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Old 02-13-2012, 03:44 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default What to do with Back knee when Carving

Hi guys,
I have a question on what the proper technique is for your back knee when trying to carve. I know for toeside turns you are supposed to bring your front knee in towards back of the board, and heelside turns you rotate it out to the front of the board, but I have never been clear on what to do with the back knee. Previously I kept it pretty still and only rotated my front knee in and out, but I went up this weekend and experimented with also rotating my back knee (towards tail of the board for toeside, and towards front of the board for heelside). It seemed to help hold a better edge, but my question is if this really is proper form? Or does it not even really matter?

Any advice on this would help. thanks alot!
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Old 02-13-2012, 07:24 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Thanks for the response, Snowolf. I had some questions on the for/aft motion you refer too, in combination with unweighting during turns.

What i was trying to do was in the beginning of the heelside turn,my knees are pretty bent and my weight is 60% on my front foot, then as i go through the turn I would begin to "stand" up while bringing my weight more towards the back foot, then to complete the turn I would again shift my weight toward the front foot and get low again to "down unweight" and initiate my toeside turn. Is this process correct? Are their steps I am missing? Any help would be great. To give some background, I am a second year rider,and can do most tahoe blues and a few blacks with relatively decent carving IF it is groomed..but once it gets choppy or deeper snow,whatever skills I have go out the window...I know I need to also work on keeping my legs loose and knees bent, but think I could use much improvement on the fore/aft movement as well.

Originally Posted by Snowolf View Post
A lot depends on your stance. If you are riding in a fairly duck stance, there is not a lot of roll being used in the knees. It is more about angulation to flex and extend your knees and ankles to tilt your board on edge effectively while keeping your body stacked over the top of your board.

Any knee roll like this is considered a rotary movement and it uses as a complimentary movement to your board performance, not a primary. In a heelside carve, I will roll the front knee toward the knee a bit to "cowboy" out my stance just a bit. This movement adds a little rotary force to the front foot when initiating a heelside carve. When I am initiating a toeside carve, I roll the back knee back toward the tail to cowboy my stance again. This movement adds a bit of rotary force when initiating a toeside carve.

Now, when you start using more aggressive fore-aft movements, what will actually tend to happen is as you shift forward, the front knee rolls forward and the back knee will tend to roll forward and in as well. As you complete your turn and shift aft, the back knee will will roll toward the tail and the front knee will roll in and back as well.
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Old 02-14-2012, 01:31 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thank you so much for the detailed explanation, I really appreciate it. I had just a few more questions for you based on your feedback. When you say "As the board crosses the fall line perpendicular to it, rapidly drop the rest of the way to down unweight and make the instant edge change onto the new edge and repeat the process. Also remember to smoothly shift forward again.", I am mainly confused in the order of shifting my weight forward again, down unweighting, and making the edge change. If you could speak to me like im a 3rd grader and break down this sequence of steps, it would clear things up tremendously for me. I think I understand all the steps up until the point where I am slightly shifted aft with my back knee bent more then my front, but after that the exact next steps confuse me.
I am going up again this weekend and hope to work on just these steps for a big part of the day, so really appreciate it.

Originally Posted by Snowolf View Post
Generally, you have the right idea of the fore-aft movement as well as your fexion-extension. This will generally serve you well until you get into much steeper terrain or hard pack that might be a little bumpy where you can loose edge hold in the bottom of the turn.

As people extend through the turn and move aft, they will naturally get a stiff back leg and this will almost always cause a skid at the tail resulting in total edge hold loss. Here is a slight modification to the above movement to help you prevent edge blowout in the bottom of the turn.

Initiate your carve with a forward shift in your flexed position just after you did your quick down unweight and gradually extend through the turn up to the apex of the turn only. Do not continue to extend past apex however. As the board passes through the apex of your turn, begin to slowly flex down lower while you are also slowly shifting your weight aft. This movement will require you to begin to flex the back leg more than the front leg. As the board crosses the fall line perpendicular to it, rapidly drop the rest of the way to down unweight and make the instant edge change onto the new edge and repeat the process. Also remember to smoothly shift forward again.


As you are hauling ass in a good carve down the mountain, you have 3 basic forces at work on your board. Gravity pulling you down the slope, Inertia from your movement pulling you down the slope and Centrifugal force pulling you to the outside of the turn.

At the bottom of the turn at about roughly the 45 degree point, all three forces combine to try to really pull your board out of the turn and send it (and you) straight down the hill at about a 45 degree angle from the fall line. This is the point where your edge hold has the most load on it and can easily break loos starting with the tail.

This is the reason for the aft shift; to add more weight to help keep that edge locked into the snow. It is also why we do not want to use inclination (leaning to the inside of the turn) when dynamic carving at high speed and or on steep terrain. We need to keep our weight stacked vertically over the edge to push it straight down into the snow.

Because edge hold is generally very precarious at this point in the turn, any bumps or harder snow can tip the balance and start a skid. By slowly flexing, we "soften" the ride and have a much better ability to absorb chatter that can cause the edge hold loss. A flexed rear leg is much much better at absorbing this chatter than a stiff extended one.

In relation to this, we want to do the fore movement early and also make sure we "complete" our turns and make sure we allow the board to completely go perpendicular to the fall line for two reasons. One, it is the only way we can regulate speed without skidding and two, it allows us to really get our new edge set solidly early in the turn. If we are late doing this, we reach apex without 100% of our possible edge hold and this sets us up for a skid through the bottom of the turn.

Happy dynamic carving....
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Old 02-14-2012, 09:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Not to steal the thread but I think the first minute of this video of mine clearly shows my heel side sliding out from under me at exactly the point snowolf has highlighted in the above diagram.
I definately feel at my most vulnerable at that point on heel side turns on choppy groomed runs.

Snowboarding Rusutsu Japan 28/1/2012 - YouTube
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Old 02-15-2012, 11:00 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Snowolf, you freakin rock. Many thanks !
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Old 02-15-2012, 07:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks a ton, man I really appreciate it..Can't wait to head up to the mountain again this weekend and work on this.

Originally Posted by Snowolf View Post
No problem, lets take it from the top. At the top of your turn, you have just done your down unweight and have just set your new (downhill) edge. You are fully flexed and your weight is basically centered. Shift your weight fully forward in a quick movement and stay there until you are halfway to reaching the apex of the turn. Gradually begin to slowly extend and time it so you can be slowly extending all the way to the apex of the turn.

At the point you are halfway to the apex of the turn, begin to slowly shift your weight back. Time this movement so that as you reach the apex of your turn, your weight is again centered on your board. In addition, you should be at you maximum extension. Note that you are never wanting to be totally extended and stiff legged at any point. This is just as extended as you will be at any point in the turn; leave a little play in the knees to absorb chatter.

As you pass through the apex of the turn, begin to slowly flex down low and begin to shift your weight slowly aft. Time both movements so that you can be constantly flexing and shifting aft all through the bottom of your turn. Reach maximum flexion and full aft shift of your weight as you reach the critical point at the bottom of the turn. That is about halfway between the apex and the turn completion point.

As you pass through this critical halfway point between the apex of the turn and your turn completion point at the bottom of your turn, hold this flexed, aft position and ride the edge very lightly and be ready to absorb chatter and skid. If you feel skid or chatter, loosen up even more and flex that last little bit to keep the board quiet.

As you near the fall line, return your weight to center, extend slowly just enough to allow the rapid down unweight and then repeat this process for the next turn.

Here is a diagram that might help you visualize where all this is taking place. Keep in mind that this will take a little practice and right now it is a ton of shit to have to think about in a turn that takes just a few seconds. One thing that helps a ton is make really big large radius turns and slow down as much as you can and can still carve. This makes the turn take longer and gives you more time to think through the steps. With just a little time, you will not even need to think about any of this and will do these movements all automatically once you develop the muscle memory for them.
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