How to carve turns on steeper slopes
How to carve turns on steeper slopes

How to carve turns on steeper slopes

The path to achieving confidence and style on steeper slopes

In this article I will show you how to control your speed and feel confidence when you carve turns on steeper runs. If you feel like you get out of control and pickup too much speed you are not alone. Studying and applying the three things presented in this guide will help you fix this problem. I used to feel frustrated and intimidated too as the same tactics I used on the easy runs did not work on the steeper runs. However with experience and time, I figured out there are several key things a skier needs to learn in order to overcome this problem.

What you will learn on this journey will change your experience of steeper slopes and give you the confidence to ski with style. In order to make this change I will teach about turn shape, blending your steering into carving and being more active with your cross over.

What you will learn

Functional Turn Shape
Control speed early
Commit to the next turn
Functional Turn Shape

Being aware of how you shape your turns and how much you finish them is the first step to speed control.

Control speed early

Use the surf turn to help brush speed in the top of the turn. 

Commit to the next turn

An active crossover helps you commit to the top of the turn and balance with the steeper slope.

Functional Turn Shape

First you must understand the type of turn shape you are trying to create. This starts in the bottom half with a simple idea. You can’t pickup speed if you are travelling across a slope. As simple as this sounds I find so many skiers do not finish their turns enough to control their speed. Finishing your turns ties into your turn shape having a more rounded end phase. Functional turn shape is what Big Picture Skiing coach Demelza Clay calls it. She is referring to the shape of the turn being adapted to the pitch of the slope. Not only this but also the finishing of one turn helping to initiate the next turn. We will explore this idea further but first let’s hear from Damon, a student of the BPS online academy on his experience of working on functional turn shape. 

“Turn shape! I go to bed at night thinking of turn shape, and wake up in the morning thinking of turn shape! Seriously, I don’t think that I could ever have gotten to where I wanted my skiing to be, without getting that right.”

Feedback from Tom on Damon’s turn shape

Play the video to find out what Tom said to Damon to improve his turn shape.

Why turn shape helps you feel in control

Converting momentum like riding a half pipe. I want you to imagine skiing a halfpipe. Picture big smooth walls of snow either side of you 3 metres high. Your aim is to ride up and down these curved banks. In order to ski up the wall of the halfpipe you will need some speed and enough grip so you can carve up it. If you don’t create enough grip you will end up skidding down the middle of the halfpipe and never experience the thrill of the up and down ride. The best halfpipe riders convert downhill speed into across hill speed. I want you to take this same idea and realise the turn shape you are looking for is very similar to riding a halfpipe. If you focus on converting your momentum from going downhill to across the slope you’ll naturally try to create more grip at the end of your turns and also slow your self down. If instead you are just looking to slow down through skidding your skis, yes you will control your speed, but the next turn won’t flow.

End of turn goal

We want to focus on converting downhill speed into across the hill speed. We need to look for grip under our skis and continue to hold pressure until we feel we are getting “pushed across the slope”.

The steeper the slope the more I focus on finishing my turn, almost to the point of my ski tips pointing slightly back up hill. Just like skiing a halfpipe! There is this fantastic feeling of control when you can convert downhill momentum to across the hill momentum.


If you can find a run that has a bowl or halfpipe shape to it you will feel the effects of finishing your turns even more. The terrain is helping amplify the feelings of turn shape on speed control. 


Uphill J Turn

How to measure your success:

  • You kept the skis gripping and leaving clean railed tracks in the snow

  • You carried speed back uphill on an arc

Watch the Hand Drag Lesson To Learn More

The virtual bump

The virtual bump is a helpful way of seeing how turn shape helps your speed control. Watch the video to see how a steeper slope is relatively less steep depending on the part of the turn you are in. 

Watch the full length Virtual Bump Video

What is the takeaway on turn shape?

The main things to focus on are finishing your turns and with plenty of edge grip. We are learning to “convert speed” to “control speed”. Practice finishing turns more than you think is necessary. How much is that? Try and make single turns where you turn uphill.

Next we look at controlling speed in the top half of the turn through surfing or brushing our skis out to the side.

Convert speed to control speed by cleanly carving the end of your turns across the slope. 

Surf the top of the turn

The top half of a turn is where you pick up speed. This is why we are going to use a drifted initiation instead of a rolling initiation to begin our turns.  Yes that’s right we are not going to carve the top part of our turns, instead we will choose to carve at the moment we feel comfortable. A method that works really well for drifting is called the surf turn.