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Pole planting

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I have recently realized that I am 'having issues' with my pole planting. Specifically, I am planting out of time (at the wrong time / rhythm).

So, even though I am pretty sure I know the answers to the following questions, it would help to get others' opinions.

1 - Such that I can use as a reference to 'when am I doing it right'; When is the right time to plant for different radius turns? What are some cues (that I can use as a 'reference' for proper timing)?

2 - What are some techniques or drills (on or off snow) I could use to help me gain the 'memory' to do this right without having to think about it?

Thanks Guys! I am quickly becoming a strong skier and this is the kind of stuff I need to break that barrier.
post #2 of 21
For my $.02, I both agree and disagree with Pierre. Yes, the pole touch is minimal and you could live without it BUT when the hill gets steeper and uglier it adds stability and assists in moving your mass down the fall line.

Pierre is totally right with regards to cruising on moderate terrain. the pole touch is for rythym, but does not have to be much more than a flick of the wrist. You can get by fine without it. typically, iin this terrain and speed range, the skis to not come perpendicular to the fall line, and the hands and upper body 'follow' the skis with minimal lead change.

In steep terrain, however, a separation at the waist becomes more important. The skis come all the way across the fall line, but if you 'follow' them, you will come back uphill. In this case, a solid pole plant directly down the fall line aids in weighting the downhill edge, as well as keep you in the front seat. As the terrain gets steeper, the skis get closer to perpendicular to the fall line, and the pole plant becomes more important. Also, it's pretty important for the bumps.

As far as drills, the old plant-the-pole-and-turn-around-it will help. Another one I like to do is go to progressively steeper terrain and plant the pole in different locations, feeling the twist in my flab, uh, waist. Imagining a clock with my feet at the center,I plant my (right) pole at 1:00 on flat stuff, then 2:00 on medium, then 3:00 on steep pitches. for grins, try planting at 4:00 or 5:00 to feel the muscles move. When you're skiing cruising terrain, the concept is the same, but the plant is just a touch. If the hands are comfortably in front ant the basket actually hits the snow behind you, that's OK. The position of the hands is important, but don't _always_ drag them, use them!
post #3 of 21
I agree with AJ here. While what Pierre says is technically correct on paper, it's not so easily done on snow.

The arm swing is what is importiant here (when used, and when used correctly). Just swinging a pole and not making it have any effect on the body is useless. A person who is always in perfect balance and perfectly set up for the new turn may never need a pole touch, but that's none of us mortals. It aids in getting the body in the proper position to start a turn.

The actual touch of the pole tip to the snow is immaterial. However, we'll assume that it does happen when it looks like it should, just for clarification purposes. In other words, a lot of people look like they are doing a pole plant/touch, but the pole never actually touches the snow. However, again, the arm swing, and directional movement of the body is what is importiant.

The pole touch should happen at some point during the extension move into the new turn. Even if the move is not technically an extension move (for the techies who know the terms, it would happen during the cross over or cross under move during which the body's mass moves from one side of the skis to the other).

We'll go from one extereme to the other. In hop turns on super steeps, the pole touches (could be an aggressive pole plant here) the ground *just as the body starts* the move into the new turn. In huge, high speed GS carves, it happens just as the body reaches the extent of the forward move of the mass into the new turn.

The pole touch would progressively move later and later in the turn initiation as the turns get bigger and bigger. Also, the more carve that is involved, the later the pole touch would be. But in pure carve turns, it is very easy to completely disregard the pole touch.

I hope this helps without confusing anyone too much.
post #4 of 21
In my opinion, Pierre eh! is so right.

You don't need to plant or touch your pole at all through the learning curve up through level 7 or so. But remember to never, ever let your hands drop from in front, keep them up in your field of vision, a comfortable distance apart, kinda like a praying mantis. Never let your elbows swing or drift back behind your torso either.

Back in the day, 1960's, I remember instructors would sink down a bit in the ankles, knees, and waist at the end of a turn, then set their edges with a little push of the ankles. This is when they would plant the pole, at the edge set. Maybe this could be a useful exercise for timing.

Reread what Pierre said.

Skiing happens from the waist down, above the waist just remain focused in body and mind.
post #5 of 21
1)I'm not an instructor
2) Pole planting, or better said the lack of it, was the main reason I was not accepted
when I attended the Italian ski instructor
admittance test in...1992!
3) The standard drill of the Italian school is this (taught from level III to V, which is the max level attainable)
On a not so steep slope, proceed in straight line and bend your ankles and
knees (waist, this results in your upper body going up and down), while at the same time planting
the poles alternatively

Think what You say
Say what You think
but most important
once You've said it, DO it.
<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Nobody (edited January 16, 2001).]</FONT>
post #6 of 21
I'm not disagreeing with you Pierre. But I think you put the cart before the horse. Your 1st two sentences assume you already make good turns. Especially the 2nd sentence... "When your skiing becomes balanced and rythimic..." It's the arm swing and movement of the CM, aided and encouraged by the pole touch that allows someone to progress to a point where their skiing is balanced and rythmic.

In your last post you mentioned snowboarding and snow blades. The ONLY riders of that equipment that I have seen make rythmic turns are people with a skiing background that have learned to be rythmic before getting on the new equipment. As for balance, you can't stand up on those if you aren't in balance.

But re-read my last post. I fully agree that good turns can (and should be able to be) made without the use of a pole touch.

Getting back to Mack's original question. If he has a problem with his rythm, then correcting the pole touch could be a good way to get him in balance and to correct any timing issues. But not the only way, although it may be the quicker way. I don't know because I haven't seen him ski.

post #7 of 21
Try skiing with your poles dangling from the straps (don't hold on to them) and your arms sort of out to your sides. As you make the turns, watch what hapens to the pole. The touch should happen when the pole reaches its apex (you will see what I mean when you get on the snow and try it) Try it with differnt radius turns and watch the rythym the poles automatically adopt. This might help you with the timing. Remember, too, that is is not necescarry to plant the pole, it only needs to touch the snow.

post #8 of 21
Damn those Italian instructors, always thinking about what to do with their poles.
post #9 of 21
Bah! Pierre is right. Get shorter skis and lose the poles. I can't do that yet, though.
post #10 of 21
if you are carving correctly, you should not need to get shorter skis to lose the poles. I skied for many a season on dynamic VR17FM at 205 with no poles. Free up your hands for other things...<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by dchan (edited February 06, 2001).]</FONT>
post #11 of 21
I agree with Pierre also. Ditching the poles makes you much more aware of your upper body position, edge transfer, weight distribution etc.

No, you don't need short skis. For years I have ditched the poles now and then (especially the first few days of the season) to "get back to the basics" which is edge control which is dependent upon weight transfer which is dependent upon body position etc. I have done this for years on 203 slalom "straight skis". Seems to really help me with over all balance and weight transfer.

I have noticed that one of my problems has been that at times I drag my inside pole and actually end up almost leaning on it which gets my weight where it should'nt be and not set up for the next turn. Usually this happens when I'm getting tired. Kind of like using the pole as as crutch.

What's really fun is to ski on these new shaped skis (just got some 192 pilots) without poles making big high speed arcs and just "floating" from one ski, one turn to the other, feeling the g forces keeping you from falling over as you reach out to pet the dog...

All in all- sking without poles can make you a better skier by reinforcing the basics of edge control which is what skiing is all about. However, there are conditions where I want my poles for sure, aggressive bump sking, steeps etc.

It seems that racers do a lot of training excercises without poles or skiing with one ski to work on edge control.

post #12 of 21

My bad old habits come out when I am tired too. Although I don't drag my pole, I sometimes can get into the back seat slightly or lean uphill. I am getting better at recognizing this posture and finding my balance now. Maybe these things I do can help you or someone else. I make sure my feet are behind me in the belly of the turn. I make sure my shoulders are not tipped into the turn. I bring my hands up to a "ready" position and keep my poles in front. I tighten my abs a little bit and breathe audibly. Usually I can feel my quads relaxing in a couple of turns. Then I can just keep powering along.

Almost everywhere I have skied I have seen racers really reaching with their arms and poles. They look to be trying way too hard. I conclude that the best people to study for pole plants are the really good recreational skiers, instructors, and bumpers (the ones who rip zipper lines).
post #13 of 21
"Don't need no stinkin poles mon"

If it holds snow-It can be skied!
post #14 of 21
Ya I can relate to that stuff too. When we get tired we just get sloppy. With regards to your statement:
I make sure my shoulders are not tipped into the turn.

One of the best tips I heard years ago regarding this was "pour water out of your down hill ear" Basically just tipping your head can make a difference.

As I've gotten older though I've concluded that for me the best thing to do is take a break!

SkiOn...<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by AK (edited February 06, 2001).]</FONT><FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by AK (edited February 06, 2001).]</FONT>
post #15 of 21
If you are going to ditch the poles for EVERYTHING you need to go short.
post #16 of 21
If you ditch your poles for everything you won't have anything to lean on in the lift line.
post #17 of 21
I second Pierre,
You can ski anything, It's just harder. and even harder with longer skis. I skied the whole hill (avoided bumps just because I didn't like them) But I could ski them ok and it was a lot of work. I did this for 17-20 years on anything from 170's to 205's.. lift lines were the worst part about not having poles. I rarely needed poles for flats because I just got real good at skating.
post #18 of 21
Thread Starter 
Amazing how you guys can bring back a thread which I thought was dead... Either way, I 'm sticking with the poles, but my timing error was easily fixed. It was really an early season 'I'm not quite into the groove yet' thing. I've been working on it and it has really helped me in the bumps and the steep fall line skiing.
post #19 of 21
Jim O'D,
I guess it started as a fun thing to do when Ballet skiing was in rage and It helped not to have them. I just got better and better at it and was having such a great time I never went back to using poles. The other part was the friends I was skiing with did not push me at all. I was out skiing them so I didn't have a reference point or anyone to push me. After skiing with my cousin (much better skier than I) about 7 years ago I decided time to step up the skiing technique and decided I wanted to float through the bumps instead of struggle through them. The instructor said lose the rear entry boots and get poles. The rest is history.
<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by dchan (edited February 07, 2001).]</FONT>
post #20 of 21
Pierre Eh - there is a group of tele skiers at Alta who do not use poles. They call themselves tele freeriders and use big, fat downhill skis with the new generation of stiff tele boots.

They rip.
post #21 of 21
What I really meant was, if you ski as poorly as I do you need short skis to lose the poles.
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