Carving off a jump is one of the best feelings you can have skiing in the park. Learn it once and you'll never stop doing it. I don't think I've hit a jump flat-based in about three years.
For the uninitiated, "carving" means riding the edges of your skis so that the sidecut is making the turn for you. This is the much cooler alternative to pressing downhill with your tails, scuffing a bit of snow, and "manually" making a turn. Carving is awesome (see, racers know something after all), and as far as I know, didn't really exist on skis until ski manufacturers figured out how to make a parabolic sidecut, i.e. fatter tips and tails and narrower in the middle of the ski.
So much for the theory, let's take it to practice.
Step 1: Go find a nice green or blue run at your hill (not too steep). Take that run and carve all the way down it - no scuff turns the whole way! You want to keep your skis constantly on edge and find the right moment to switch seamlessly from one edge to the other. When you look back up the hill you should see a perfect double-S track the whole way down - no scuffed out spots from skidding a turn.
Step 2: Go find your favorite jump in the park, and drop in a bit higher than you normally do. But instead of skidding a bit to control your speed, try carving instead. Two big carves coming into a jump mean about the same thing as one skidding speed check (and it looks better too).
Step 3: If you're carving coming into the jump, you can just keep carving right off the lip. Here's what I do. I spin to the right, so I usually carve to the right coming off the lip (you can also carve opposite to your spin, but I won't get into that here). When I'm about 50 ft from the jump, I try to be as far RIGHT on the inrun as possible. That sets me up to carve a huge "C", to the left and then to the right again as I come off the lip. I'm usually within a foot of the left side of the jump as I enter the transition, so that when I carve right again coming off the lip, I'm still going to hit the landing and not fly somewhere off the landing to the right.
A few other important points:
- When you carve hard, you're going to travel sideways a lot, so you have to make sure you're still going to hit the landing! This is why if you're carving left, you should carve from the far right side of the jump, and vice versa. A buddy of mine carved too hard on a dope cork 5 last summer at Timberline and went switch straight into the rocks.
- When you carve off a jump, you have to have more speed than usual. This is because you're not traveling straight across to the landing, but rather on a diagonal, which means a longer distance to the landing. This leads to the next two points:
- Yes, you have to go faster when you carve a jump, but you can also control your speed with the carve. If you notice you're going too fast, you can carve harder, transferring more of your motion to the side and not straight down the hill, so you still hit landing.
- Yes, you travel on a diagonal to the landing, which is actually one of my favorite parts about carving. Since you're traveling diagonally across the jump, you actually have MORE landing than just jumping straight. Simple geometric principle which means that once you get carving down, you'll be spending a lot more time in the sweet spot and lot less time knuckling or overshooting.
In this video at 1:07 you can see a carve right 360 into a carve left 360. And at 3:02, if you want to get into the technical shit, you can see a switch opposite carve.
Sorry for the carving diatribe. I'm just a huge fan and want to share the love with the world.