While the short fun carvers were smiled at for a long time, more and more skiers are discovering the fun of short skiing for themselves. The original “Big Foot” became the shortcarver, which is now even its own discipline in alpine skiing. The following explains what fun carvers are, what makes them so special and for which skiers short skis are suitable.
What are fun carvers?
Fun carvers are a maximum of one meter long and, unlike short blades, have both brackets and safety bindings. Their construction radius is a maximum of ten metres, in some cases up to 15 metres, which allows skiers to take particularly tight and fast turns.
From a mountain climbing assistant to its own discipline
Fun carvers were first developed in 1930 as firn gliders. They were mainly used for descent on soft spring snow (the so-called “firn”) and steep slopes. At that time, they were intended to make it easier for mountaineers to descend. Practical: They didn’t need much space and could be used with mountain boots.
However, the skiing behaviour is completely different from that of normal skis, because firn gliders are used in a strong supine position. The speed is controlled by forward and backward movements. If you put your weight forward, you accelerate – if you put it backwards or press your heels into the snow, you slow down your speed. With firn gliders you can even brake when driving straight ahead.
From these firn gliders two variants of short skis developed: First the firn gliders, also called Figl, with a maximum length of 66 centimetres, as well as the somewhat longer fun carvers.
In the 50s the short skis were produced in series and in the 60s there were the first ski races with the “shorties”.
There were only a few companies that produced these short carvers. Among the most famous are the model “Big Foot” by Kneissl and the “Snowblade” by Salomon. Thus, these brand names also became established as names for fun carvers.
Although the fun carvers were smiled at in the beginning, a discipline of their own has developed from them in the meantime. While the Figlis are no longer produced, the original fun carvers developed into the Shortcarver – a variant of alpine skiing recognised by the FIS.
Shortcarver competitions are held in various disciplines such as slalom, giant slalom or eventing competitions. These take place mainly in March and April. In Germany, the first International German Shortcarving Championship was organised on 20 March 2005. With the increasing popularity of the Shortcarver, the short skis have again appeared in the assortment of almost all manufacturers.
But what exactly makes riding the Shortcarver so special?
Short skis, great skiing fun
The extraordinary thing about Shortcarvers is their way of skiing: Due to their narrow construction in the middle, the short skis and their tight radius, the short carvers can take very tight turns of seven to twelve metres.
Skiers can lean very strongly into the bend and feel the centrifugal force particularly intensively. In contrast to carving skis, short carving ski sticks are used to make the curves very close to the body.
Shortcarvers are interestingly recommended for beginners as well as for very experienced skiers. Here, too, the diversity of short skis lies in their construction.
Adult beginners, in particular, have to bring themselves to use long skis in the beginning. Turning the classic skis is not easy and the fear of loss of control and a fall is high, so that some adults find it difficult even with basic techniques such as parallel turns or braking.
This is exactly where the Shortcarver can help in the beginning. Because the short skis can be turned easily, which of course also reduces the fear of falls and injuries. So skiers can concentrate on the technique and learn to ski faster. As soon as they are safely standing on the short carvers, they can then switch to the classic skis.
The short ski method for beginners was allegedly developed for the first time by ski instructor Martin Puchtler. One of his adult students repeated the beginner course for the third time without any success. As the last desperate attempt, he had the student try out a rusty old ski that was 40 cm shorter. One day later, the student had understood how to ski and stood safely on his skis.
So there are still ski schools today that teach some students how to ski on short skis for exactly these reasons. As soon as there are steeper descents after the learning phase, however, the short carvers are no longer recommended for beginners.
Because on steep hills where you develop a high speed, short carvers are not suitable for beginners. Driving tight curves requires the highest concentration, good coordination and balance. As a skier, you must have sufficient experience, be able to corner and control your skis very well so that you don’t fall behind with the short carvers. This is too risky for beginners.
That is why it is advisable for more experienced skiers to descend with a Shortcarver. This is when the tight curves with the short skis bring the greatest skiing fun.
The most important questions about fun carvers
What are fun carvers?
Fun carver is a term for a strongly waisted, short ski with a maximum length of one metre. They were developed in 1930 as firn gliders for mountaineers, which later led to the establishment of two short skis: the Figl and the fun carver. One of the most famous models is “Big Foot” by Kneissl. Meanwhile the fun carver has been replaced by the Shortcarver.
What is the difference between shortcarvers and carvers?
Shortcarvers are shorter than carvers and offer a smaller radius for curves.
What makes shortcarvers so popular?
The tight radius of the Shortcarver ensures that you drive very tight corners and feel the centrifugal force particularly intensively. This is a great feeling for experienced skiers.
Which skiers are short carvers suitable for?
On the one hand, they are suitable for offering beginners more stability when turning, so that they can get used to the technique before switching to longer skis. But for downhill skiing, short carvers are more for experienced skiers who can control the skis well, are very fit and can keep a good balance. The danger of falling at high speeds and tight corners is correspondingly higher.