How very interesting a topic!
When coaching you spend a lot of time skiing around with something else in my hands (gates, drills, etc), so frequently I would just leave my poles somewhere. In between schlepping and having left my poles elswhere, I've done a lot of skiing miles without poles. I think that as a result my skiing mechanics have become independant of, to the point of being indifferent to, my poles most of the time. So I tend to be lazy about their use unless something demands their involvment.
When someone notices and reminds me (this omission attracts attention) I can present their use in some classical image aparently intigrated into my skiing. But I then feel like I am pretending they are contributing something they are not. When they are brought up, I pay attention for a while amused that I sometimes use them, and sometimes not (based on planetary alignment for all I can tell).
I used to feel they were intigral to my short turns, until I got on skis my feet could turn quicker than my hands really wanted to whip my poles to keep up (and then have to stop the whip).
We have traditionally identified poles with several uses:
Timing device: Primary or complimentry? (My primary's in my feet).
Lead the CM into next turn: Maybe, if you don't release it by releasing your edges with your feet?
Balance: Crutches for skiing with underveloped balance skills? Milage on snowblades has even diminished this function for me.
I teach beginners without them so they can't use them as crutches and develop skier specific balance quicker.
I used to blather that if your poles were not working for you, they were working against you. But I'd change it to be if they are working against you, they are not working for you. (Duh?)
I do suspect my traditional approach to bump skiing is probably habitually over-dependant on them and needs revamping.
I'd be in favor of everyone deciding to do (or not do) whatever they want to with them. I don't think we are somehow bound to the traditional image of skiing with a coreographed pole swing, but some people like it. I know we've been trained to expect to see it, appreciate when it is used well, and dis it when it is sloppy. So would a good rule be to use them well or not at all? (nah!)
But I think I would feel... ah, different without them. (oh no!)
I do like them for navigating lift lines and opening my bindings. And they are great in the lift line for nonchalantly planting between the feet of the urchin trying to weasel around you in the lift line. But I'm thinking form should follow function (as when we are leaning on them).
Yes, it is after three am, but I got home from my annual fix from the new Warren Miller movie "STORM" about one and was too cranked to sleep. And ya know, I don't remember noticing what any of the skiers in the flick were doing with their poles (though I did notice they were great with their feet).
[img]tongue.gif[/img][ November 09, 2002, 01:33 AM: Message edited by: Arcmeister ]