Stu Campbell (aka The Professor at Ski Magazine) wrote:
I don't think I'm using my poles correctly. What's your advice?
Havre de Grace, Md.
Too few skiers realize that poles are extensions of our arms. Imagine a group of apes scrambling down a hill: They touch the ground with their knuckles each time they change direction. A ski pole works similarly, as a third point of contact with the snow. The pole touch not only stabilizes your upper body, but also establishes a rhythm and is your cue to change edges. Pole Fundamental: We use our right pole for right turns, our left pole for left turns. Think of them as directional signals: Swing the tip of your left pole forward to get ready to turn left, and right tip to turn right. We don't "turn around" our pole, nor do we lean on it heavily. Putting the pole's tip in the snow before a turn is a delicate pole "touch," not a "pole plant."
When you begin using your poles properly, the sequence is: Get the pole ready, touch, change edges. As you make parallel turns, you touch and change edges at about the same time, then immediately swing the other pole forward to be ready for the next turn. As you improve, you flow from one turn to the next so smoothly that you actually change edges before the pole touches the snow. The best World Cup racers eliminate the pole touch altogether in long, high-speed turns. But in slalom, moguls and everyday skiing, a well-timed pole touch is still critical for most of us.