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How long should poles be?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Me: 5'9", 175 lbs, now use 120cm (approx. 50" I think?) salomon aluminum poles - seems fine to me. Was out yesterday with an accomplished, level 3 instructor, he is over 6' tall, and his poles are 48" maybe shorter. He felt I should have mine shortened to at least 48", maybe even 46"? Besides turning the pole upside down and holding it in front of you to measure, any thoughts out there?
post #2 of 23

About two inches higher than your ears...

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtbakersnow View Post
Me: 5'9", 175 lbs, now use 120cm (approx. 50" I think?) salomon aluminum poles - seems fine to me. Was out yesterday with an accomplished, level 3 instructor, he is over 6' tall, and his poles are 48" maybe shorter. He felt I should have mine shortened to at least 48", maybe even 46"? Besides turning the pole upside down and holding it in front of you to measure, any thoughts out there?
...is usually good. Just kidding! It's a little hard to say absolutely. The upside down method will usually get you in the ball park. After that, it's according to use and individual preference. I like mine a little on the short side for all events. I know some people who use long poles for GS (more push at the start, not as much of a need for pole plant as in SL), shorter poles for SL. In general, however, a pole that's too long is going to make it somewhat difficult to make a clean pole plant and get any decent flexion/angulation going on, and I think this is what you are hearing. What you might think about doing...and all you need is a tube cutter to do this...is cut them down by an inch, go skiing, see how it feels...if you're not there yet, cut off some more, and so forth...
post #3 of 23
Mine are 135 cm, I'm just under 6'3". Anything shorter is a real problem -- perma-crouch.
post #4 of 23
A 120 cm pole will usually be cross-referenced as 48 inches.
(120 cm = 47.25", or 48" = 122 cm)

Ask your instructor why he would recommend going shorter. There are good reasons to go for a shorter pole, and equally good reasons for going longer.

I'm 5'-7" and use 125 cm poles most of the time. Sometimes in the bumps I borrow my wife's 110 cm poles.
post #5 of 23
This is a preference thing, and the sweet spot of pole length varies for every individual based on your personal biomechanics and skiing style.

Do you feel like when you plant, you akwardly have to roll over your pole by lifting your elbow and raising your shoulder? One indication of poles being too long.

If you do cut your poles start by taking off a 1/4" to 1/2". If you take a full inch off and it feels too short, your off to buy new poles.
post #6 of 23
About 9 years ago I shorten my poles so when I use the upside method my hands are about 1" below parallel to the ground. It allows me to stand up and not feel like the poles are pushing me into the back seat.
post #7 of 23
Most people are using poles that are simply a bit too long because they have used the conventional "handle down and grab the basket .... if the forearm is parallel to the ground = OK" ..... approach to sizing.

Me too .... did that for years till I was with a PSIA examiner and noticed that his pole work was effortless. He uses a slightly short pole.

Grabbed my wife's poles by mistake and the were better.

What I learned to do, is watch a students shoulders and arm extension when we are working. If I notice any pole drag or arm lift ..... bingo ... the poles are too long and this results in wasted motion and poor extension since you will be compensating in one way or another.

It doesn't take much ... in my case, I was patient and ended up cutting them back only about a quarter of an inch each time .... not much at all ... maybe only a bit over a half an inch, but it made a difference.

The pole needs to be swung toward the next turn ... gently and loosely in a pendulum like manner with a flick of the wrist".
post #8 of 23
My poles are too long. I end up holding them by the bottom of the handle when I do pole "touches". Of course, when I rail, no need for poles.

I think I'm going to cut them down about 1 inch.
post #9 of 23
on the other hand, who wants to look like an instructor???

It really depends on what you're skiing, pure powder, something steep? Go longer. Bumps, Slalom gates, go shorter
post #10 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yuki View Post
Most people are using poles that are simply a bit too long because they have used the conventional "handle down and grab the basket .... if the forearm is parallel to the ground = OK" ..... approach to sizing.

Me too .... did that for years till I was with a PSIA examiner and noticed that his pole work was effortless. He uses a slightly short pole.
I was told by someone who instructors that my hand movements looked more natural then one of the Level III's on the hill. I wonder if it's the shorter poles.

I have a level II friend that I have been telling about shorter poles for years, but she still sticks to what the PSIA says.
post #11 of 23
I often see skiers whose poles are too long and suffer for it in terms of technique. I was doing a long bump run with a friend a few years back--same height as me--and he was really struggling. He had 130's, I use 120's. We swapped, and you could see the difference right away. He was suddenly much more centered and aggressive.
post #12 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by prickly View Post
I often see skiers whose poles are too long and suffer for it in terms of technique. I was doing a long bump run with a friend a few years back--same height as me--and he was really struggling. He had 130's, I use 120's. We swapped, and you could see the difference right away. He was suddenly much more centered and aggressive.
Yes, so once again, long poles tend to push you into the back seat. You can be smooth in bumps from the back seat.
post #13 of 23
I used the old method of measuring for poles 120ish cm.
A little over a year ago I went to a 115 cm pole to adjust for the Prickley method.

After a lesson, I was scolded about my compact stance and went back to my old pole length and have been feeling much better, not to mention I've been able to stand straighter, which is something Dan Egan pushed with me at Stowe.
post #14 of 23
Actually, the new Prickly method is this: measure the width of your skis underfoot in milimeters. Convert that number into centimeters. That's your pole length. So if you want to ski with 120 cm poles, you've got to have 120 mm width skis. It could work...

Seriously, I learned recently that not all poles are measured the same. My wife gave me a pair of Head carbon poles, marked 120, for Christmas last year. They were a few cm longer than every other 120 pole around, though. I swapped them for a Head 115 cm, which is virtually the same length as my Scott 120s. The shop assured me they're not mismarked, in fact they showed me a whole batch of Head poles which measured up the same way.
post #15 of 23
Max, I really think so. Just a tad shorter though, my wifes poles were a bit too short but still felt pretty good and this was totally accidential since we have identical Goodes.

I just shaved a bit each trip (didn't reglue the grips), till I got them just right. It took like four or five shots on the saw (solid carbon composite), but it was well worth the effort.

Damned .... for once something came out right ... : ......
post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by prickly View Post
Actually, the new Prickly method is this: measure the width of your skis underfoot in milimeters. Convert that number into centimeters. That's your pole length. So if you want to ski with 120 cm poles, you've got to have 120 mm width skis. It could work...

Seriously, I learned recently that not all poles are measured the same. My wife gave me a pair of Head carbon poles, marked 120, for Christmas last year. They were a few cm longer than every other 120 pole around, though. I swapped them for a Head 115 cm, which is virtually the same length as my Scott 120s. The shop assured me they're not mismarked, in fact they showed me a whole batch of Head poles which measured up the same way.
With that theory, I'd have to have 7 pair of poles to go with my 8 pair of skis.:
post #17 of 23
You say that as if it's a bad thing.
post #18 of 23
i'm 6' tall w/o my gear on, and i ski a 48" pole. i like the shorter length for bumps and choppy snow. it is easier to keep your hands up and gives less swing-weight so you are less likely to get into the back seat. it also encourages a forward stance on steeps. i arrived at that length by trying shorter and shorter poles (i was on 52" poles when i was 12 y/o) until i started missing pole plants while skiing groomers. i say go as short as you can before you start whiffing on smooth snow. and fwiw, i don't feel that i am too "haunched-over," so IF i am dropping my hands down (as in extending my elbow downwards while still being in front of me, because i am POSSITIVE that my hands do not drop back towards my hips, which is what i find causes "back seat driving"), then i just don't notice it.
post #19 of 23
Bump
post #20 of 23
Most people i've noticed tend to go too short with their poles.
post #21 of 23
Most people when buying poles do the turn them over and grab above the basket near the tip. What they should do is grab under the basket putting it on the top of your thumb and index finger. THis will give a much better general fit. From there it is fine tuning and personel preference.

Me 6' 1/2" (1/2" makes me feel taller...) 130cm (51 1/4). For the most part it's just right but I could lop off 1/4" to a 1/2".
post #22 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtbakersnow View Post
Me: 5'9", 175 lbs, now use 120cm (approx. 50" I think?) salomon aluminum poles - seems fine to me. Was out yesterday with an accomplished, level 3 instructor, he is over 6' tall, and his poles are 48" maybe shorter. He felt I should have mine shortened to at least 48", maybe even 46"? Besides turning the pole upside down and holding it in front of you to measure, any thoughts out there?
This may sound "dumb" but here is your answer.....

Your pole is comprised of 3 sections. The tip and basket, the shaft, and the grip. The length of the tip and basket is pretty standard across all poles...so is the grip. Hence the big variable is the shaft.

The shaft should equal the length of the space between your hand at the moment the pole basket hits the snow, and the snow surface at the point your pole basket hits the snow....ie it should fill the void.

If the pole shaft is too short it will pull your hand, and likely your upper body into an unnaturally low position...conversly it will do the opposite if it is too long.

Now as a guide the upside down pole method gives a good ball park...but then if you ski with risers, you may need to add some length...BUT if you are a strong skier that is low in the transitions due to the need for absorbtion, your poles will be shorter!
post #23 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post
With that theory, I'd have to have 7 pair of poles to go with my 8 pair of skis.:
Quote:
Originally Posted by prickly View Post
You say that as if it's a bad thing.
Sorry, I missed your post.
I was shopping for poles
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