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By Craig McNeil
February 2, 2005
Last week, we addressed the importance of using your ski poles whenmaking a turn. A proper pole plant will help set up for the turn as well as aid timing and balance.
Ideally, the pole plant should support what your feet, skis and lower body are doing on the snow. In advanced levels of skiing, the upper body needs to "counteract" what the lower body is doing. That means, when your feet and skis are going across the hill, your hips and upper body "counter," or face the direction of travel down the hill.
A proper pole plant can help with this upper-body counter. The action of countering with the hips and upper body creates a greater angle of the skis to snow underfoot, which provides better edge control.
Failure to counter with the hips will create a rotation as your upper body follows the direction of your feet and skis through the turn. Such an upper-body rotation in the direction of the turn contributes to skidding and a lack of edge control underfoot.
One of the best ways to determine if you are using ski poles properly and countering with the upper body is with a partner. Have the partner stand downhill about 100 yards. As you ski the fall-line toward the partner, they should be able to see your inner forearm on each pole plant that is made.
Hold your hands up and in front of your body to establish a "home base" position. With your hands up, the ski poles are to the sides with knuckles facing upward. Turn your wrist to open the inner forearm and bring the pole tip forward to touch the snow. (The tip of the pole should point well ahead of the pole plant.)
As you ski toward your partner, they should call out "yes" if you are showing your inner forearm or "no" if you are showing the back of your arm.
If you have been skiing any length of time, this move is more difficult when you are first making a conscious effort to show your inner forearm, so be patient. Having your partner vocalize "yes" or "no" provides immediate feedback. Try to increase the numbers of "yeses" on each series of turns you make.
Pole plant: 'Yes' position
• Begin from your "home base" position, hands held wide and to the side.
• Advance the ski pole from the wrist and "counte" with the body.
• Each time you plant a ski pole, you should be able to see your inner forearm.
Enlist a partner
• Have a partner stand about 100 yards downhill.
• Ski the fall line and make quick, consecutive turns toward the partner. On each turn, the speed and radius should be consistent-not too fast, not too slow.
• If the partner sees the inner forearm, they will call out "yes." If the partner sees the back of your foreman, you should be hearing "no." Vocal commands should be loud enough for the skier to hear an immediate feedback.
Pole plant: 'No' position
• The natural tendency is to allow the upper body to rotate, or follow, your lower body through the turn.
• On quick, short radius turns, showing the back of your forearm to your partner generally indicates a failure to "counter" with the upper body.
• Allowing the upper body to follow your feet and skis, or to rotate through the turn, leads to a lack of edge control.
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