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Double Pole Plants - Page 2

post #31 of 44
Thread Starter 

Lessons will help pretty much every other skier, and I am sure they would help me. I've been in a few clinics, but no lessons since the straight ski era.

 

Let me give you my perspective on what I am seeing, and tell me if you agree.

 

Background- there was about 20" down the day the video was shot. My wife (camerawoman) is a developing skier that had injury problems last year and didn't spend much time on the snow. This was one of the few times this year I got her off the groom. Up until this point that day, we had been skiing ungroomed beginner terrain- stuff that had so much snow that it was "skied" by weighting all the way back to keep the tips up to conserve momentum-no turns. Its what my wife wanted to ski to get comfortable in deeper snow. The pitch in the video is the first pitch requiring actual turns we had skied that day.

 

So here is what I see.

 

At the top of the run, I am skiing very, very backseat, probably from spending all day to that point skiing backseat on purpose.. The front of the ski isn't engaging, I am muscling the skis around. Upper body is going crazy trying to compensate, and because I am making pivot turns, my upper body is following the ski instead of staying squared downhill.

 

I realize I am in the backseat, and am able to correct around the point that I am passing between the two trees. The upper body flailing settles down, I'm facing down the hill, and I even have 1 or 2 relatively normal (comparatively) pole plants. I feel the lower part of the run is a bit more indicative of how I typically ski.

 

I'm pretty sure I have a decent grasp of edge release. You release the old outside edge by transferring more weight to the new outside ski when rolling the tips over, yes? In my case, it may look like I don't get this as it is really, really, really difficult for me to achieve a smooth transition because I can really sense how much weight I am shifting and how quickly I am doing it. I know this should be a smooth, measured transition (ie, don't throw all your weight on the outside ski, especially in soft snow)  but the reality is that some turns I will shift too much and will sink the outside ski, sometimes I shift too little and will catch up the inside ski.

 

Are you seeing something different?

post #32 of 44
Thread Starter 

A humble bump for more feedback? I've been through basically every piece of video I have, and I realize that 99% of the time I am holding the camera.

post #33 of 44
Andy Mill used to be a serial double pole planter. Looked weird, but it worked for him.
Ski more, worry less.
post #34 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

Andy Mill used to be a serial double pole planter. Looked weird, but it worked for him.
Ski more, worry less.

 

I'm bringing it up because I know it throws my rhythm off. What I hadn't realized until putting this thread together how often my pole plants get completely disconnected from the skiing rhythm, and I want to get better at that.

 

I suspect I will always have a bit of this, but I don't need to be doing what I am currently doing.

post #35 of 44

You are sabotaging your balance in many ways. I deal with balance issues a lot. I am married to someone with very little proprioceptor feedback from her muscles.  For her, balance must be constantly worked on or she loses ground. Our hope is to wean her off a cane again.  Skiing for her is beyond the horizon.

 

One of the things we have had some success with is tight base layers to increase proprioception feedback. Long compression socks would likely give you far more control on sensing pressure.

 

That said you need to look at balance as being a process with you in charge of that process.   Quick fixes, feeling inadequate and offering up excuses is self defeating.   If you are skiing that stuff you have more going for you than you think.  I certainly think you have the ability to improve your overall balance.  Get serious, write down what improves things, what adds no value and what you can do without.  Explore what you really have visually, middle ear wise and proprioception wise.

 

At the moment I think there is a good chance that you are not in a good alignment boot for you.  I think the fit and fore/aft balance are off.  You would be at a severe disadvantage to improve balance without proper fore/aft alignment.  I have a hunch that much of your back seat posture and low feedback is likely to be due to a alignment problem. 80%-90% of all skiers are not in good fore/aft alignment. Fore aft alignment  alone is often a process in itself even with a competent boot specialist.

 

Once you are confident with your alignment go with your wife to some easy terrain and start doing some slow turns in a wide stance.  When you settle down close your eyes and have your wife call out your turns and keep you out of trouble.  Tune in, how well do you do, how well does your wife think you are doing. Closing the eyes isolates visual from vestibular and proprioception.  If you do not do all that bad you likely have everything working in your favor.  If you do substantially worse tune into whether you are sensing and misinterpreting or not sensing.  Remember, all bets are off and this test is useless if you are in the wrong boots or misaligned. When skiing in the wrong boots you could probably run over a snowboarder sitting in the middle of the trail and might not get enough feedback to notice with your eyes shut.  Establishing a base though isolating where the physical weakness are points where to go from there.

 

After establishing a good base there are plenty of ways to move forward and greatly enhance balance.  Balance issues are very specific to you as an individual.  I won't begin to offer suggestions without a good starting point.  You might just decide its all to much hassle and go on the way you are now.  You seem to be having a lot of fun.

post #36 of 44
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the feedback.

 

I know my boots are properly sized. I will look into how to check the fore-aft part. I can flex my ankles and get forward cuff pressure in the boots, but that doesn't mean it is right.

 

I've never heard the bit about the tight base layers. I actually don't generally ski with base layers- part of the whole sensory processing thing really impacts the types of clothing I am able to wear without going more or less insane, but my sensory issues also mean I don't generally get cold. But, I need to look into seeing if that would help.

 

Closing my eyes while skiing and attempting to turn sounds terrifying. I can manage to stand with both feet on the ground with my eyes closed, but I cannot lift a foot- I go over almost instantly. However, I will try making a turn with my eyes closed, see how it goes, and if the world doesn't end, I'll try guided skiing with my wife.

 

I do have fun skiing, and I don't think my issues really hold me back from skiing what I want to ski. However, I know I waste a lot of energy with counterproductive movements that can be eliminated or at least minimized, and I'm getting some good feedback on where to start to try and improve this stuff.

post #37 of 44

I would play with these when I was learning to ski SL gates in the late 80's.  It helped me to keep a quite upper body when trying to get my 205's around.   Besides that, the only time I saw double pole plants was when a mono skier went by. 

 

Perhaps that is a great way for you to think about why you plant that way and how to fix it.  Do you mono ski?  No!  Why not?  Well, there are a number of reasons, but to help you get a train of thought going I'll mention the fact that both legs have to always be the same length.  Not on alpine skis!  We have the ability to make one leg longer and the other shorter.  You mention 'weighting' was your method of initiation.  Ask yourself just how you do this.

 

One last thing - Never, EVER ski in the backseat on purpose for any reason!  In fact, go find a steep hillside and lean back while walking down it.  Did you fall on your rear?  Now do it and keep your head over your feet and see if your shoes respond better.  Do it a third time and walk down (head over feet) while make a turns.  You'll notice that your feet turn below a stable body and that you will need to make your legs different lengths to initiate the first step in your turn.  If you really want to practice bring your poles!

 

Hope that helps!

post #38 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrudBuster View Post
 

 

One last thing - Never, EVER ski in the backseat on purpose for any reason!  In fact, go find a steep hillside and lean back while walking down it.  Did you fall on your rear?  Now do it and keep your head over your feet and see if your shoes respond better.  Do it a third time and walk down (head over feet) while make a turns.  You'll notice that your feet turn below a stable body and that you will need to make your legs different lengths to initiate the first step in your turn.  If you really want to practice bring your poles!

 

 

 

While I absolutely agree with what you are saying regarding technique, there is one situation that I think it is acceptable, perhaps even CORRECT form, to ski backseat.

 

If you have 2 feet+ of snow on a slope flatter than a bunny slope, the choice is either stand on the tails to float the tip up and keep moving, or ski with a normal position, get stopped, and start poling. The situation I mentioned where I was purposely backseat was that- I had basically been on my tails all day to that point because we were skiing no pitch stuff.

 

Skiing that involves actual turns, sure, there is no good reason to ski backseat.

post #39 of 44
Great thread, I am really impressed by what you've overcome...I think there is an underlying story as to the extent skiing is a sport where people with midline or related conditions can really excel and continue to develop. I have a son who has agenesis of the corpus callosum, which is a long term for saying that the primary connection between the two brain hemispheres never formed. That can mean anything from profound impacts to 'found it from an unrelated MRI'.

He is also far sighted with accommodative esotropia (an eye will turn in for close focus with the other eye) and he wears bifocals to help with looking down to maintain balance in uneven terrain. Lots of balance issues, really struggling with tying shoes at 10 years old, but can ride a bike well and he can ski, which has been great for him.

He skied two seasons in lessons without poles and then last year with poles and immediately improved. As you might expect, he isn't making effective pole plants, but the general motion made an immediate difference. Not much to help you here, I just enjoyed the thread and I think the topic of skiing and the brain midline is very interesting. I never had great natural balance and have done years of yoga to improve (cannot recommend this enough in terms of basic bi-lateral balance) and have found skiing to be a very natural form of balance development. I'd probably argue that point as being on a therapeutic level (as is yoga).

Do you do any mountain biking? That's a hands forward position that I think shares a great deal of the visual and mental (tactics) attributes of skiing and it would be interesting to know how you feel in that environment in terms of control, etc.

Static pics don't say much about the poles here...I'll have to go look at some video...

post #40 of 44
Thread Starter 

Thanks- I'm enjoying the discussion in this thread too.

 

I mountain bike occasionally, but my left knee has an old injury and really has trouble having force applied when bent- Spending an afternoon soaking up bumps and putting a bunch of force into the cranks really hurts it.  Road biking is a lot better and I do a fair bit.

post #41 of 44
Thread Starter 

So, I had my first day back on the snow since starting this thread. I focused a lot more on keeping my hands up where I could see them. Definite improvement- my pole plant timing was a lot better, it felt a lot better, and I could feel that settling down the upper body really helped what the legs were doing while helping me stay forward.

 

If I'm starting a plant with the hand not in my line of sight, I have a much, much higher tendency to bring both up and double plant. I really suspect this is related to what @segbrown said about bilateral processing- it makes sense, and even with my hands down yet still thinking about what I was doing with pole pants, I would still often find myself moving my hands in a mirrored fashion. If I keep them up and in sight, that just doesn't happen.

post #42 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post
 

So, I had my first day back on the snow since starting this thread. I focused a lot more on keeping my hands up where I could see them. Definite improvement- my pole plant timing was a lot better, it felt a lot better, and I could feel that settling down the upper body really helped what the legs were doing while helping me stay forward.

 

If I'm starting a plant with the hand not in my line of sight, I have a much, much higher tendency to bring both up and double plant. I really suspect this is related to what @segbrown said about bilateral processing- it makes sense, and even with my hands down yet still thinking about what I was doing with pole pants, I would still often find myself moving my hands in a mirrored fashion. If I keep them up and in sight, that just doesn't happen.

 

When a skier starts a pole plant with the arm back like you describe it is hard to not develop an undesirable upper body rotation.  As the arm comes up and forward, the shoulders and upper body will naturally rotate.  This rotation really helps get some steering going and does help to turn faster, which is why so many people do it.  It works and it feels natural for most people to do things with their upper bodies.  What makes it undesirable is that it is a flow killer and it becomes difficult to smoothly link one turn into the next using that movement pattern.  If you are over rotated through your turn, you most move your upper body first to start the next turn.  This is slow and inefficent.  The faster you ski, the harder it will become to keep up with these movements and you will always be a bit behind with your turns and working way too hard.  The double pole swing is an effective way to pull the whole body forward into the new turn.  Swinging both poles reduces the upper body rotation, but comes at the cost of not being able to move your CM effectively into the direction of the new turn.  This direction always has an across the skis and downhill direction to it.  When a skier swings both poles forward, the body moves forward but that skier is inhibiting counter and has a tendency to stay squared up to their skis.  I find it hard with a double pole plant to plant both poles on the downhill side of the skis.  Try it as a drill.  IMO a skier using a default double pole plant rarely has an effective directional movement into the new turn.

 

IMO one of the biggest skiing myths out there is the idea of staying forward.  I beleive that it is more important to move forward at turn intiation than to be forward all the time.  Being anywhere all the time is static and skiing and balance are dynamic activities.  Moving forward at the right time in a ski turn implies that at some point you must be back, or at least not forward.  There is another thread right now that talks about pushing and pulling the feet forward or back through a turn.  This is what they are talking about although I preffer to focus on my CM rather than my feet.  I also don't like the term "backpedalling" even though I recognize the movement.  Learning to allow your CM to work the length of your ski through the phases of the turn will make your skiing more dynamic and will improve edge grip and balance. 

 

Lastly...  I beleive that words have meaning and that a label subconsicsly affects how we respond to an idea.  At the risk of getting into a debate about jargon, I really dislike the term pole "plant", even though I still use it all the time.  It's the directional pole swing that generates most of the benefits of pole use.  Except in the case of a deliberate "blocking" pole plant, I think a swing with no touch or a light touch is better than the "stab and jab" approach that I see a lot of skiers using.

post #43 of 44
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the feedback- what you said I agree with 100%, only you phrased it much better. I know what I am doing with my upper body is counter productive. I know in some limited situations a double pole plant is recommended by some of the big-name skiers, and I also know that I may never be able to totally get by without doing so, but I also know calming my upper body down will help my rhythm, which I can tell gets seriously disrupted by random pole plants all over the place that seem to be as much habit as any true need.

 

I understand that dynamic fore-aft balance is preferable to just staying crammed against the front cuffs all day, but my understanding and experience is that being forward is much better than being backseat (and progressing to being dynamic is better than either). One thing I have to eternally fight against is the inclination to lean back when I am outside my comfort zone with terrain and snow conditions, making the challenge of those conditions even worse. I've made a lot of progress in that department, but from time to time I find that the only way to get me out of riding the tails is to stop, gather myself, and commit to really pressing into the boot cuffs to get out of the backseat. After I get over the confidence issue, I work more on being neutral and applying forward pressure at initiation as you said.

post #44 of 44

Don't jam on the cuffs too much.  There is a time and a place like Teton said.  The next time you come to a flat powder section try to make some turns -  Not slow steered turns but lots of flexion and extension and pressure to get some action out of the ski (make it bend).  You can't do this while only jamming on the cuffs or the back of the boot, and if you jam the cuffs to abruptly it could send you to the back just as fast.  I try to think of the pressure in my foot rather than in my boot. 

 

Did you walk down the steep hill?  If so, you may have noticed that there is also a fore / aft component.  You will have to be fore at initiation or you will be unable to make a turn and slide on your butt.

 

This video might help some with idea of a "pole touch" vs. plant, and the timing.  (watch his jacket zipper too)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pY8z1hTeG0w

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