has a very specific style that is almost as unique as fingerprints, and this carving style is capable of providing biometric identification.
- Carving is the real deal: whereas park rats have become mainstream, alpine
is retro, anti-establishment, and extreme at the same time.
- Carvers in the East coast are by far the most skilled. They have to be,
because the blue-plate ice makes everything go twice as fast. It's a zone
where all thoughts must keep up with a faster version of real time. Which
begs the question: after they get used to carving within the bounds of accelerated
time, does the rest of reality seem slow?
- Carving is a gentleman's sport. Carvers have a taste for fair weather and
fine grooming. Carvers drop into a run one at a time, always waiting until
uphill traffic has passed. Carvers are always bleeding off speed from carving
tight turns, progressing down the slope at a genteel pace. They constantly
look over their shoulder and allow speeding skiers to play through. Carvers
tune their boards to a much higher standard than the unwashed masses of park
rats, and enjoy the relaxing therapeutic benefits of scraping and brushing.
Carving perfect circles down steep ice may be met with polite golf clapping.
Whereas gentlemen of the past may have asked "who is your tailor?"
carvers ask "who is your bootfitter?" And finally, chancing upon
another carver in the wild leads to mutual introductions in a "Dr. Livingston,
I presume" sort of way.
- Carving is similar to black magic or voodoo. It seems to have its own separate
laws of physics, and allows you to pull off stunning feats of display if you
have a 170+ cm magic wand and know the right incantations. When you perform,
people will stop and stare at you in disbelief. Some carvers seem to break
the laws of physics: Did Vin cast a Faustian bargain to rail like that on
a soft setup? In other sports, great athletes make it look easy. In carving,
great carvers make it look impossible. The most skilled boot fitters and instructors
are regarded as shamans, and people will travel long distances to seek them
out. The science of equipment adjustment is a form of alchemy, since there
are so many settings on carving gear that can be tweaked, and some carvers
don't quite understanding why a particular adjustment helps or hinders carving
performance. The mystery extends to technique - skilled carvers can demonstrate
good technique, but truly great carvers know why their technique works. What
is the magic sidecut that gives Sean's boards incredible railing power? Complete
knowledge of the fundamental laws of carving physics is a constant obsession,
yet just out of reach. The obsession lasts through summer, with carvers attending
summer race camps. As winter approaches, the announcement of the first resort
to open is like sighting the crescent moon of Ramadan. Subtle variations in
snow texture can throw off your technique, and there will be days when you
just can't hold an edge - sort of like going to the driving range and hitting
nothing but slices. For these days when the carving gods are not smiling upon
you, it is necessary to pray in the direction of Sölden before each run.
- Carving feels like the perfect way to ride down the hill, both in space
(geometrically) and time (rhythmically): it achieves a sweet spot of forces
in the space-time continuum that is both physical and spiritual. Carvers experience
an inner force that drives them to seek out this harmony, which explains why
many carvers talk about carving as if it were a religion. If it's not spiritual,
then it's definitely visual, with carvers visualizing their carving style
while carving a turn, while on the chairlift, and before every run. Carving
has an element of purity. Even people who have never snowboarded will look
at a carver and know instinctively that there is something about carving that
is profoundly balanced. A day of carving perfect circles seems to re-balance
the soul - it's far more effective than those pyramid power hats. Some carvers
become puritans, and embrace carving as the only "correct" way to
snowboard, reviling even a moment of skidding, for it is like committing a
sin. There is a deep sense of community among the carving crowd, and carvers
are generally eager to spread the word about carving, like fanatical missionaries
expanding the membership of a religious sect. Carving has its religious factions
(ExtremeCarving), its initiation rituals (getting slapped around by the terrain,
along with a little public humiliation), its pilgrimages (the many Sessions),
and the leap of faith (that your board will catch you before you hit the slope).
Many carvers are evangelistic about carving and won't hesitate to try to convert
someone. If you express an interest in carving, a hardbooter will likely offer
to loan you half his gear. Carving has a sort of Ying-Yang / Fung-Shui effect:
You can't have a balanced chi without a balanced board, and you can't balance
your board without a balanced chi. To top it off, carvers tend to covet religious
artifacts of the past, like Madd snowboards. The progress of a carver on a
quest for the perfect heel side can be predicted by a universal prophecy:
- Before you reach the advanced level of carving, you will have four breakthroughs.
- But one of those breakthroughs will be a false epiphany.
- By the time you reach the third breakthrough, you will have revised
every one of your long-held beliefs on technique.
- Just when you think you have grasped a unified, canonical truth of carving,
you will realize it doesn't exist. Only then can you achieve true mastery.
- The Carver's Almanac is a forbidden knowledge - It's the Kelly Blue Book
meets the Necronomicon, and when carvers start reading it, they usually can't
stop until they get to the very end.
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