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Hands & poles - Page 2

post #31 of 56
Originally posted by disski:

If you are unsure about WHY - try this...
a)try a challenging balance exercise (to each his own here - LM may suggest something)
b)NOW try it even HARDER (eg close eyes) - you should fail quickly at this level
c)NOW do it near some horizontal or vertical surface(table top/pole/pillar) & touch that surface with a finger-tip (either constantly or try just tapping) - notice the difference...

post #32 of 56
Originally posted by disski:
Did any of you lot try that exercise??
post #33 of 56
Originally posted by TomB:
I just want to add this: no matter how good your balance is without poles, it will be better with poles. You cannot get away from that reality, because it is based on physics.

Not just physics.....
post #34 of 56
I'm a confirmed "hands guy". I have traditionally had a very stiff upper body, but focusing on where my hands were loosened me up quite a bit. When everything seems to be falling apart, I can start back at hands and build from there.

For instance, if my shoulders are falling back I pull my hands forward. If I instead focused on my shoulders, I would end up with a "position" and would tense up my upper body to achieve it. If I'm rotating or banking (without intending to), keeping my hands in view while looking "down-the-hill-ish" cures that. In other words, it's a focal point that allows me to still flow and actually allows my body to react to terrain without my brain getting in the way. The result is usually better skiing from what the video has shown me.

As for poles, I still haven't gotten to where I'm any good with them. I can't run slalom without them, because I find them invaluable for timing (and for clearing those crazy stick thingys [img]smile.gif[/img] ). However, they aren't intuitive as I'd like them to be- I still have to think, and that gets me into trouble.

At any rate, are they important to me?
Hands- definitely.
Poles- undecided, but leaning towards yes. Give me a sizable research grant and I'll come back with a more definitive answer.
post #35 of 56
Thread Starter 
I am a firm believer in these words of advice: "Don't use your equipment as a crutch." Use your skeleton for support, not your poles, not the back of your boots, not the forebody or the tail of the skis.

It is true that you can use your equipment for support, and I have been known to do so in a pinch, but my intent is not to.

It's the swing and not the touch, the leading movement and not the stopping movement, that makes the pole swing integral. Expert skiing is "swinging." Fred Iselin and A.C. Spectorsky wrote in Invitation to Modern Skiing (1947, 1957, 1965):

"We think of skiing as we do of dancing: both are rhythmical, fun, sociable, graceful, physically active (if you don't believe that, go to a discotheque and watch the kids dance), and for these reasons we're going to insist on using the word "swing" to characterize a family of turns which are fluid and fast, gracile and mellifluously exhilarating."

I think of pole usage as a means of integrating/orchestrating movements of the body and the feet.
post #36 of 56
When we train slalom I spend a lot of time on pole plants. WC skiers use them 99% of the time. It's usually the first thing they do when in trouble.
Hands are balance adjusters. When you're racing a lot of adjustment is necessary. That D Teamer could maintain balance while waving his arms. It doesn't mean it's not easier to ski if they're quiet.Arcmeister likes to point out that they have weight and therefore can help keep weight forward if held forward. Ron LeMaster talks about the turning effect of pole planting and has a little mechanical bear to demonstrate it. He also talks about being able to have the center of mass outside and forward of the body.(check pictures in The Skier's Edge)If I see a hand out of place I look at it as a symptom, not a problem.
post #37 of 56
Nolo - try that exercise

The touch IS important - although it can be feather light. (Try IT with different duration & pressure in the finger touch)

It is just that unless you are at the point of failure you will not notice it.

Your body gets an awful lot of info & processes it at a quite subliminal level - YOUR conscious mind doesn't notice.
post #38 of 56
I'll give up my poles when they pry my cold dead fingers from around them. Did Charlton Heston say that?

Hand jive (of many types)is so critical--with or without poles--that I would never give it up--either as a teacher or skier.

Also, the snowboarders I talk to are very disciplined with their hands. I don't think they need poles because they're on one wide platform rather than two that have to coordinate together.

I think most of the problems in teaching pole and hand work are in lesson timing. Usually it's introduced as a separate subject and it causes immediate upper/lower body dyslexia. When it's blended carefully into other movements, at the right time, in the right place, then it's not so bad.

I always wear straps. It just feels right. I've got those Leki triggers so the straps tear away when the pressures on. (It's worked for me in the trees.) I love the supportive feel of the straps.

My latest advance in skiing (I mentioned this in a previous thread) was purely because of a change in pole/hand movement. At the suggestion of Tony Fry, Manager of the Aspen Mountain Ski & Snowboard School, I started carrying my inside hand in such a way as to lightly drag the pole on the up hill side, keeping the shaft of the pole at pretty much right angles (slightly less actually) to the ski. It gives me awareness about how far in I can go and it keeps my inside hand perfect. I think racers do this to a large extent in GS--with the obvious exception of when they pass the pole. Check out some of Ron LeMaster's shots. You'll see versions of this. Think about the logic of it: if you're really tipped inward (we're talking speed here) and want your hand forward to keep balanced, directed, and squared, it would be a weird twist of the wrist to keep the basket behind. It makes much more sense and is much more comfortable to keep pushing the pole ahead with the hand--as if it were on a handlebar. I feel that this keeps my body so well directed that I can really load the ski cleanly and fully.

Do I plant. Yes, when it feels right to stabilize the torso with a touch of the pole to give me a three point contact during the edge change. Do I plant all the time. Nope?

Do I do and teach a blocking pole plant. Yes, when it's useful. I just feel it's not all that useful anymore with the new gear, because the new skis initiate so quick. (I think I actually do it too much, because it's an old habit. But I'm workin' on it!)
post #39 of 56
Thread Starter 

I understand what you mean about the pole as a sensory extension and I think that's great. I'm sure you understand what I mean about using the pole as a lean-to.

I like Tony's tip, Weems. It sounds like something that could cure my chronic problem with my lazy left hand.
post #40 of 56
Originally posted by nolo:

I like Tony's tip, Weems. It sounds like something that could cure my chronic problem with my lazy left hand.
I'll tell you what... for me, it rebuilt my skiing. You know how you get a small thing that seems to reconnect the parts or allow a bunch of big things to happen better? This was one of those for me. It basically squared me up and allowed me to stop overangulating. What a difference in easy power to the ski when I do that.
post #41 of 56
Originally posted by nolo:
It's the swing and not the touch, the leading movement and not the stopping movement, that makes the pole swing integral. Expert skiing is "swinging." Fred Iselin and A.C. Spectorsky wrote in Invitation to Modern Skiing (1947, 1957, 1965):
I love the comment expert skiing is "swinging" and it is also singing. I have been know to have the class sing as we swing.

The old "drink a beer and is it the swing or the touch" discussion. Try this. Leave your poles sit and only "swing" where you normaly touch and see how it works. Maybe you will decide it is the touch and then again maybe we will open another cold one and talk some more. Personally with the new equipment we use today I have been know to forget to do either. It is really weird when you realize you are only carrying the stick instead of swinging it. Kind of like a few golf clubs in my bag!

I know nolo yours will a fine red.

Lifes too short to drink a bad red wine!

post #42 of 56
You may or may not be aware that the old books, like Iselin's, refered to "swinging" as 'turning' with a rounded swing. They were not talking about pole swing.

The term 'swing' for turn is still used today as in >short swing< which actually should be called >short turn<.

SCHWUNG is the German word for swing and means exactly the same, a smooth, rounded move, may it be in dance or in skiing.

post #43 of 56
Thread Starter 

The more I read Invitation to Modern Skiing, the more I realize that the more things change the more they stay the same.

Fred was talking about jazz. You know: you ain't got a thing if you ain't got that swing. Do-wah-do-wah.

Notice he didn't use the Irish jig as an analogy. Speaking of the Irish jig (think Michael Flatley and Riverdance), did you know that the reason Irish dancers keep their arms next to their sides is because when these dances were invented, homes had earthen floors, and the earth in Ireland is very clay-like, which dancing feet would make mud. So they would take down their wooden front door (often the only wood in the house) and use it for dancing. In some cases, they would dance on top of wooden barrels. So you see, there was a need to dance very compactly.

I suspect skiing has more than one dance in it, depending on the size of the floor.

[ October 05, 2002, 09:22 AM: Message edited by: nolo ]
post #44 of 56
The story I was told, by a Ceali Dance instructor at Milwaukee Irish Fest, was this. "The British outlawed the Irish culture,(language,dance, etc.)if your hands were at your sides(notice the Scottish dances feature lots of hand moves) you weren't dancing, only skipping along".

Fox, could you check in on this?
post #45 of 56
Thread Starter 
I went to a Gaelic music concert this week--where I heard a great percussionist play the hammer dulcimer and goatskin drums (please spell it for me, Fox)--and learned that tidbit. Maybe all history is rationalization after the fact, who knows?

Your explanation sounds like it might have been invented a few centuries after mine...
post #46 of 56
And I hear they call that "Blarney" in a lot of cultures. He who makes up the last story is history. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

post #47 of 56

Bohdran, pronounced bow, as in bow and arrow, -drawn, as in a trailer is drawn by a truck. Hope we're thinking about the same instrument.

post #48 of 56
Thread Starter 
That's it! And it's spelled like it sounds. Sorry about the hijacking. With Fox making himself scarce, I guess we've all got to pick up the slack.
post #49 of 56

Its your thread, if you can't hijack it who can?

post #50 of 56
I learned to ski without stocks during my 2nd year of Masters, it felt awful at first. But after a while I found it was the best way to correct myself when skiing badly...out of balance, not moving right. A few runs sans stocks, and everything came into alignment.
I've also found that since that, I don't get sore wrists from pole plants any more. I must have been blocking or jabbing...I certainly depended on pole plants to make my turns happen. skiing without stocks fixed that, and then my plants stopped being so violent.
I prefer to feel the strap looped under my hands, there's more of a control feeling happening.

I also fixed a bad habit wiht stocks; I was skiing with my hands too high and close to the chest, like a rabbit. Spent a season trying to fix it...I also had rear entry boots and found myself on my heels a lot. So I fixed both problems by buying stocks that were slightly short. I've still got them!
post #51 of 56
Bohdran - pronounced Bore (as in what I am) Ann (the girl's name). It's a very difficult instrument to play properly - I should know, I can't!

Ceilidh - pronounced Cale (as in Scale without the S), eee (as in key), or if you remember the Marillion song, Kayleigh, (the girl's name). An Irish party/shin dig.

As for the story behind Irish dancing, I would go along with Nolo's explanation more than Slatz's (things were around before the Brits invaded Ireland, or America was colonized )
As I have been told, part of the point of keeping the upper body still is to show the level of control and balance that the dancer has - try it sometime!

Hope this helps.

But since this topic was about hands and poles, I shall make a comment to bring it back on track after Nolo's hijack (and have you noticed how she ALWAYS does that! )...
I learnt without poles, and I find it difficult to use them under normal circumstances. I only find them useful when someone is in front of me in the lift line, and their rear binding has a big sign saying "release me" on it.

post #52 of 56
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Fox, for the transliteration and for saying:

"part of the point of keeping the upper body still is to show the level of control and balance that the dancer has - try it sometime!"

We often challenge ourselves by skiing without poles, but think of what we could learn by skiing without arms. This could be very challenging and Riverdance-like in the bumps and require intense finesse in powder and crud.

EDIT: This would not be a way to ski but a way to challenge the way we ski.

[ October 06, 2002, 12:18 PM: Message edited by: nolo ]
post #53 of 56
Thread Starter 
Back to the topic. Check out Bob Barnes's photomontages of bump skiing at

How would you describe the hand jive here? Do the pictures show what we've been reading in this thread about pole use in modern bump technique? If not, how can we improve the instructions?

P.S. There are some great resources in the Ski Training Center...
post #54 of 56
I see at least 1 blocking plant in each sequence. How about "plant as lightly as you can, but as heavily as you need to."
One great tip I got 2nd hand from Glen Plake was to try to plant the pole just past the crest of the bump. This makes the plant lighter and keeps the hands reaching. The zipperline guy in the 1st sequence is illustrating this in his second turn. Notice where his left hand plants vs where his right hand plants, and see how it corresponds to how far his hand is forced back. Not that it seems to make any difference with him! If I'm having a bad bump day, focusing on this usually helps. Almost as much as having another beer.
post #55 of 56
Don't listen to that D team guy. If he says poles are not important he has no idea what he's talking about. Your poles are where your hands are, if your poles aren't where they should be neither are your hands. Lazy hands tend to pull one into the back seat causing problems not only with balance but all the skills. The inside hand is the most important, keeping the uphill hand leading generally keeps the inside half of your body leading through your turns. And he says hands are not important...
post #56 of 56
Elbows away from the body and slightly above ones waist with ones fore arms ahead and in line with the elbows--more or less, poles retracted to the rear, ready for a pole touch or a plant if necessary. All of this helps keep the upper body to be quiet with the lower body functioning. I`m purposely trying not to be precise, instead to give an operating range. Ones poles become triggering mechanisms as well as stabilizers. There are other things that come into play--viz-a-viz cm, angulation etc. Not for this post, cause I gotta go!!!!!!!! [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
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