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ski poles use them or not

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Hello,

Question i have my son and I do not use poles, mainly because I (dad) never really saw the use for them. 

 we ski (Pa) everything is man made and always icy so we don't need them to really push our self's around.

Now we are headed to Stratton Vt. for 3 days of skiing and was wondering if we might need poles for that kind of skiing.

post #2 of 21

Poles aid lateral and rotational stability...and also, but to a lesser extent, aid fore/aft balance and timing.  Can you ski without them?  Of course...you have proven that.  Can you ski well without them?  Well no one in history has ever won any meaningful ski race, or appeared in any notable ski movie or ski mag without them....so....something to consider.....can you achieve mediocrity at Stratton without poles?  Yes.  Can you open up a  whole new level of skiing enjoyment without poles?  No....unless of course you are in fact one of the most innovative and talented skiers in history.

post #3 of 21

Have you seen these threads about using poles . . . or not?

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/115650/poles-when-do-they-stop-getting-in-the-way

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/116793/pole-less-skiers

 

What type of trails do you ski in PA?  Have you skied in VT before?

post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 

for the most part when it comes to skiing for me, I am self tough,, I've been skiing for about 4 yrs but only get out a few times each year and yes still going the green, I've taken a few lessons to get better. Goal this year is to be on blue (to keep up with my son)

 

As far as my son, he will be skiing blue this year if all goes well. He takes lessons about once a month to build on what he has done already, but they  (instructors) still haven't put him in poles either.

 

When i do try to use them i just let them drag behind me, (my true fear is when i fall i will get hurt by them some way/ some how) 

post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

Have you seen these threads about using poles . . . or not?

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/115650/poles-when-do-they-stop-getting-in-the-way

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/116793/pole-less-skiers

 

What type of trails do you ski in PA?  Have you skied in VT before?

first time to Vt.

I do all green with the hopes of doing blue this year

post #6 of 21

Its common for ski schools to not give small kids poles as they tend to use them as weapons to hit other kids, they drop them off of chairs etc.  When they get to a certain level of proficiency or age, they get poles. 

 

As for you, as a start, use your poles like "feelers", hold them with a firm but comfortable grip, and try to drag each pole tip in the snow as you ski.  It will stablisie your upper body immensly and make those blues seem easy.

post #7 of 21

Please read this thread.  It's in the Beginner Zone, so should be helpful to you.

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/115650/poles-when-do-they-stop-getting-in-the-way

 

I would say your son will be fine without poles until his instructor thinks he's ready.  It's different for adults.  I just took a friend to Massanutten for her first ski day.  Her kids too.  They are under age 8 so no poles.  She took the beginner lesson package and was taught with poles.  Not for making turns, but useful in other ways.

post #8 of 21

I didn't use poles when I was just starting to learn (the first few times.)  Once I had the very basics figured out, I added poles and it was good for me.  I'm still working on improving my pole technique.

I never put my hands through the loops and so they won't hurt me. 

Learn to put them under your legs when you ride the lift.
 

post #9 of 21
Quote:
Well no one in history has ever won any meaningful ski race, or appeared in any notable ski movie or ski mag without them....so....something to consider... can you achieve mediocrity at Stratton without poles?  Yes.  Can you open up a  whole new level of skiing enjoyment without poles?  No...

 

Racers need them to push off at the start, and in SL to cross-block gates.  If you watch SG/DH races they rarely make anything resembling full pole swings/plants once they're up to speed.

 

People may think you look funny without them, or that you're a beginner.  But you never really *need* them.  You can ski just fine without them -- far better than "mediocrity", for sure, and they're certainly not necessary to enjoy a great day of skiing.

 

They're helpful in bumpy terrain because you can make blocking plants for recovery or to help make a sharp turn off a mogul.  If you're skiing around the moguls, planting on the tops usually helps your balance by giving you additional contact points with the snow.

 

Most people find them useful as a timing aid when making linked turns.  They're useful for climbing uphill, or maneuvering in lift lines, etc.  On flat terrain you can go a *little* faster skating with poles than without.

post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthias99 View Post

 

Racers need them to push off at the start, and in SL to cross-block gates.  If you watch SG/DH races they rarely make anything resembling full pole swings/plants once they're up to speed.

 

That may be true but have u ever seen a racer lose one? They barely stay on the course if they even manage to finish.

post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by lonewolf210 View Post

 

That may be true but have u ever seen a racer lose one? They barely stay on the course if they even manage to finish.

That's because you must finish the race with both poles.

 

OP, you need to get poles and take a lesson if you ever going to get better. I learned back in the late 90's to cut my poles so my forarms angle down about a inch or so. It helps me get forward and drive the tips of the skis.

 

 

My GF (52y/o) has only been skiing a few times, I'll say 20 or so. She has poles and can safely follow me down black diamond trials. She knows how to use the big toe and the ball of her foot to drive the ski. She is beginning to do pole plants if I remind her.

 

I say this to help convince you to take a lesson, or read on here and ask questions. If you want to get better we can help, but your going to need poles. I use them a lot even at faster speeds, it's all part of the movement pattern.

 

Remember, the better you get, the more fun this becomes.

post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by lonewolf210 View Post

 

That may be true but have u ever seen a racer lose one? They barely stay on the course if they even manage to finish.

 

I think you're confusing cause and effect.  Typically they lose a pole because they're out of control, not the other way around.

post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Capacity View Post

That's because you must finish the race with both poles.

 

 

That is not a rule.

 

Racers lose a pole reasonably frequently (just go to any local USSA/FIS race, it'll happen to somebody, probably).

 

See here for an example in Super G

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzwr5dWf1Wo

 

He skis great with one pole until the bottom.

 

The reason racers tend to go out when they lose a pole are

 

1) it's awkward

2) it throws off balance

3) IT HURTS A LOT.

post #14 of 21

The OP is probably not going to worry about racing for a while . . . he's working on moving up from greens to blues in PA.

post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthias99 View Post

 

I think you're confusing cause and effect.  Typically they lose a pole because they're out of control, not the other way around.

Not really. Yes people lose poles when tehya re out of control but I have also seen racers lose poles because they miss judge their line and clip a gate that pulls the pole out of their hand.

 

As bruins pointed out there are several reasons for it being detremental and it is still possible to ski reasonablly well but you'll never see someone podium(professional level) or finish all that well without a pole. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

The OP is probably not going to worry about racing for a while . . . he's working on moving up from greens to blues in PA.

I'm well aware but it was being pointed to that racers don't pole plant and at least the way I was reading it was being used as an example as to way poles aren't that important. Even when the poles aren't being used for a plant they are an important part of balance and essential to learn to use if the OP wishes to progress. I have spent entire lessons doing nothing but working on pole plants and hands position. 

post #16 of 21

Some useful info in an old Instruction thread for the OP's son:

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/8502/when-should-kids-start-using-poles

post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by lonewolf210 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

The OP is probably not going to worry about racing for a while . . . he's working on moving up from greens to blues in PA.

I'm well aware but it was being pointed to that racers don't pole plant and at least the way I was reading it was being used as an example as to way poles aren't that important. Even when the poles aren't being used for a plant they are an important part of balance and essential to learn to use if the OP wishes to progress. I have spent entire lessons doing nothing but working on pole plants and hands position. 

Thanks for the explanation.

post #18 of 21
Thread Starter 

thanks for all the info, the links that were provided were a huge help

post #19 of 21

You ski with your poles not your legs.  Of course you can ski groomers w/o poles, but if you want to advance to a higher level of skiing, steeper slopes, mogul or powder - poles are an absolute necessity.  Most people have poles that are too short.  Don't go by the ski shop guideline of holding the pole upside down with you hand on top, you need a size or possibly two longer.  If your poles are too short, when you plant it will cause your shoulders to rotate to much, and you will turn too much, loosing your momentum.  It is extremely common for this to happen and a huge reason skiers don't progress to the next level. As you go up the lifts, watch the expert skiers and how they plant and use their poles.

post #20 of 21
Um yeah you need poles and lessons.... And do your son a favor and get him poles and lessons too... Preferably far away from you, then ski together after you figure out how to ski properly... Otherwise you become land mines for the rest of us... Good luck.
post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by lonewolf210 View Post

Not really. Yes people lose poles when tehya re out of control but I have also seen racers lose poles because they miss judge their line and clip a gate that pulls the pole out of their hand.

 

That's a different situation -- of course clipping a gate unexpectedly at high speed is going to mess you up.  In a race someone typically loses a pole because something has gone wrong.  Losing a few ounces of weight on one hand is not going to meaningfully throw someone off in a speed event.

 

Quote:
...Even when the poles aren't being used for a plant they are an important part of balance and essential to learn to use if the OP wishes to progress. I have spent entire lessons doing nothing but working on pole plants and hands position.

 

Pole plants are usually HELPFUL, and for most people they are useful for dialing in upper body and hand positioning/timing.  But unless you're making blocking plants in moguls or on VERY steep terrain, they are not "essential" to ski well.  They weigh so little that a normal swing has no practical effect on your balance -- it's all in the hand and body positioning.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SnowbirdDevotee View Post

You ski with your poles not your legs.

 

I could not disagree more with that statement.  Ski turns are primarily made with lower body movements.  If your upper body is in the wrong place it's harder to get your feet and legs to do what you want, but the goal is to get the skis to go where you want them to.  Good hand position isn't going to salvage a fundamentally flawed turn.

 

A well-timed pole swing/touch can help you keep your hands and upper body in the right place, but from a physics perspective they do practically nothing unless you make a blocking plant.

 

Quote:
Most people have poles that are too short.  Don't go by the ski shop guideline of holding the pole upside down with you hand on top, you need a size or possibly two longer.

 

The normal way of sizing poles is to hold them upside down with your hand under the (inverted) basket and the handle on the floor.  (The idea being that in soft snow the part beyond the basket will be in the snow if you plant it, so you want to size it between the handle and basket.)  With the correct length your hand should be level with your elbow in that position, or maybe a tiny bit below.

 

Quote:
If your poles are too short, when you plant it will cause your shoulders to rotate to much, and you will turn too much, loosing your momentum.  It is extremely common for this to happen and a huge reason skiers don't progress to the next level.

 

If your poles are too short and you try to firmly plant them in the snow on every turn, that can mess you up.  If you make a more normal swing a short pole isn't normally an issue.  If you ski a lot of moguls you may find it easier with poles that are a little short, since the tops of the moguls below you are relatively higher than the snow on an open slope.

 

Too-long poles can also be an issue, since it becomes hard to actually reach downhill without snagging them on the snow during your swing.  That can make people lean their upper body back.

 

If you rotate your shoulders because you swing your pole you're doing something very weird.  If you're planting so hard that it throws off your momentum, that's also an issue, but it has little to do with your poles.  You normally want to make a VERY light touch, or just make a swing from the wrist without the pole even touching the snow.  This is one of the reasons why instructors sometimes like to have people ski without poles -- if you're misusing them it can hide other problems, or throw you off.

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