If you are hoping to pursue a snow sport, chances are that you are going to need extremely specific equipment to go with that sport. Whether it is snowboarding or skiing, there are certain tools and pieces of equipment that you need and that are necessary for you to thoroughly enjoy and stay safe during the sport.
Much in the same way as you wouldn’t head out to play tennis without a tennis racquet, you wouldn’t ski without ski poles. In this article, we are going to look at how you can find the perfect ski poles for yourself.
Why Do You Need Ski Poles?
When you think about skiing, the first thing that comes to mind is someone looking really cool seemingly gliding atop the snow-covered hills, with skis attached to their feet and ski poles perfectly at their sides. If this is the image that is conjured to mind, then this is completely correct. Ski poles are a part of skiing, it is one of the sport’s identifying features, and if you think about a sport that involves snow without ski poles, chances are that you’d think about snowboarding.
There are many factors and variables to consider when using ski poles, and you may even come to learn that it is very possible to ski without ski poles. If you look at a ski resort or somewhere where people are racing on the side of a slope, you may see a variety of people without any poles in their hands. In many cases, the scene may seem out of sorts, especially when you see professional skiers coming down a hillside without any ski poles at all.
But what would impact a person’s need for ski poles, and why would someone not necessarily use ski poles?
Contrary to what you might think, ski poles are not necessarily a must. But there are benefits. These are the reasons why you may need ski poles:
- When you have ski poles, it makes turns and other maneuvers more precise and easier. It allows you to move in one fluid motion rather than experiencing choppy and disruptive movements.
- It helps you time your turns better making sure that the second you plant your pole into the snow, your body and skis follow suit in the turning motion.
- It also provides you with the balance that you undeniably need when you are turning and pivoting, making sure you don’t overcorrect and end up face-down in a heap of snow.
Skiing is a sport that is often started in one’s younger years and progresses with age. It is a sport that many pursue from an early age. In many cases, young children may not begin skiing with ski poles, but they would rather start using ski poles at around the age of six to seven years. Poles help you maintain balance, and when you have something providing you with support through turns, it makes the entire experience more enjoyable.
However, you probably can notice that many individuals, especially pro-skiers, use poles, even though it may hinder the aerodynamics of the competition. However, it provides superior turn assistance, giving them precision, which is crucial for a successful finish.
The Benefits Of Ski Poles
Ski poles can provide you with balance and stability, it can allow you to move across a lateral plane with greater ease, provides ease when navigating inclines that prove to be challenging, and most notably, it can help you up when you fall down, specifically in deep powdered snow.
How To Find The Perfect Size Ski Poles
Unfortunately, choosing the perfect ski poles go beyond just finding the right size, and although you will learn how to find the best size ski poles for you in this article, it would be remiss if you did not know all the functions and purposes that your ski poles are supposed to fulfill.
When sizing your poles, the first thing you are going to keep in mind is that poles are usually measured in two-inch increments. This means that you will find lengths that increase by two inches only. The next thing you need to know is that your ski poles are going to be fitted for when you are skiing, not for when you’re walking around in jeans and sneakers. This means that when you have your ski poles fitted, ideally you should be wearing your ski shoes and snow boots – exactly what you’d be wearing just before heading down a slope.
Now you can begin measurements. With the ski pole upside down and the hand grips firmly on the ground, hold the ski pole just below the basket so that the tip of your thumb makes contact with the basket. The basket of the ski pole is the round disc-like part toward the bottom of the ski pole (when it is right way up) that serves as a stopper preventing the entire pole from sinking all the way into powdered or soft snow. In this position, with the pole still firmly upside down on the ground, your arms and elbows should be at a perfect 90-degree angle. If the angle is greater than 90 degrees, you may need to consider getting longer poles, and if the angle is smaller, you may need a shorter pole.
If you still find yourself uncertain, there should be a sizing chart available that can guide you regarding the pole length that is ideal for your height.
Aside from the actual pole fit, there are other things to keep in mind about a ski pole for it to be fit for purpose. First, it needs to be strong and sturdy. If you are going to use it to pivot and turn when you’re racing down a hill, you need to know with confidence and certainty that it isn’t going to bend or snap. Then, in addition to being strong, it needs to be light. Imagine skiing down a slope with two boulders attached to your arms. This would be uncomfortable on a normal day but holding your ski poles at a 90-degree angle can be tiring. It also needs to be flexible and sturdy enough to handle falls and the rough terrains that it will inevitably face.
How To Use Ski Poles
Essentially, ski poles are assistive tools that are visualized as an extension of one’s arms and that provide additional balance and support. Your ski poles also need to be held in a natural position. If you feel like you are straining, then your poles may need to be adjusted.
Now that you are ready to use your ski poles, you realize that like an orchestra conductor or music director, your ski poles make a composition of beautiful music to form and create an elegant piece of art. A masterpiece of you gliding swiftly and smoothly down the untouched planes of a hillside or mountainside.
A unique blend of balance, rhythm, timing, and accuracy all culminate into a single motion while providing the skier with unparalleled support. Rhythm and timing are important when using your ski poles to propel yourself forward on the slopes, especially if there isn’t a great enough incline for gravity to provide assistance. The timing and rhythm of when your ski poles meet the snow are important when it comes to turns as it helps your body’s center of gravity adjust and flow with the movement.
Despite the importance of getting the perfect fit ski poles, it is always important to remember that beginners and young children are not always required to use ski poles. In fact, when you are a first-time or beginner skier, you will learn to ski without any poles at all. This is important for technique and know-how so that when you do progress to using poles, it is just added support to already existing skills. In this sense, ski poles just refine the already-established skill that you have developed as a beginner skier.
When you have passed the initial learning phase and you are confident that you would be able to ski if you ever find yourself in a position where you don’t have ski poles, this is when you can begin shopping for ski poles. I know this may seem counterproductive, but it is effective in making the entire skiing experience far more enjoyable.