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Ski Pole Length

post #1 of 62
Thread Starter 

Having skied for over 40+ years one gets used to certain lengths of ski poles (mine happen to be 135cm since the beginning of time wink.gif)

 

Now to make this easier lets look at one individual only.

 

Skier is 6'0" about 165lbs, advanced male or female.  Going by the charts the poles length should be 125cm

 

What is the advantage/disadvantage to go longer say 5-10cm?

 

What is the advantage/disadvantage to go shorter say 5-10cm?

 

The reason is I fall into this category, and feel that this is too short.  I am looking for the understanding for the reasoning behind the shorter length if there is one.  BTW  If I don't like the answer I shouldn't asked the question th_dunno-1[1].gif

 

Thank you for the responses in advance as I'm sure that some others are likely intersted.

 

post #2 of 62

More important is to make sure your poles are properly calibrated. This can only be done by a someone with extensive Specialized Pole Egonomics and Dynamics (SPED) schooling. There's no end to the SPED students on Epic, so you should be able to get at least 4-5 pages of discussion out of this topic.

 

I'm 5'10" (OK, 5'9.5" after recent back and hip problems) and have 125cm poles. Back in the 80's when I skied bumps a lot I had 48" poles. YMMV.

post #3 of 62

Longer = more efficient push (eg, starting off a race or just skating faster), but some risk of having the pole push you into the back seat if you use forward pole touches.

Shorter = better for skiing in bumps where the bumps can be higher relative to your skis.

post #4 of 62

In Ken's head -

 

What is the advantage/disadvantage to go longer say 5-10cm?  Longer only has an advantage at the start of a race course and I'm not sure it is really worth it.  I've also heard that "old school skiing" required longer poles and I believe it was due to the longer skis and turn radius.  Puts you in the back seat, makes you swing more outward than down the fall line.

 

What is the advantage/disadvantage to go shorter say 5-10cm?  You can get more forward, it's much appreciated in the bumps, the swing isn't forced.   You'll miss the chuckles during training when one of the female trainers will tell you your poles too long  biggrin.gif

 

 

I've been debating starting a thread on this subject recently.  Partially because I was concerned about it being in the troll category and I figure summer time usually weeds out the riff raff so I would get straighter answers.  So -

 

I've been skiing with the same poles for about 4 years now; three of those instructing and racing.  I do have gs poles for beer league but I usually use my everyday poles for weekend nastar.  I'm 5'7" and about 170#.  During a dryland clinic on a particular nasty day, it was pointed out to me that my poles were way to big.  I took that and asked other instructors/mentors on the subject and each and everyone said the same.  Way too long.  They also told me that it would cause me to be in the back seat which is something I don gravitate to.

 

So I started experimenting.  Took some old poles and cut them down two full inches.  I kind of like it but all in all, the difference was subtle.  I cut them down another inch.  Wow!  That with some coaching on my swing (which had a tendency to go wide because they were so long) and it felt way more aggressive and downhill.  I ended up ordering adjustable poles and though they came in after ski season ended, I'm planning on skiing them an inch shorter, which is even shorter than what the charts say - 46".  Yup; my 5'7" self was using 50" poles.

 

That of course brought me in pursuit of determining the right pole length.  Yes I'm well aware of the standard of holding your lower arm parallel to the ground and gripping under the basket with the grip end on the ground.  That way of course come with debates on; in ski boots or street shoes, account for the bindings and race plate, what if you have a "system" ski, yadda yadda yadda.

 

I wanted to figure out a way that takes the guess work out and that means math, or something that doesn't have a variable (boots and bend in the arm).  So far I've come up with two ideas - 1) In stocking feet (or at least flat street shoes), the pole should come up to the bottom of your sternum or 2) I'm still working on something using the Golden Ratio.  In number 1, use the entire length of the pole.  In # 2 I'm thinking it's "blank" times 1.618.

 

Anyway, it will be a nice summer project.

 

Ken

post #5 of 62

I skied once this year with a 50" pole and a 48" one at the same time.  I didn't even notice that I had taken one of the wrong poles from the car until I had skied several runs, and then I only noticed it because I saw that I had two different kind of poles while riding the chair.  I never once noticed that it made any difference at all in my skiing so I skied the rest of the day that way.  I use a pretty light touch most of the time and don't put weight on my plants unless I screw up.  I decided that pole length doesn't make much difference except in fairly gross size differences, at least for me.

post #6 of 62

I used to have messed-up shoulders like that^    It took 10K+/week at the pool to fix 'em.

 

 

 

 

wink.gif

post #7 of 62
Thread Starter 

Not what I was expecting, but very interesting.  Definitely gives food for thought.  L&AirC well put....going to have to think about this some before I attempt to stick my foot/feet in my mouth with a reply.

 

biggrin.gificon14.gif

post #8 of 62

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune View Post

I skied once this year with a 50" pole and a 48" one at the same time.  I didn't even notice that I had taken one of the wrong poles from the car until I had skied several runs, and then I only noticed it because I saw that I had two different kind of poles while riding the chair.  I never once noticed that it made any difference at all in my skiing so I skied the rest of the day that way.  I use a pretty light touch most of the time and don't put weight on my plants unless I screw up.  I decided that pole length doesn't make much difference except in fairly gross size differences, at least for me.

 

I don't think it has to do so much wit the "plant" as much as it does with the direction of travel your arm/hand/pole are on.  At least that was my experience.

 

post #9 of 62

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post

 

 

I don't think it has to do so much wit the "plant" as much as it does with the direction of travel your arm/hand/pole are on.  At least that was my experience.

 

 


Have you considered the advantage of having long poles on truly steep terrain, especially if not very angulated?

post #10 of 62
I'm 6' 1" and I use 48" (122 cm) poles most of the time. That's pretty short compared with what many skiers my height tend to use, and at least a couple inches shorter than most "rule of thumb" measuring methods (eg. fore-arms level with poles upside-down in front, held just beneath the baskets). But I have experimented a great deal, and for me, for all-around use, nothing works better. After years of using 50" poles (127 cm), I switched to the shorter poles a few seasons back, and have never regretted it (although I have experimented with longer poles occasionally, just to make sure). I think that most ski shops and rental shops provide their customers with poles that are too long--often much too long.

As others have said, longer poles would be preferable for racing starts, and anywhere else where they're used primarily for propulsion. And bump-specific poles might still be a couple inches shorter again. But the 48" poles work adequately everywhere (for me).

You need not fret too much, though. Some poles are adjustable, from the Goode carbon poles with grips that screw up and down over a 3" range, to various designs that can telescope over a very long range. (Beware, though--I've use some of those that did not hold their adjustment very well.) If you use traditional aluminum straight poles, they are easy to cut shorter with an inexpensive plumber's tubing cutter, so you can get a long pair and cut them down a half inch or so at a time until you find what you like. Ski them for a day or two at a length before cutting them. If you have any doubts, ski with an instructor with a good eye who can easily assess how the poles are working for you (among other things). Or have someone shoot some video of you skiing a variety of terrain, turn sizes, and speeds, and post it here at EpicSki for some "free Internet advice" (for whatever it's worth).

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #11 of 62
I dunno, I have cut mine down twice and they are still too short....smile.gif
post #12 of 62

Pros of longer poles:

 

Better balance on GS carved turns (think of a tight rope walker)

Better balance on steep terrain

Better poling on flats

 

Cons:

 

Higher swing weight

Can get in the way if you're not careful

 

Overall, most people use poles that are too short for them.  Don't believe me?  Just check out the park skiers and their tiny poles

post #13 of 62

There's about 6 or 7 cm between the tips of my poles and the baskets. I change the length about that much between firm and powder skiing, since only the tip goes into the snow when it's firm, but the pole goes in at least up to the basket in powder. I do lengthen them some for steeps, since a solid pole plant is used, while for groomers the tip might just brush the snow. I don't fiddle with them all day--just set them and leave them that way for the day. Height alone is not a good indicator of pole length since arm length varies-I have an ape index of plus 6 inches, which is huge (most people are slightly negative).   It's really nice to lengthen a lot for uphill skates of any length. And those BD poles are bomber--I've proven that by running over them in the parking lot twice (once backing out and then pulling forward again).--

post #14 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by JB Smoovee View Post

Overall, most people use poles that are too short for them.  Don't believe me?  Just check out the park skiers and their tiny poles

Are you suggesting that park skiers are "most people," or somehow representative of "most people," JB? A bit of a flaw in that logic, isn't there, at least at most ski resorts? The fact is that, for whatever purposes they need they their poles in the park, those tiny poles (you're right about that) are presumably just right, and longer poles would get in the way. I recognize that you're just expressing your opinion, but to conclude from watching park rats that "most people [at most ski areas] use poles that are too short from them" flies in the face of reality.

Best regards,
Bob
post #15 of 62

I'm 190cm (6'4") and have messed around with poles between 115cm and 135cm.  The 115cm was a short, unsuccessful afternoon with a broken set of composite poles after someone swiped/swapped my set over lunch.  I can definitely say that one floppy 115cm (46 inch) pole and one normal 115cm pole isn't so good for a 6'4" guy - park rats notwithstanding.  

 

To replace the stolen set I bought a set of 135cm poles and found they were too long.  No matter how I wielded them they would jar upward noticeably as I planted on hard snow.  Eventually I cut them down to 128cm (or so) and they're spot on.  I have a set at 125cm and another at 130cm and find I can happily ski with anything in this range.    

post #16 of 62

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cantunamunch View Post

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post

 

 

I don't think it has to do so much wit the "plant" as much as it does with the direction of travel your arm/hand/pole are on.  At least that was my experience.

 

 


Have you considered the advantage of having long poles on truly steep terrain, especially if not very angulated?

 

 

No because I haven't come up with an advantage of skiing truly deep terrain. biggrin.gif

post #17 of 62
Thread Starter 

Let me first say that I'm 6'0" and have been skiing with 135cm since my early teens.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cantunamunch View Post

Have you considered the advantage of having long poles on truly steep terrain, especially if not very angulated?

 

That is one of my concerns and have experienced it when I once borrowed shorter poles.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post

I'm 6' 1" and I use 48" (122 cm) poles most of the time. That's pretty short compared with what many skiers my height tend to use, and at least a couple inches shorter than most "rule of thumb" measuring methods (eg. fore-arms level with poles upside-down in front, held just beneath the baskets). But I have experimented a great deal, and for me, for all-around use, nothing works better. After years of using 50" poles (127 cm), I switched to the shorter poles a few seasons back, and have never regretted it (although I have experimented with longer poles occasionally, just to make sure). I think that most ski shops and rental shops provide their customers with poles that are too long--often much too long.
As others have said, longer poles would be preferable for racing starts, and anywhere else where they're used primarily for propulsion. And bump-specific poles might still be a couple inches shorter again. But the 48" poles work adequately everywhere (for me).
You need not fret too much, though. Some poles are adjustable, from the Goode carbon poles with grips that screw up and down over a 3" range, to various designs that can telescope over a very long range. (Beware, though--I've use some of those that did not hold their adjustment very well.) If you use traditional aluminum straight poles, they are easy to cut shorter with an inexpensive plumber's tubing cutter, so you can get a long pair and cut them down a half inch or so at a time until you find what you like. Ski them for a day or two at a length before cutting them. If you have any doubts, ski with an instructor with a good eye who can easily assess how the poles are working for you (among other things). Or have someone shoot some video of you skiing a variety of terrain, turn sizes, and speeds, and post it here at EpicSki for some "free Internet advice" (for whatever it's worth).
Best regards,
Bob Barnes

 

Bob I have a lot of respect for your comments, can it just be that if it works is it worth changing and there might not be a correct length?

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JB Smoovee View Post

Pros of longer poles:

 

Better balance on GS carved turns (think of a tight rope walker)

Better balance on steep terrain

Better poling on flats

 

Cons:

 

Higher swing weight

Can get in the way if you're not careful

 

Overall, most people use poles that are too short for them.  Don't believe me?  Just check out the park skiers and their tiny poles

 

Interesting, I somewhat agree on the short poles, as I see a lot of skiers not poling well and they are using shorter poles, get into steeps and the problem seems to get worse. 

 

I've been trying to remember when shorter poles started to come into fashion, I don't remember if there was a justification at that time.

 

PARK SKIERS well no comment on that issue rolleyes.gif.

post #18 of 62
Quote:
can it just be that if it works is it worth changing and there might not be a correct length?

Yes, OldSchoolSkier--as with skis, there is plenty of room for personal preference, and because different lengths are better suited to different tasks and conditions, any length represents a compromise as an all-around pole.

One thing is certain, though: changing your pole length can change your movements. So it is worth experimenting with different lengths to learn what effects they cause. Longer poles will tend to make anyone ski taller, more upright, which may be fine for relaxed cruising but detrimental to all-out high-performance skiing in a variety of conditions. It depends on body proportion, condition, intended use, technique and timing, and personal preference.

But as I wrote earlier, way more often than not, I find that most skiers tend to have poles that are too long, such that they interfere with their ability to do many things, particularly things like bumps. The long poles often work--or at least, not interfere--for the typical "up and around" turn initiations that are the habit of so many skiers, but start to interfere when they focus on the release-and-guide transitions of contemporary offensive gliding turns.

Best regards,
Bob
post #19 of 62
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post

Quote:
can it just be that if it works is it worth changing and there might not be a correct length?
Yes, OldSchoolSkier--as with skis, there is plenty of room for personal preference, and because different lengths are better suited to different tasks and conditions, any length represents a compromise as an all-around pole.
One thing is certain, though: changing your pole length can change your movements. So it is worth experimenting with different lengths to learn what effects they cause. Longer poles will tend to make anyone ski taller, more upright, which may be fine for relaxed cruising but detrimental to all-out high-performance skiing in a variety of conditions. It depends on body proportion, condition, intended use, technique and timing, and personal preference.
But as I wrote earlier, way more often than not, I find that most skiers tend to have poles that are too long, such that they interfere with their ability to do many things, particularly things like bumps. The long poles often work--or at least, not interfere--for the typical "up and around" turn initiations that are the habit of so many skiers, but start to interfere when they focus on the release-and-guide transitions of contemporary offensive gliding turns.
Best regards,
Bob

 

 

 

Thanks Bob,  Will have to try it next season and see what happens.  If I remember I'll send you a note as to the result.

post #20 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post

Quote:
can it just be that if it works is it worth changing and there might not be a correct length?
Yes, OldSchoolSkier--as with skis, there is plenty of room for personal preference, and because different lengths are better suited to different tasks and conditions, any length represents a compromise as an all-around pole.
One thing is certain, though: changing your pole length can change your movements. So it is worth experimenting with different lengths to learn what effects they cause. Longer poles will tend to make anyone ski taller, more upright, which may be fine for relaxed cruising but detrimental to all-out high-performance skiing in a variety of conditions. It depends on body proportion, condition, intended use, technique and timing, and personal preference.
But as I wrote earlier, way more often than not, I find that most skiers tend to have poles that are too long, such that they interfere with their ability to do many things, particularly things like bumps. The long poles often work--or at least, not interfere--for the typical "up and around" turn initiations that are the habit of so many skiers, but start to interfere when they focus on the release-and-guide transitions of contemporary offensive gliding turns.
Best regards,
Bob

 

I'm with you on the shorter length Bob. And I definitely don't buy the comment that longer poles give you more stability in a GS turn   - if you are relying on it for balance in a course there are more serious issues!   At 5'8" my Slalom poles are ~ 115 (they have been altered a couple of times), GS are 117 and 120 and super G/DH 125.  Interestingly one of my GS pairs came from Darren Rahlves and they are at ~117. Also on the Swix composite race poles the tip below the basket is probably 3/4" -1" shorter than most poles.    A coach at Mammoth at the weekend did comment that my slalom poles seemed too short but that was based on him picking them up rather than anything he had observed in the course.  I did try a slightly longer pole the following day as an experiment but didn't notice any difference.  Always willing to experiment though.  Here with 115 slalom poles....

 

 

Mammoth Slalom (2).jpg

post #21 of 62
Thread Starter 

Thanks Scott,  This give me a few numbers to work with.  Your ratio for GS is about 0.6911 Pole/HT ratio, based on 6' with a 135 pole mine is about 0.7361 converted to yours my pole ht should be about 125.  Definitely give food for thought.  The hard part is I've skied with 135 for at least 35 years and for the last 30 the same poles.  This is definitely going to be interesting to try next year.

post #22 of 62

Personal experience, both teaching and going through lots of cheap used gear has lead me to the conclusion that having poles a little too short isn't as much of a problem as having poles a little too long.  Poles that are too long (even less than 2" too long) can knock a person a little aft/backseat.  Poles that are a little too short might get someone a bit forward but that is usually better than a little too far backseat.  In fact, lots of mogul dudes and chicks use shorter poles in the bumps, both because they are better for planting on the bumps while skiing in the ruts/zipperline, and because you really don't want to get backseat in the bumps.

 

As for the "steeper terrain requires longer poles" argument... I hear that a lot, however for me steeper terrain requires a more forward and attacking position and approach.  Longer poles are less likely to put me there than reaching forward and down aggressively with average ones.

post #23 of 62
Thread Starter 

Here is a site that seems to indicate longer (BTW I will try short pole this coming season).

 

http://www.the-raceplace.com/How-to-Size-Ski-Poles-s/816.htm

 

Scotskier, in looking at the photo I did notice that the skier is slightly in the wrong position with the uphill hand slightly to far back,  This hand should be further forward which would cause a more open position of the upper body and would therefore bring the hips slightly uphill and forward causing more pressure into the turn.  Basically he is sitting back and up slightly, and the CG slightly to high and back.  I trust that I am seeing this correctly?

 

Raich+-+GS+left+turn.jpg

 

For comparision, I believe is a lot better (aside from being more agressive) ?

 

 

Nastar_94.jpg

 

(Not for comparison wink.gif) NASTAR in '94, placed 3rd beaten only by the Instructor (Level 4 ex Canadian Team Member and a vacationing instructor),  Equipment 205 BLizzard Thermo RS, Marker M48R, Rossi Course E, 135cm KERMA Racing Poles (still skiing with those).  This was day 3 or 4 of may ski season in mid Feb,  Got a couple more days in that year.  In the photo I was just starting set up for the the next turn.  I've managed to get better since considering the lack of hill time.

 

I guess you can see why I'm asking about poles lengths.

post #24 of 62

On a really flat course where an explosive start can make a difference choosing a longer pole is probably prudentwink.gif

post #25 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post

On a really flat course where an explosive start can make a difference choosing a longer pole is probably prudentwink.gif

 Yes, in a Nastar/beer league course that can make a lot of sense

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by oldschoolskier View Post

Here is a site that seems to indicate longer (BTW I will try short pole this coming season).

 

http://www.the-raceplace.com/How-to-Size-Ski-Poles-s/816.htm

 

yup and also from the same link

 

"This is a good starting point, but personal preference may dictate a slightly shorter pole in modern day slalom where racers attack in a little lower body position and the pole plant becomes awkward if the pole is too long".

 

Scotskier, in looking at the photo I did notice that the skier is slightly in the wrong position with the uphill hand slightly to far back,  This hand should be further forward which would cause a more open position of the upper body and would therefore bring the hips slightly uphill and forward causing more pressure into the turn.  Basically he is sitting back and up slightly, and the CG slightly to high and back.  I trust that I am seeing this correctly?

 

 

Umm, I assume in that case you also noticed that the photo was slalom rather than GS as per your comparison photo???  smile.gif    Yup, lots of things that could be improved upon - OTOH  it was good enough  to win the class that day wink.gif

 

 

 

Raich+-+GS+left+turn.jpg

 

For comparision, I believe is a lot better (aside from being more agressive) ?

 

 

 

popcorn.gif

Yup, definitely a lot better, but not  slalom.   But thanks, not every day you compare an old  Masters racer with what looks like Benni Raich!    yahoo.gif

 

post #26 of 62

Oldschoolskier, problem with too short poles is it forces you to reach down to make pole plant (particularly in bumps) which has a tendancy to force you into the back seat.  I am 6' and a great ski instructor moved me into 135 mm poles. 

post #27 of 62
Thread Starter 

ScotsSkier,

 

If thats you, hopefully, I can stay that good when I reach your age.  icon14.gif

post #28 of 62

oldschoolskier

 

I have to chuckle- quit skiing in 72- got back into it few years ago when family said "meeting in South Lake Tahoe January"

 

many years since I'd stepped into boots-

 

skiies- didn't matter- let me step into them- poles-

 

never have liked a pole that my hand didn't grip where my arms were bent at the elbows and the forearm straight/level with the ground- on a flat

 

guess that means I like them short-

 

but then- I'm not real big- so short to you might be long to mejk.gif

post #29 of 62

After "accidentally" skiing a day with my wife's 48" poles, I have to say I'm now in the shorter pole camp. I'm 6'0" btw.

 

Wife was not too happy being stuck with my 50's at 5'7"

post #30 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by MWshredder View Post

Oldschoolskier, problem with too short poles is it forces you to reach down to make pole plant (particularly in bumps) which has a tendancy to force you into the back seat.  I am 6' and a great ski instructor moved me into 135 mm poles. 

 

Why not just plant on top of the bumps?

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