The ski pole is a piece of ski equipment that has evolved through the centuries. In Sweden, archaeologists have discovered ancient rock carvings, which depict men on skis, using a single pole. It is believed that the ancient ski pole evolved from the walking stick and may have been made from a hunting bow. Some historians believe that the ski pole also doubled as a hunting spear.
During the Colorado Gold Rush, skis were used as a form of transportation. As shown in the photo below, only one pole was used, and breaking momentum was its only purpose. If the skier needed to stop, he simply planted the pole into the snow, right between his legs. During this time period, women also used skis as a form of transportation. However, since they always wore dresses, you can imagine the limitations of this stopping mechanism.
Today, ski poles serve an entirely different purpose. With the exception of backcountry skiing emergencies, ski poles are not used for stopping. However, they can be useful in many other circumstances.
Ski Pole Purposes
Ski poles have many uses in modern ski technique. The pole touch helps keep your upper body facing down the hill and helps keep your weight forward. This keeps the skier out of a position known as the "backseat," an alignment that can lead to serious knee injuries. When properly executed, a ski pole touch can signal the timing of a turn initiation. This can help the skier maintain smooth, smooth rhythmic turns.
Some people compare ski poles to the whiskers of a cat. They can be used to enhance proprioception. A pole touch can let you know if there is a rock in your path, or if there is some ice that is lurking under the packed powder. In whiteout conditions, some skiers find that dragging their poles through the snow can help them stay balanced. In this type of scenario, the physical feedback from the poles can compensate for the lack of visual feedback.
Ski Pole Anatomy
The ski pole handle is known as the grip. It is ergonomically designed with indentations for your fingers. The ski pole strap can be adjusted to fit your hand size.
The ski pole shaft may be composed of aluminum, graphite or composite materials. Skiers who prefer a lighter pole sometimes favor the composites. The tip and basket is found at the end of the ski pole shaft. The basket keeps the pole from getting stuck in the snow.
Types of Ski Poles
While most skiers use a straight pole, ski racers use a curved pole which shapes around the body while the racer is in a tucked position. These types of poles minimize air drag.
Backcountry skiers often use a telescopic pole, whose length can be adjusted to suit slope steepness and snow conditions.
Ski Pole Sizing
To find the proper length, turn the ski pole upside down. Assume a skiing stance, and place your hand directly under the pole basket. Your forearm should be at a 90-degree angle. If it is not, choose a different length. However, if you've fallen in love with with a particular type of pole and the shop does not have the correct length, provided that the pole is too long, you may be in luck. Some shop technicians know how to shorten a ski pole.
Article Written By Lisa Mercer
In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.