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Pole Plants/Pole Touches what are they good for?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
There seems to be alot of confusion around this topic. I'll start off by trying to explain why we pole plant....

We essentially pole plant to aid in our "timing and co-ordination". So what does that mean? Well pole plants, when done properly help with the following things:

Lateral Balance. We plant the pole at the transition...it is also at the transition that we are moving our COM from one side of our skis to other, so the pole plant aids in getting our COM across the skis in the "right amount."...the pole "hitting" the snow prevents us going too far...and the need to put it in the snow, ensures we go far enough.

Rotational Balance. Again we plant at the transition...at skis flat...this is also where in many turns the skis begin to be "pivoted" into the new turn. If the pivoting is done properly, by having the legs rotate in the hip sockets...the 2 pivot points (ie one for each leg) will counter each other, and stabalise the upper body. However, if your "timing" is out a bit, and you turn one leg more then the other...or at different rates, it will put a rotational force into your upper body...the pole plant blocks that...

Hence the pole plant aids in "timing and co-ordination" primarily in that it helps compensate for any little blips in timing or the co-ordination of our movments.....

Thus as conditions get more challenging, the chances of us, getting perfect timing is reduced...thus the pole plant is more required. This is very apparent when you look at GS skiing on blue groomers. Most even advanced level skiers can look great, without a pole plant...as no "compensation" in timing and co-ordination is required...but put that same skier on a steep mogul run, and they will undoubtley struggle without pole plants.


So why the confustion? Why pole plant/pole touch? What is difference? Why did we change?

A classic "pole plant" is a light flick of the wrist, with some arm movement...blah blah..the point is, the movment is light, not aggressive. Yet when we do a pole plant the FEELING is agressive...especially when skiing at higher speeds...the pole plant is a solid hit. This is the source of confusion. Light move...creates a solid hit. How? Well it is simple really. Because you are moving forward at say 25mph...and you pole plant enters the snow and effecitvley stops, the "hit" is created by the difference in your speed and the stopped! It is like if you where riding in a car at 30mph, and stuck your arm out the window and tried to "hi-five" your mate standing on the side of the road...even though both of you just held your hands out...the impact would HURT! (Trust me, I learned this the hard way at about 15.

Thus people feel when they get this impact it is pole plant...and thus the movements are aggressive...they are not...never were. The impact comes from the angle the pole hits the snow at, and your forward momentum.

So what is a "pole touch" then. A pole touch is used at high speeds, say GS or SG or DH. The pole "tip" never enters the snow. The basket is most likely to just scrape the ground. There is a trade off here...by doing the pole touch...the skiers doesnt lose their arm...but they lose the second benefit of pole planting in that it wont help with the pivoting of the legs...BUT this is a good trade off, especially with todays skis, becuase the amount of pivoting done is greatley reduced, and in many cases..the pivoting is gone altogether as the skier just carves arc to arc. Thus the "pole touch" is used, as they still get the first benefit of assisting lateral balance.

Hence Pole plants help compensate for "timing and co-ordination" fobbles, the movment between a pole touch and a plant is nearly the same, the main difference is the slight angle at which the pole hits the snow...a pole touch does not provide the same benefits of a true plant...but in applications where assistance with pivoting is not really required..ie arc to arc skiing at speed...it is good trade off to make.
post #2 of 29
Many skiers and racers pole plant/touch before the skis are flat. Typically as a signal to start the release.
post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 
And some slightly after the skis are flat...flat skis is what 1/100th of a second? The pole plant lasts probaly what.....almost a full second? So ya Max....I highly doubt it is ever perfectly at a the exact 1/100th of second the skis are flat.....:

As a signal? No way....it should be all one fluid movement...not plant...then release...it is all too quick for that....
post #4 of 29
I'm not saying its one way or the other or a right vs wrong way. But I have heard more than one race coach state that the plant happens as a signal to release and many pictures/video of racers support that.
post #5 of 29
Thread Starter 
Yes the "action" of beginning to pole plant/touch is a signal to release...not the actual insertion of the pole tip into the snow...by that point flat skis are 1/100ths of a second away....
post #6 of 29
Ah, I can see you are one of the folks that believes strongly the plant must come after the release. I have heard that method described by coaches as well. There is definitely a split on when the plant should happen. But as you say, its 1/100s of a difference so not sure it matters much.
post #7 of 29
Thread Starter 
Nope I dont feel strongly either way.....just ahead...just after.....it matters little if you ask me....I dont split skiing down into 1/100th of a second. I am sure if the technology existed to actually record it, you would see it is just that...a mix of just ahead...and just behind...to look at any more accurate then to say "at skis flat" really makes no sense in my book as when exactley would you measure it?

The instant the tip enters the snow?
The instant the basket hits the snow?
The instant the snow finished compressing under the basket?
Some intermediary point...like maybe the instant the pole tip is exactley 5/8 of an inch into the snow. Taking into account the effects for irregularities in the snow surface?????

Give me a break.
post #8 of 29
We use 'touch...switch' to simplify the timing with skilled children.

Touch to trigger release.
post #9 of 29
As far as I'm concerned, there does not even need to be a "touch" per say, except in the strictest academic sense. If you don't actually plant it, then its strictly academic, a touch is not going to do anything for you accept confirm that your timing is on or off. Does touching help many with their timing? Absolutely.

In my view, a bigger reason for a pole plant/touch is not about the pole plant/touch itself but more about the actual "swing" that occurs while preparing. The swing becomes part of our movement pattern. The touch is completely optional as far as I'm concerned. In fact do you even need a pole to do this? No. But a having a pole helps your balance in much the same way that a tight rope walker has more control over balance by using a long pole in his hands. Poles provide this added ability to control and manipulate balance without having to make as many gross body movements.

The only time an actual pole plant really matters, in my mind, is when you specifically need a blocking pole plant. That should really not be happening every turn and not at 25+ mph either!

All that being said, the vast majority of skiers need to plant or touch their poles because their timing is probably way off without it. ha ha. but its really the swing that they need, not the touch. And unless they want blocking, the plant is not needed either.
post #10 of 29
The extra point of contact allows us to have a wider base of support. So labeling it as unnecessary is an overstatement IMO. I use a pole touch, and a blocking pole plant. So do all of the WC skiers. So I would disagree with the notion that only the skiers with bad timing use it, or need it. Of course we could all ski without it but my question would be if it is so unnecessary, why do so many of the top skiers in the world use it?
post #11 of 29
Absolutley Nothing, Say It Again.....
post #12 of 29
Here's a slow motion sequence on YouTube - the muzak is horrid, but in slow motion, you can see that when the going gets tough, the tough pole plant.

You can tell they are planting rather than touching, evident by the amount of bend in the pole. There'a also a few double pole plants in there.
post #13 of 29
i'm with JASP and V8,
i believe the pole plant is key fundamental.
when you have a mechanically solid swing and plant (or touch depending on your turn choice), it prevents many problem movement patterns, while creating positive movements.

I focus on a positive plant in all turns so it is there when the "going gets tough".


cheers,
holiday
post #14 of 29
They are a good balance training exercise; after you break your wrist by making a pole plant at speed, you will have to ski without poles for the rest of the day which will help increase you balancing skills
post #15 of 29
Since pole plants are fundamental, perhaps you guys can offer some MA to these poor schlubs who seem to have missed the boat?



post #16 of 29
Thread Starter 
Um...pole plants/touches...aid in turning.....with one exception at the end there....these guys are not turning....just going straight, hitting a big jump, and doing some cool aerial acrobatics.......

No doubt someone missed the boat...but I dont think it is the guys in your vid.:
post #17 of 29
Watch more of their videos. They are adept at turns big and small with or without poles... Just a reality check about the fundamental or "required" thing.
post #18 of 29
Thread Starter 
I dont think anyone said "required"....just pointing out what they are good for...no doubt you can find lots of video of WCers skiing without a pole touch/plant either.....but I think the reasons for this are explained above quiet well...you dont NEED to plant...but they sure help you if your T&C is a little out or conversly help prevent it from getting out in the first place....ie, when the going gets tough...from what I saw, these guys are doing pretty simple, low speed check turns, in consistent powder....

The fact is, you can ski with one ski too....but skiing with 2 is a heck of alot easier, and you can get alot more performance.....
post #19 of 29
You can always point to an anecdotal example of what to do, or what not to do, but that does not a rule make .

In general a pole plant or touch is a fundamental component of good skiing. My post from a related current thread:
http://forums.epicski.com/showpost.p...97&postcount=4

There are certainly moments of creative variation or improvisation where a pole touch isn't used, but IMO that's an exception or elite skill, and certainly not something to promote.

Regards,
Matt
post #20 of 29
This pretty much sums it up! does it also apply to freeskiing? yes, I believe it does for much the same reasons.

http://www.youcanski.com/en/coaching/pole_plant.htm
post #21 of 29
I just finished five days skiing the steeps of Big Sky with some world class coaches who, among other things, worked with us on swinging the outside pole basket forward with the outside foot, lightly dragging the tip of the inside pole on the snow for touch and a stronger inside half, and using the pole touch to start turns in steeps to maintain turning and prevent traversing. No wonder I differ from Spindrift:

Skillful use of the poles is absolutely required for all-mountain expert skiing.
post #22 of 29
Once again, I"m w/ Nolo.

and,
those jib boys would be better w/ poles, they are just like all teenagers, they need a little rebellion to feel good.

i've been poleless a bit too often in my time, with a few broken hands and fingers... sure you can ski fine, but things just work better with that toy doing it's job correctly.

cheers,
holiday
post #23 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post
Since pole plants are fundamental, perhaps you guys can offer some MA to these poor schlubs who seem to have missed the boat?



I've seen some pretty amazing things done on one ski. Give that a shot as well. Your pair will last twice as long!
post #24 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post
Watch more of their videos. They are adept at turns big and small with or without poles... Just a reality check about the fundamental or "required" thing.
Watched that one clip but just like skidude72 pointed out there were no skiing in that clip only jumps and landings. There were actually a couple of turns right at the end just before a cliff drop. Typical for skiing without poles in powder is eccessive rotation.

BTW, as an instructor I have learned to ski wouthout poles. Beginners and especially kids dont need them as they learn the basics. Kids can be without for several years. It only improves their skiing skills. All parrents that ski with small children I advice to leave their poles at home. They can help their kids out much more easy on the slope and in the lift and its much less dangerous for the children. Skiing without ski poles is also much more difficult. Guys in the video are expert skiers and do well without. Still, for the same reason 6y olds are better without poles these guys are too, their own safety . They just dont know it . Dont tell them because they will rebell and kick your butt. Also, its much easier to hold the camera and to carrie showels and other necessary gear such as ghetto blasters and six packs down the slope.

BTW, didnt taichiskier ski without ski poles? Anybody think it is the coolest thing on earth track him down and take lessons .
post #25 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6 View Post

BTW, didnt taichiskier ski without ski poles? Anybody think it is the coolest thing on earth track him down and take lessons .
Comparing Fujas/Pollard/Mahre to taichiskier? :

Folks who claim to do MA/clinics/instruction watching & not analyzing what those guys are capable of without poles? In this and other videos any credible person should be paying attention to... And even at many local hills, what some of the young superb skiers are doing. Or are you guys not paying attention?

To be clear. I'm not arguing that poles are bad or have no use - either practically or pedagogically. I use them most of the time - but I also know some very strong skiers who are abandoning them under most circumstances. What I am saying is that there is empirical evidence that poles are not "fundamental" to the skiing that 99%, maybe 99.9%, of skiing enthusiasts will ever do.

More later - despite my actual lack of both skill and credentials, I do have two eyes that are looking over the bow of the boat and not the stern
post #26 of 29
so, I must say, spindrift, seems you're calling me and others out. "any credible person" should be paying attentions to, are we not paying attention... you insinuate we are looking back and not forward...

you can bet those boys can ski w/ poles (and have been well trained by world class freestyle or park coaches) and if you ask them, they will let you know that they can ski more difficult terrain w/ poles the w/o and that they are more balanced with. Sure, good skiers can ski w/o, but all of us are more accurate with then without.

i gave a lesson early this year to a level 8, 20 yr old who can throw his mutiple flips, 1440 or whatever crazy number of rotations they enjoy... park master, average skier. he brought out his park poles, since he said he forgot his "big mountain" poles. we worked on some skiing some steeps and bumps, and he learned pretty quick, but kept blaming some of his issues on not having the right poles... not just poles, but too short, designed to do multiple flips and be out of the way. he said it's big debate in the park now, with or w/o, little kid poles, or real poles... but, they aren't debating whether they want them to ski big mountain. that would be a little confused. no body in the big mt comps is skiing poleless, though they are getting park tricks there now.

do you want to be good to great skier. learn to use poles correctly, with solid upper body discipline. once you know how to use them correctly, you can get away w/o it in terrain you are confortable with, or ski more conservatively.

comfortably looking back... and forward

Holiday
post #27 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Holiday View Post
so, I must say, spindrift, seems you're calling me and others out. "any credible person" should be paying attentions to, are we not paying attention... you insinuate we are looking back and not forward...

you can bet those boys can ski w/ poles (and have been well trained by world class freestyle or park coaches) and if you ask them, they will let you know that they can ski more difficult terrain w/ poles the w/o and that they are more balanced with. Sure, good skiers can ski w/o, but all of us are more accurate with then without.

i gave a lesson early this year to a level 8, 20 yr old who can throw his mutiple flips, 1440 or whatever crazy number of rotations they enjoy... park master, average skier. he brought out his park poles, since he said he forgot his "big mountain" poles. we worked on some skiing some steeps and bumps, and he learned pretty quick, but kept blaming some of his issues on not having the right poles... not just poles, but too short, designed to do multiple flips and be out of the way. he said it's big debate in the park now, with or w/o, little kid poles, or real poles... but, they aren't debating whether they want them to ski big mountain. that would be a little confused. no body in the big mt comps is skiing poleless, though they are getting park tricks there now.

do you want to be good to great skier. learn to use poles correctly, with solid upper body discipline. once you know how to use them correctly, you can get away w/o it in terrain you are confortable with, or ski more conservatively.

comfortably looking back... and forward

Holiday
Good post Holiday.

I get a little anoyed by newbs who need history lessons. Not much is new. The "no poles" thing is far from new....they havent used poles in freestyle aerials for along time...since the 70s? Maybe even before that...not sure....so "no poles" in the park...is not a new idea...but rather an old one, re-invented.

I remember back when I used to live in Revy, the worlds only true ski town...that didnt really have much of a ski hill...:..until after I moved away.....but anyway, on the walls in the main bar in town (CMH Headquarters), there were all these pics from the 20s and 30s of swiss and austrian guides, skiing incredible lines, and hucking cliffs and cornices on their 240cm wood skis, and leather boots....sure the heights were not what they do today, but with the gear those guys were on, they no doubt had as much, if not more skill...but regardless the whole of idea of "extreme skiing" being new is ridicoulus...the only thing that is new is that now it is marketed to the masses.

Further a few years back when I lived in NZ, I happened to live with essentially the NZ Snowboard team (dont ask how I ended up in that situation)...anyway, they were all into tricks, and pushing the limits as they called it....doing tricks like "Smoked salmon...hold the cheese", and "Double Mctwist with extra pickles"...whatever those were.

So anyway I asked them one day....what is the hardest thing trick being done in snowboarding today? They told me: I cant remember the name of it, but essentially it was like a 1080 with a flip, if I recall....they then went on to tell me in a rather smug tone how snowboarding is pushing things in new directions that skiers couldn't even comprehend...and that the boundaries of what was possible was being re-invented constantly.

"Interesting" I said....."so have you guys ever heard of "Lloyd Langlois". "No" they reponded......"Well, he used to do a 1440...with 3 flips". ::: Was their only response.......I then rubbed salt into their wounds by pointing out, LLoyd rained in the 80s.

Everything that is old...is new again....it is just a little bit of history repeating.
post #28 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post
Since pole plants are fundamental, perhaps you guys can offer some MA to these poor schlubs who seem to have missed the boat?



Easy, by my count there were a total of three turns in the video. Those three were only there to "time" one of the jumps.

The video contains a serious lack of technical skiing.
post #29 of 29
I think the ability to use your poles well initiating turns in difficult terrain makes a huge difference in how well you ski. Without good pole action, you're uncommitted and hanging back not committed to the fall line compromising balance and the next turn. The pole plant gets everything going in the right sequence which gets very amplified in difficult conditions and terrain.

Maybe the most overlooked and impacting dimension of how well you ski bumps and steeps IMHO.
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