In a clinic last season the group was asked to ski using a double pole plant. Only a couple out of the group of 10+ were able to do this with any degree of grace. For most of the group their skiing deteriorated to a remarkable degree when they tried to touch both poles to the snow. This prompted me to ask every instructor I skied with for the rest to the season to demo a double pole plant. Here are a few of my observations.
- for the best of the best (ex-WC level racers, national demo team level skiers from several nations, etc) this was as easy and looked as natural as a normal pole swing/touch
- DECL level showed a bit of variation, all could do it at will but in some it looked forced and awkward others much smoother and natural.
- level 3 certs showed a huge range of variation from easy and natural to awkward looking and a few who just couldn't do it without a noticeable change in the quality of their turns.
- level 2 and lower had a huge problem with this, only those who had a serious competitive background before coming to instruction could perform the task well, some just flat out couldn't do it.
- it became very easy for me to predict how well a skier would perform this task by observing their pole/hand usage in their freeskiing
So my conclusion. If you want to know if you are doing good things with your hands try skiing using a double pole plant. If it is easy to add in, doesn't interfere with the flow of your skiing and feels almost as natural as a standard pole swing/touch your hands are well disciplined and doing what they need to to enhance your skiing. The more awkward it feels/looks the more you need to pay attention to how you use your hands when you ski.