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Planting too deep?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I was skiing some nice, soft chutes between KT-22 and Headwall chair at Squaw on Monday and kept planting my pole too deep. The snow was soft spring snow but had a bit of a frozen crust on top. While making tight turns in the throat of the chute, I often planted the pole over a foot deep and that resulted in my uphill hand being pulled back and opening up my stance way too much.

I tried planting "softly" but I couldn't seem to find a happy medium. Each plant was either not hard enough to set up my turn or so hard that it sunk.

I'm using relatively small baskets but I doubt bigger baskets would have helped. I don't notice this problem in light snow as, I'm guessing, a deep pole plant comes out of light snow effortlessly and doesn't pull that arm back. Any advice?
post #2 of 8
My advice is to practice pole touch rather than pole plant, even it the steepest/narrowest stuff and bumps as well. You seem to have 'too much' balance directed to your pole(s) when they touch the snow when it should remain on your skis/feet. Speed/direction control can still come from turn shape even in the tightest of situations.

Remember, a pole plant is a stationary thing as your skis continue down the hill. Any balance committed to your 'pole plant' is balance committed to a stationary spot and will pretty much get you out of balance. Ideally pole use helps 'direct' your body to where you feet are going to be rather than actually serving as a platform of any kind.

you did ask for 'advice.' I have no way of knowing if you want anything more (or less) detailed than the above, or any 'activities' to help out with what you are asking about.
post #3 of 8

As someone who wondered what to do with my poles for many years, perhaps I can comment from my experience.

"Planting" the pole is really only required if you misjudge you own actions and feel that you are going over the bars. Turns, even turns in steep tight conditions, are timed buy the pole touch. Lately, I have been assisting this feel, buy keeping my hand loose and open around the pole grip. This very light grip suggests a very light touch. " Flick" is a good image for pole action.
Now, in the event that I feel a disturbance of my balance such that some assistance from the pole is needed, It is easy and fast enough to tighten up that grip and brace with the arm.
Last spring, skiing in Colorado sun rotten snow, there were places where I could push the pole in up to the grip. This is much like the condition you were experiencing. The snow was heavy and when I leaned on my pole, I got no goodness in return.

Balance is the key.

As in mogul skiing, to turn around a blocking pole plant is inviting a trip into the back seat.

Try skiing the same chutes with no poles. Boarders do it all the time.

All I can say is lighten up!

post #4 of 8
Another "practice" for lightening your pole touch: hold the poles a couple handwidths below the grip and make "phantom" pole touches.
post #5 of 8
I used to have a problem with over reliance on the pole plant. My poles would sink too deep and throw me into the backseat, plus the pole baskets were constantly getting trashed (not to mention the occasional sore wrist). After a few off seasons of dryland practice on asphalt hills with my rollerblades (using regular ski poles) my problem disappeared. I learned to lighten up to a pole touch because the pavement was just way too hard to accomodate anything else.
post #6 of 8
Every time I do parallel turns on breakable crust, I end up under it. Ditto the pole. I learned the hard way that the safest way out is to do stem cristies whenever I am on thin crust with soft snow under it.

Those don't require any pole plant, because your whole body is blocked by your stance. What happens is you never spend enough time on one edge to break the crust (the other ski is flat in an ideal stem christie turn) - and then you switch edges, carry your body weight over, and start cutting the crust in a different direction.

Whereas with parallel skiing on crust, not only do you sink your poles - which may dislocate your shoulder too! - but you also drive two parallel knives in the same direction across the icing. With such a narrow platform between them, it will inevitably break.
post #7 of 8
Planting your pole hard, or deep, is because you are using your poles as a crutch. Such a pole plant is referred to as a "blocking pole plant". It's a crutch in the sense that it gives you something solid to hold on to and from which to begin the rotation necessary for the turn.

My advice? Ski without poles on some easy bumps for a while and learn to use your feet (first) then legs (next). It'll make a world of good.

post #8 of 8
You are most likely using thr pole plant to "block" or stop the motion from your turn preparatory to beginning the next. It also happens to function to allow you to convert the energy from one turn into a vertical up movement at the beginning of the next. You could bust your skis out of the stuff and swivel them while in this semi weightless state. It works..... (oh heresy!)except in these conditions it doesn't!
Try WV's advice and practice without poles so you can't! Try to finish your turns on the steep by turning them into the hill by turning your feet as necessary. Instead of feeling you must stop the energy or move upward at the end of the turn, try to keep the energy moving down the hill. As you complete your turn, allow your body to (continue to)move down the hill across your (turned)skis. With a little practice you will discover this makes it easier to start the new turn without the need for popping upward (if that is indeed what you are accustomed to doing). As you become more comfortable doing this and start skiing with your poles again, a light pole TOUCH will help you gauge your movement and tining in this balancing, movement game.
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