Originally Posted by Arthrogrian19
The question is: What tips do you have for skiing powder without poles? Are poles really necessary for skiing in deep powder?
Poles help with timing, rhythm and balance, but you can compensate with a little extra concentration and awareness of your body position. I've read lots about poles vs. no poles, but very little about proper form without poles. I'd love to hear the juicy tidbits of wisdom from the instructors specifically for improving sans poles technique.
But in the meantime, here's some amateur thoughts that helped me get more comfortable w/o poles.
1) Stay forward. The "reaching out" to make pole plants helps with upper body positioning. Adapt by keeping arms and elbows out in front of your body. If you can't reach out with your arms, then "reach out" with your head/shoulders. I initiate turns by tipping my upper body down the fall line (to the inside of my next turn) during the unweighting process and legs/skis magically follow.
2) Avoid backseat: keep your knees over your toes. Your shins should press firmly against the tongue of your boot. A common problem with no pole novices is getting too backseat. I rarely see "leaning too far forward" problems, but routinely see the opposite (poles or no poles). That said, if I see a drift or rise coming up (something that may throw me frontseat), I'll go a bit backseat and extended as I enter it, then as my skis slow down, I bend my knees again and my upper body catches back up. If you find yourself backseat in pow, drive knees forward, toes up to close ankles, and bend forward at waist. This move drives tips up, which will momentarily slow your feet down letting your upper body catch up and get back over your boots.
3) Find your rhythm. Pole "walking" in pow establishes rhythm and fluidity. When poleless, I use the weighting/unweighting of turns to establish a rhythm to link turns. Poles or no poles, linking turns is essential.
4) Don't go straight - always be in some sort of turn. Poles help with balance (think tightrope walker). Arms forward/lean forward addresses fore/aft balance problems. Use the Gs of carving to maintain side-to-side balance.
5) Maintain a strong "inside half". My inside arm is usually raised and extended toward the center of my turn radius. My outside arm is brought in closer to the body (but still forward). Commit your upper body (center of mass) to the inside of your turn, and you'll carve more and skid less.
I'm far from an ideal role model, but here's a steep-shallow-pow clip sans poles. I'd love to hear what I could be doing better.
Poles can be really helpful, but far from required. Just go for it!