A while back, Crofrog asked about poles. He was at the stage where they were more of a nuisance than a help when going down a slope. If you are new to skiing, you have probably noticed that kids often learn to ski without poles. So why not adults? The answer is the last sentence of the last quote.
When I started taking lessons as a returning intermediate a few years ago, the change that made the most difference was learning to use a pole to initiate a turn on steeper terrain. Soon after I learned how why trekking poles of different lengths are handy on a traverse that leads to more adventurous territory. Always more to learn.
The pole touch serves both as a timing device for linked turns and as a third point of contact with the snow for comfort and balance. The reach toward downhill for the pole touch can help draw the body into the turn ahead of the feet at turn initiation, a move that's necessary to make initiation more efficient and to stay on top of the feet as they accelerate during the downhill portions of the turn.
Crofrog, I can only tell you advice based on my experiances as I am not a professional. But in my opinion, the day I learned to use my poles, was the day i progressed in skiing significantly. It dosent happen overnight, but once you feel it, you inderstand how it all comes together.
All this may sound a little confusing right now, basically you dont need your poles right now untill your better. Watch videos, get lessons, watch for great skiers on your hill (not park kids, just people making nice even turns with rhythm). If your serious about skiing you will spend alot of hours doing research, on epic and elsewhere. Listen to the instructors on here, they know what they are talking about and have helped me a great deal in the short time ive been on epic.
Sorry, depending on the terrain it is not always a light touch. Infact, I use them so hard that I have stayed with my allsop shock absorbers (prevents sprained wrist.). This may sound extreme but on steep moguls you will have to use good, solid and well timed pole plants, sometimes like you are fencing with the bumps..
Back to the basic questions. The best time to learn what to do with your poles is 5 minutes after you stop snow plowing. Proper use of poles in the early stage may be only planting them lightly and occasionally, but it is all about proper stance with your hands out in front for both balance and using them perpendicular to the downhill slope to keep your shoulders pointing downhill. I know this is no longer an absolute with todays shaped skis and if you only stick to the groomers. But if you have any desire to Ski moguls, trees and deep powder, the balance, timing and forward stance that poles bring about can't be underestimated.
Best advice, never ditch the poles and always do some practicing to work them into the timing of your turns.
The best thing I heard in this forum was that you can't run well with your hands in your pocket, Poles are definitely the same thing. As the terrain gets harder you will need them.