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To pole or not to pole?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
As a children's instructor, I'm constantly confronted with the question of "Should my child have poles?" Actually, I'm more frequently presented with the question "Why isn't my child using the poles I rented?"

My answer to the question is that until a child is consistently doing parallel turns, poles are unnecessary. More than that, for a younger child, poles will be a distraction as a beginner. He's learning to use these weird boards on his feet... why give him a pair of strange sticks on top of it? 

On top of that, I have to spend all day standing in close proximity to a group of uncoordinated small children on skis that they can barely stand on. I figure that's dangerous enough. Giving them each a pair of pointy poles just goes against all instincts of self-preservation I have ever had.

Any other thoughts or experiences with this, from other instructors or parents?
post #2 of 8
If they're going to ski with poles, they may as well start out with poles and learn to balance with them.  I never had a problem with poles with any of my kids.

I can see where it would be a danger in a class with one instructor and several kids, as opposed to one or two children per parent.
post #3 of 8

Having been through poles/no poles with my son, I'd just say parents shouldn't worry about it. At some point kids will want to start using them because that's what all the big people are doing. Then, your only concern is dropped poles. But there's a huge benefit in that they can start pushing themselves across flats.  My son skied great without them, and I thought took a little step back in terms of position once he started using them. But it all straightened itself out. If they're out there, with an instructor, having fun, they'll learn to ski just fine. Your only problem will be keeping up with them in a couple years.

post #4 of 8
freeski919,

I agree with your general assessment.  With smaller children poles often complicate the situation and can get in the way with some drills done you may do with them.   They may try to use them improperly to stop.  The best time to start using them is when the child needs them to accomplish a task or to progress in skill development.  Think about the skills you are working on with the child and introduce them when they are needed or helpful in the skills development. 

I think that they don't really add anything from the getting around, or non-skiing, perspective, either. With truly small children who are beginners, they aren't going to be able to use them effectively to help get across the flats and they would be better off learning to skate or even shuffle.
 
But, here's another reason: chairlifts.  Child gets on chairlift.  Child starts to drop poles.  Child reaches for pole.  Child drops poles.  Child tries to grab poles. Child follows poles.  Bad outcome.  

Smiles
post #5 of 8

Yup, I lectured my son as soon as he started riding the chair:

"What do you do if you drop something?"
"LET IT GO!"

Our policy is we don't get angry if he drops something, we find it, replace it, whatever. Just let it go.

post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiSmiles View Post

freeski919,

I agree with your general assessment.  With smaller children poles often complicate the situation and can get in the way with some drills done you may do with them.   They may try to use them improperly to stop.  The best time to start using them is when the child needs them to accomplish a task or to progress in skill development.  Think about the skills you are working on with the child and introduce them when they are needed or helpful in the skills development. 

I think that they don't really add anything from the getting around, or non-skiing, perspective, either. With truly small children who are beginners, they aren't going to be able to use them effectively to help get across the flats and they would be better off learning to skate or even shuffle.
 
But, here's another reason: chairlifts.  Child gets on chairlift.  Child starts to drop poles.  Child reaches for pole.  Child drops poles.  Child tries to grab poles. Child follows poles.  Bad outcome.  

Smiles

All good advice for everyone, adults included. Take out the word may and insert will in the above highlighted line and you get most 1st time skiers, Get rid of the poles and this issue never happens. Once a person has been shown how to stop with their feet/legs they won't use pole to stop.  Also great call on the chairlift scenario, some of the worst near miss disasters i.e. loading a chair and not falling off I have seen have come from beginners trying to get on with poles.

Just as bad are parents with their young children trying to get on with their child and trying to manage their own poles even if the kids don't have any. Triple and quads are the worst, parent turns to help one small one and bonks the 2nd child with their poles.Get rid of the poles when your out with little ones who are just learning. 

Drop the poling on the flats and replace it with skating, that's a skill that will help ones skiing immensely, if an upper body work out is needed hit the gym.
post #7 of 8
Pretty much identical to my opinion on the subject.

Plus they sometimes think they're meant for swordfighting.
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Running joke amongst instructors: How do you teach (insert problem child) how to stop? Have him cross his tips and insert his pole between them. But seriously, using poles to stop= broken ribs. Bad equation, typically.
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