How to Carve Like a Downhill Racer on Skis

Have you ever sat on the chairlift and seen those ski racers bombing down the hill? Maybe not, but they earn respect after carving ruts inches deep in the snow at super fast speeds and now you can learn how.


  1. Image titled Carve Like a Downhill Racer on Skis Step 1
    Start by finding a large, gently pitched slope, preferably with not too many people.
  2. Image titled Carve Like a Downhill Racer on Skis Step 2
    Practice making slow, parallel turns with your skis.
  3. Image titled Carve Like a Downhill Racer on Skis Step 3
    Position your skis a little more than shoulder's width apart. You don't want them so close that they could get tangled up with each other in mid-turn, but you want them far enough apart for stability. The right width is important in making banked turns without your knees colliding.
  4. Image titled Carve Like a Downhill Racer on Skis Step 4
    Apply pressure to the forward-inside edge of the ski that will be the 'outside' ski for the turn (i.e., right ski, if turning to left). Focus on putting you weight on the ball of your foot just behind your big toe and on your inside arch, at the same time as you press your shin forward gently on the cuff of the boot. As you start to turn, push your inside ski slightly forward (and lift that inside knee slightly, which will commit your weight to the inside of the turn) and let your hips fall in and forward toward the inside of the turn. Keep forward pressure on that forward inside edge of the outside ski until the turn comes all the way around. Make sure that no matter how sharp your turn is that your upper body remains parallel to the hill. (Not tipping your shoulders)
  5. Image titled Carve Like a Downhill Racer on Skis Step 5
    Keep your forward and into-the-hill hip angle and stick with it throughout the turn. Commit to the turn! Do not exit the turn too early (which would be when you are accelerating straight downhill -- trust that your forward and inward pressure will bring that ski around). Remember: finish the turn skiing perpendicular to (across) the slope before going on to the next turn.
  6. Image titled Carve Like a Downhill Racer on Skis Step 6
    Straighten your turning leg and step onto inside edge of the other ski at the same moment as you plant your pole for the next turn ("plant up", meaning plant pole as you straighten up and shift your weight). Then repeat, going the other direction into the next turn.
  7. Image titled Carve Like a Downhill Racer on Skis Step 7
    Build a slight up-down rhythm that is also slightly rotary (forward-up at the beginning, or top, of the turn, on your big toe, and sinking to have weight slightly farther back onto your inside arch-heel as you come through the turn, to keep the edge from skidding, then up-forward again as you make your next pole plant.
  8. Image titled Carve Like a Downhill Racer on Skis Step 8
    At first, you can allow almost all your weight to be riding on the inside edge of your outside (or turning) ski. With shape skis, as you get more proficient, you can learn to keep more weight on your inside ski, carving that ski in the same fashion as the outside ski (except on the inside ski you have to weight the 'outside' of the ball of your foot inside the boot).


  • Once you've gotten really good at it, move on to steeper pitches. (Do not try to "Carve" in powder.)
  • If at first you don't succeed, try again. There's no shame in falling; in fact you can't learn without falling. As Nancy Greene once said (Canada's top ski racer in the 1960s), falling is fine, as long as it's spectacular, you come out OK with battle scars, and there are people around to see it and help pick up the pieces.
  • Let your upper body remain facing downhill more than your hips, accomplished by slight pivot at waist.
  • Make sure to lift the inside ski more than you would during a normal turn. This gets both skis up on edge and allows you to power through the turn with good lean.
  • Shaped, or parabolic, skis will want to naturally turn when put on edge, so you need less pressure control inside the boot and less forward-back rotary motion. With shape skis, think "Push pelvis forward and in, both knees in", and everything else will follow
  • Begin with a groomed and hard slope.
  • Keep your shoulders square to the fall line (facing downhill) and hands out front.
  • Do not caress the snow. You are skiing aggressively, so plant the inside pole deliberately.


  • Wear safety gear!
  • Avoid trying this alone. It's a good idea to have friends with you. You'll need someone else to contact emergency response in case of injury.

Things You'll Need

  • Skis, Boots, a Helmet and poles
  • A lift ticket or community ski slope
  • The ability to ski comfortably on intermediate (Blue square and black diamond in the U.S. and Canada) And blue and red runs (In Europe)

Article Info

Categories: Snow Skiing