I guess we can agree that everyone likes what works for them. I haven't been skiing long. Did a little in HS back in the 70's and not again until 2005. I got hurt in 2008 skiing because I didn't know what I was doing or that I sucked at it, and have been a student of the sport since. My daughter (why I was voluntold by the wife to ski in 2005) wanted to keep skiing and that means I had to go. So I decided I better figure this out before I get killed. Got hoodwinked into becoming an instructor in 2009 and I still study this sport and much that goes with it daily. I'll be the first to admit I'm wrong (there are several posts on epic where that was proven) once it is proven that I'm not right. I don't care, I just want to learn. I really don't have a style that I think is "the way". Yes I belong to PSIA but have also argued with senior instructors (to their annoyance) on things that weren't making sense. Too many times I see things that used to make sense and no longer do because of newer equipment.
My point of all that is I don't have any preconceived notions, which is why I started this thread with a question and not a statement.
The original post -
OK. When it comes to GS, most everyone thinks bigger is better; skis, poles and people too. All of it is a general rule and we all know plenty of instances when it didn't work. I shortened my ski poles by 4" and it improved my skiing (I'm 5'7"). I'm planning on racing again this year and thought I would get GS specific poles. I have 50" GS poles from before. The length I currently use is 46".
My question is, should I go with 46" GS or keep the 50"?
I know everyone says longer ski poles at the start is an advantage, but once you push off, you have more than you need and doesn't that mean it will just get in the way? It would also mean when I'm skiing to the Start, I'm probably making adjustments in my stance because I'm carrying something 4" longer than it should be, and that isn't helpful.
Does anyone know of any proof that having ski poles 4" longer than you need will get you out of the start quicker? Frankly, simple math and geometry in my head says it isn't faster, as a shorter pole means my Start Stance will be more leaning down hill. My gut tells me to get the 46" ones. On the other hand, if there is evidence that longer is better, maybe a 48" for GS is what I need.
In my OP, I wasn't against going with a longer pole and was undecided. Still not sure which is best and will experiment this season on Starts. This was originally about GS and Starts and typical (I'm as guilty as any of them of tangents) it sort of spun off to slalom.
Poles too long are notorious for pushing people into the back seat. That was happening to me. Changing out to shorter poles was a game changer for me. Especially on steeper terrain because the shorter pole wasn't connecting, I had to lean down hill until is did!
In your particular circumstances, it could also be that you developed muscle memory over the past 30 years that would make changing seem awkward. I don't think it would be easy to change. Just look at how many old school skiers (no offense) still lift their inside leg even though they don't need to. I still see L3s do it from time to time. Habits die hard. Changing poles out after 30 years would be very difficult. Though I'm old, I'm not old school, so I don't have a lot of habits to break.
I have a friend that is shorter than I am (he's probably 5'6" tops), skis beautifully, is one of the fast guys. His short skis are race stock 183s and he uses 50" poles. He's been skiing almost 55 years and racing over 20. He has learned to make it work and I doubt anyone would watch him ski and say his poles are too long.
It was pointed out to me during a dry land clinic that my poles were too long. The next weekend with 3" shorter poles people asked me what I changed. I told them and they said take another inch off. For three seasons they saw me with the same poles but in my boots and skis and thought nothing of it. I still thank the L3 candidate that noticed it. I did change a few things last season; poles, boots and my fitness. All contributed. The poles were changed at the end of the previous season and it gave immediate results to the better. I don't know of any instances where longer poles have been given to a newer skier and that made them ski better, except for maybe park rats.
Even after all that, I still don't think that I have the answer. My original statement about being against being in boots and skis was because it could put people like myself, that are still learning, in the back seat. That was how I originally came up with 50" poles. I think it actually came out to 49" and rounded up because I was racing in beer league and my friend I mentioned about always give the same advice on skis and poles - "Go long."
And I did use my ski poles to fend off a snowboarder. He was coming straight at me and one of my charges where we were stopped with the intent of buzzing us. I put the grip against my chest and pointed the tip at him. He veered off immediately