Learning to ski requires falling into snow, figuring out how to use your skis, and seeing other people slide past you and wondering how on earth they do it.
Over and Over again.
As a result, if there’s anything that new skiers can do to make learning easier then they’ll jump on it. Oftentimes, that means beginner skiers wonder if they can ditch the metal poles they’re holding in their hands. After all, a new skier likely won’t understand the use for poles while they’re struggling to make it down the bunny hill, and it’s easy to see why a skier who is falling over and over again might think that there is something better to do with their hands than hold two poles that they don’t know how to use.
The Mammoth Bound team wants to make your learning curve easier, so we’ve written everything you need to know about ski poles below. Check it out ahead of your first day on the snow at Mammoth Mountain!
What Ski Poles Are For
It may be hard to understand if you don’t know how to turn on skis, but ski poles do help when turning.
Once you get beyond doing pizza and French fry on your skis, you make turns by putting your weight onto their edges. Since the edges and body of your skis are thin, there is only so much area you can spread your weight out over. Ski poles help by giving you somewhere to shift your weight off of quickly as you move into your next turn instead of relying only on your skis.
Once you get to making turns, you’ll quickly learn that it’s important to not put too much weight on your poles. If you do, they may sink too deep into the snow and throw you off balance or not stick in far enough and push back against you. Those type of crashes can be serious if you’re skiing at high speeds, so make sure you practice your turns with poles!
Is There a Time You Don’t Need Poles?
There’s a reason ski schools all over the world have new skiers learn how to ski with their ski poles in hand.
Most skiers will always need their poles since they’re an important part of every kind of skiing. However, there are a few situations where you wouldn’t ski with your poles. The most likely is when you’re learning and are still getting your feet under you. In that scenario, an instructor might have you take a run without your poles while you get used to balancing on skis. Still, once you’re past plow turns your poles will be an important piece of your ski gear, so don’t get used to skiing without them.
Skiers also may not use poles while in the terrain park since mobility and balance are the most important things there. Although most skiers do still ski with their poles in the park, you may see some who are working on learning a difficult rail or arial leave them on the ground.
Poles are Useful for More Than Just Turning
If you ever run out of speed on the flat part of a run, then you can use your poles to push yourself forward without stepping out of your bindings. You can even use one of your poles to pull someone else who has stalled out. You can also use your poles to get the attention of someone, mark the site of an accident, or point towards something.