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Pole Planting

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Having read some of the Wedge Blocker Turn Thread and watched some of the mentiond Warren Smith video tips, I am wondering if the habitual pole plant, on all bar very steep or bumpy pistes, is a thing of the past. It only seems to promote the swinging of the shoulders. Am I barking up the wrong tree?

Woof woof


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Mon 16-04-07 7:31; edited 1 time in total
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Frosty the Snowman, pole plants are needed for short-radius turns, whatever the terrain. Thus, if you wanted to ski down a narrow strip close to the edge of a steep blue run or shallow red, in order to avoid out-of-control hordes attempting to carve across most of the width of the piste, you would need short-radius turns incorporating a pole plant.
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laundryman, not sure I agree with that. I probably do pole plant to assist timing in such a situation - but I don't think it's essential.
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achilles, desirable then!
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A pole "swing" can (should) be an integral part of any turn as it helps synchronise/enhance lots of other things. A pole touch, pole plant, or nothing at all might be at the end of this pole "swing".
The pole swing however has nothing to do with the shoulders, it comes mostly from the wrist, possibly a smidgen of elbow, and nothing more.
The pole tip moves, but not the hand ( or arm or shoulder...)
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Use of the pole defines the difference between good and less good skiers, IMV. If you are going fast and wide you might not need much but you'll still see them in front of the skier and hovering over the ground, at least. And when you get to steeper stuff...well, you better have them, a decent jump turn is nigh on possible without one.
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I am a boarder and I give my mate stick for having poles, he says they are needed to set the turn, so on my last trip we decided to watch skiiers to see who actually pole plants. Basically nobody pole planted, there were the odd flick, maybe a touch or dab, but generally the poles were just dragged through the turn and even just dragged the entire time. This was on the piste and runs of blue, red and even a black I think. Incidentally my mate dropped his poles of the chair lift once and had to ski back down to get them and he skied much better on the blue without them
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rayscoops, although I appreciate it may not be intuitive being a boarder, but poles and pole plants are an important aspect of more advanced skiing. I could get by without them, but I wouldn't ski as well in most situations. Expert skiers pole plant the whole time, see the video in the thread "carving fat skis" below.
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I refer the honourable gentleman fts, to the reply I gave some time ago, as part of the "Skiing Myth" series.

Maybe I should bump those myths back up the list sometime soon.

Skiing Myth #2 - We no longer pole plant in modern technique
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veeeight, how true. You can tell it's all gone to s**t in the rough stuff when the pole plants cease!
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I never pole planted until this season when I started skiing powder. Now I find process helps me with piste skiing.
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Frosty the Snowman, to tie the pole plant into the "wedge blocker" thread, if in short turns you try to plant the pole waaay down the slope and to the side, instead of the front of the skis, it helps you finish the turn.

If you then reach down the slope for the next plant nearly as soon as you've just finished the first plant, it helps move your weight/mass over the skis and down the hill. This assists to change both edges at the same time (and not get stuck on the old outside ski, which was the point of the blocker thread).

I may not have described this well, but I know what I mean rolling eyes
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Mosha Marc, But by reaching down the slope does this not encourage swinging of the shoulders?
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Frosty the Snowman, you're meant to reach down the slope though - not in your direction of travel - and if you help the reach by moving you shoulders/upper body that way too, you'll find you'll be angulating more.

Stand up and try it now Little Angel
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Frosty the Snowman wrote:
Mosha Marc, But by reaching down the slope does this not encourage swinging of the shoulders?


Only if you lose sight of the "other pole" that is NOT being planted.

I know because I sometimes do (lose sight of the other pole) and rotating my shoulder. Sad

Pole plant is not the cause of shoulder rotation. It's just the symtom.
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Quote:

Use of the pole defines the difference between good and less good skiers, IMV. If you are going fast and wide you might not need much but you'll still see them in front of the skier and hovering over the ground, at least. And when you get to steeper stuff...well, you better have them, a decent jump turn is nigh on possible without one.


Absolutely. To that I would add that skiing a good line through moguls is impossible without a strong pole plant that comes from the wrist and forearm not the shoulder. Although there is no great focus in the Warren SMITH (Mr Miller being a superannuated American ski movie director) video clips online, pole planting does feature greatly in the full DVDs and courses to improve upper body position, rhythm and turn strength. I also reckon it's the weakest point of most people's skiing (definitely in my case)
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To extend the topic - "The right length for a ski pole for skiing is the wrong length for poling"?
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fatbob, Puzzled
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I pole plant on virtually all turns except longer radius carved/sweeping turns (but even then I'll use the pole almost like a pointer to initiate the next turn) and when I'm feeling really lazy. I can't do moguls happilly without poles, I can't do jump turns easilly without poles, I find short radius turns far more easy and rythmical with poles.
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BGA, one of my weaknesses too, I can be a lazy planter at times Wink It's one of the things I try to work on the most, because it certainly makes a difference. When I get out of shape in the bumps, it's reassuring to get that next pole plant firmly in place. It's like having a reset button!
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Most people pole plant badly and this affects their upper body position adversly. ie: they allow the hand to drop back after they plant. Many peeps still "reach" for the pole plant (rather old fashioned unless on very steep). The pole should be at the end of your arm, and your arm position should not change noticeably because you are planting. First get the arm position cracked and then worry about pole planting. short radius is no problem without planting, I demo it every day. bumps OTOH are a different matter.
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petemillis wrote:
fatbob, Puzzled


Just something I noticed while playing around with adjustable poles. More leverage for poling in the flats etc is obtained by usings a longer pole - this is logical when you think of the length of cross country poles -but shorter for sking definitely helps you get forward. I ran them 5cm shorter still for telemarking and that seemed to help a lot.
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Quote:

The pole swing however has nothing to do with the shoulders

maybe it shouldn't have anything to do with the shoulders, but you only have to watch skiers from a chairlift to see that lots of people seem to do a lot of unnecessary swishing around with their poles, as part of a wibbling sort of style which they clearly think is the coolest thing on the slopes. Also lots of beginners cling on to them desperately like security blankets. I tried to persuade a friend who was doing this just to do without them for a few runs, and relax her arms. She was horrified, couldn't think of skiing without them. Madness. She wouldn't take a lesson either, so I gave up! I do think that instructors should encourage beginners to ski without poles, if only to give them less scope for stabbing themselves in a fall (one guy severed his femoral artery with a pole, in this resort 2 years ago. Fortunately the first aiders were up to scratch and the chopper not far away). I carry mine around, but am conscious of not doing anything very useful with them much of the time, especially as I don't voluntarily ski bumps. Maybe I shall ask easiski to teach me how to do bumps properly when I am in LDA next week (others have tried!)
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Gotcha Bob. Je comprend now Smile
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pam w

Well yes, but you could say this about lots of bits of skiing. Sit on a lift and watch people skiing and on the whole technically its pretty poor...but hey if they're having fun...
Quite agree that pole-planting can encourage but a bit of shoulder mincing but its not a reason not to do it. People need to learn to be accurate with movements, and the parts of the body where they occur. `good instruction will help to put these points across...
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Quote:

but its not a reason not to do it.

well, actually I think it is a reason not to do it an an early stage - it's just a distraction and one more thing to think about. There comes a time when it makes sense to start learning it, but if doing it wrong gets ingrained, it's just one more thing that needs to be re-learnt. I have two nephews skiing with me at the moment, both have come through the snowblades route (yes, I know, don't start....) and now both are on skis and not using sticks. They might have trouble in moguls, I suppose, or tricky off-piste, but they are both flashing round the piste very effectively, and the only time they seem to miss the sticks is in the lift queues, nothing to shove themselves along with. The only people who seem to be able to use poles really effectively are technically very able skiers, and how many of them do you see from a chairlift? I always feel I am not doing anything very useful with mine, that's for sure. And yes, offpisteskiing, it is now only a few days to my next bout of instruction, so hope springs eternal. I still reckon at least 50% of the skiers you see on the piste would be no worse off without the damn things and that they are a positive hindrance to a lot of adult beginners.
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pam w, maybe proper use of poles is something that should be taught at a very early stage - i.e.to help with getting from snowplough turns to fairly short parallel turns. And then progress can be made to wider carved turns where there is less reliance on pole planting. It sort of seems logical.

I may be mistaken, but at the moment it seems that people want to go from nothing, to snowplough turns, to bigger "sort of carved" turns. The bit in the middle with the poles seems to get missed out, so when someone has done snowplough, is trying to do carved, and then needs to do shorter parallel turns they dunno how to use the poles. And because they're already doing "sort of carved" turns they think they don't need lessons so won't learn how to do the short parallel and pole thing properly and subsequently think poles are dangly bits.
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petemillis, I was taught to pole plant as I went parallel. Problem was that I tended to let my pole stay planted - and my arm and shoulder dragged around with it. Really only became aware I was doing so under the vigilance of easiski.
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Quote:

I still reckon at least 50% of the skiers you see on the piste would be no worse off without the damn things and that they are a positive hindrance to a lot of adult beginners.


I've got to agree with that. I've always wonder why children learn to ski better is they start WITHOUT poles in children lessions! wink

But instead, I'm going to complain about the lack of pole planting instructions for intermediates:

I don't remember any group lesson I've taken that ever pay much attention to pole planting. It's simply left out of most lessons. Little wonder MORE THAN 50% of skiers had terrible pole planting techniques.

Ever in classes when the instructor ask "what do you want to work on?" "Pole plant", "Pole plant", "Pole plant"? I'm not the only student who recognize my pole plant is limiting my progress. Unfortunately, very little attention is paid to pole planting technique in the intermediate level instrutions. So we all develope every sort of wrong way to plant poles and the instructors pretty much gave up on trying to correct all those mistakes the peeps come with them!

They've got all sort of drills to get the peep to move they legs in every which way. None when it comes to pole plants.

To this day, I still ski better on groomers WITHOUT poles. I simply face donw the hill and let my legs do the trick. Once the poles are involved, they upset everything! So it's small wonder my technique falls all apart on moguls. I simply don't have an effective pole plant!

But the solution is not to ditch the poles. The solution is pay more attention to pole planting techniques much earlier on in the progression path.
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Here's 3 insights:

1. Get the correct leg/ski movements and sequenced first. Commit those to muscle memory. Before moving onto pole planting.

2. Many many many many many many many (get the idea?) recreational skiers lack the timing and co-ordination to successfully plant, and keep those skis sequenced correctly. Thus point (1).

3. Pole Planting as a topic, is one of the biggest can of worms to teach. Even amongst many many many instructors, there is a large lack of understanding of the principles, and application, from the importance of the pole strap and how this interacts with the oblique pole plant, right down to timing (is it the start of the turn, or the end of the turn), to the position and placement of the pole tip/basket according to terrain & turn.

Here are some short clips demonstrating some superb skiing and pole planting:

http://www.mytempdir.com/1296462

http://media.putfile.com/Good-Bumps

(it could be nit picked in the 1st vid that he drops his hands, but the caveat is that it doesn't affect his core/upper body)

(but you'll be pleased to know that as an instructor, when working on short radius, I have several drill progressions that incorporate the pole plants correctly)
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In my lessons my instructor demonstrates a pole plant to me and neatly turns around the pole in perfect control and at any speed he cares - from really slow upwards. Then he says now you try it rolling eyes I get the pole in the snow and then quickly have to remove it as my turn proceeds to take hugely more radius than the length of my arm!! Grrr...... Can skiers buy extendable arms Puzzled

Consequently as I ski (without the instructor) at the moment I tend to end up waving the pole at the snow but I rarely actually get it stuck in to any degree Puzzled

I too was stunned the first time the instructor suggested I did exercises with the poles (like the kids do) rather than planting them, or using them for reassurance/balance! and only very reluctantly went along with it. I was quite surprised to find that I could actually ski (although that might be overstating what I do on a snowy slope!) 'without' them.
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The link doesn't seem to work...
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I got both links to work OK - you have to wait for the first to download the file abc, and then click on the downloaded file name to play it.

Wow, will I ever get as good as those skiers? I doubt it!! Crying or Very sad
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Got it (the link to work)! Thanks Megamum.

Quote:

Even amongst many many many instructors, there is a large lack of understanding of the principles, and application, from the importance of the pole strap and how this interacts with the oblique pole plant, right down to timing (is it the start of the turn, or the end of the turn), to the position and placement of the pole tip/basket according to terrain & turn.


Ok, like much of skiing, there's always the different approach as to what's best in each situation.

But, until the majority of upper intermediates and early advance skiers get the BASIC pole planting mechanics down without rotating their shoulders, isn't the discussion of when and where is a moot point (to those of us)???

Speaking of "end" vs. "begining" of turn, I never do understand them. Isn't the end of turn usually the begining of the next turn?

As far as I can tell (from the video and on the slope), most skier tend do plant their poles about the time their CHANGE edge. Or is the controversy over timing regarding should it be BEFORE or DURING the edge change? (I have a hard time imagining planting poles AFTER the edge change)
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Megamum, there's more to pole-planting that just sticking it in the ground and trying to turn an arc with a radius the length of your arm. It helps with turn initiation and it aids in getting your body in the correct position to change edges. And on steep terrain and in moguls you can plant the pole aggressively, unweight both skisand almost "swing" or jump round the pole.
Some useful basic info on pole planting is here....
http://www.ifyouski.com/Technique/Alpineskiing/Intermediate/poles/
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petemillis wrote:
Megamum, there's more to pole-planting that just sticking it in the ground and trying to turn an arc with a radius the length of your arm.

With the exception of very tight moguls or jump turns on steep terrain, you would never swing around your pole with a turn radius as long as your arm. For me the pole plant is about triggering the actions which start a turn and helping to keep my upper body in good position (the fact that I don't use my poles enough explains why I can never ski with a 'quiet' upper body).
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Plant flowers, not poles.

Use your poles for a third point of contact with a gentle touch.

A hard plant is a corrective move, or possibly a tactical move as a lever to aid in rotation (typical, for example, in bumps).

Generally, poles are timing and balance devices, and any undue movement or abrupt change (as happens when you plant them) is more likely to hurt than help. I disagree that an aggressive plant is ever necessary as a required component of a turn. Skiing bumps without poles or using deliberate brushes instead of plants taught me that.

BTW, the pole touch should be a movement of the hand/wrist only. No arms necessary (although some for "style" is typical), and no shoulders because you don't want to misalign them.

Touch, don't plant. Timing, not mechanics.
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Quote:

As far as I can tell (from the video and on the slope), most skier tend do plant their poles about the time their CHANGE edge. Or is the controversy over timing regarding should it be BEFORE or DURING the edge change? (I have a hard time imagining planting poles AFTER the edge change)


abc,
petemillis', link suggests that the pole plant is just before the edge change. I did think the walking through exercise was well explained too - I was easily able to visualise the action from the pictures and text given.
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Quote:

I disagree that an aggressive plant is ever necessary as a required component of a turn.


Come ski some steeps with me. By that I mean around 60 degs (yes, the snow sticks because it's welded to the side of the glacier) - where with every (jump) turn you lose around 20-30 ft of height Shocked

You'd better have a rock solid aggressive pole plant if you want to survive! Very Happy
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OK some really in depth instructor techno babble (feel free to ignore) from an instructor forum regarding the pole plant. This was spurred by a drill....

As I've said earlier, this topic is a hugely complex one, and is not always readily understood by many instructors.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

The drill he introduces to rythmically pole plant is a good one. It's interesting to hear how he times the pole plant at the end rather than the start of a turn (which is probably where we tend to tell lower level skiers that it belongs) in order to block those naughty rotational movements.

With regards to his "blocking pole plant" - i also feel it's important that the pole plant should be a flicking type motion without any movement from the shoulders; ideally all wrist, and only a little from the elbow. Otherwise i've found the pole plant sometimes does more harm than good with regards to pivoting. Is this correct?

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I wouldn't say more harm than good but it should definatley come from the wrist/forearm as apposed to the shoulder.
Using the shoulder can lead to rotation...

From my point of view the pole plant DEFINATELY ends the turn.

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Rather than thinking of turns as a series of linked "C's", think of a turn as being from the fall line on one side to the fall line on the other. The feet should move fluidly along the arc from one fall line to the next, changing the edges on the skis when the feet crosses under the mass.

If you look at a turn from this perspective, the pole plant will occur in the completion of the turn. In this phase you are stopping the lateral forces from the snow that are causing the skis to turn by reducing the edge angle on the skis. The momentum of these turning forces on the body needs to be stopped as well, a blocking pole plant as described above will assist, therefore I agree that the pole plant occurs at the end of a turn.

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The transition begins when your body is released from the forces of the turn, and its momentum carries it in a straighter line than your feet are traveling. This is where the expert feels release and the illusion of acceleration. In the extreme, the skis pop, the feet fly to the outside of the new turn, and the body shoots down the hill in anticipation of the force that will develop when the skis engage the snow to make the next arc.

There is a particularly crucial moment in the transition. It is the point at which your center of gravity’s path crosses over the path of your feet. The skis at this moment are running straight and flat on the snow. Consequently, the more accurately the skier can sense the crossover point, the more easily he can turn his skis without unweighting to disengage them from the snow. For the same reason, it is the point at which the pole plant can have the greatest turning effect on the skier.

(Ron LeMaster, The Skiers Edge)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++
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