It’s fair to say that no other piece of skisport equipment has caused as much debate and uncertainty – at least in the minds of skiers and snowboarders – as the downhill ski pole. This is largely because of the way it is designed and how differently it is used compared to other ski poles.
On one hand, the design of the pole is unarguably beautiful. It features a ‘V’ shape that gives it a bit of an athletic look. You are also probably familiar with the way downhill skiers use their poles during a run. When the skier is skiing faster than the terrain is declining, the pole is held almost vertically in front of the ski mount to create more lift and drag.
On the other hand, the shape of the pole has caused a lot of problems for the sport. It’s significantly bent when it is laid on the ground, and this has led to many curious questions from beginners.
Let’s take a quick dive into how the downhill ski pole works and examine the main reasons why it is shaped the way it is.
How Does It Work?
We usually think of a ski pole as being an extension of the arm when we use it during a ski lesson or a race. In this case, it helps the skier or snowboarder balance themselves while skiing or snowboarding. It also gives them more stability on the mountain because they are not using their hands for balance.
However, there are other ways for a ski pole to help a skier or snowboarder. If you look at the top of the pole, you will see a red dot. This is where the rubber tip of the pole connects to the shaft. As the name suggests, this is where you will find the ‘tricky’ or ‘hazardous’ area of the mountain. When you are skiing there, your eyes should be set on the peak of the mountain, not on where you are facing.
To put it simply, a ski pole is a piece of equipment that you will need to learn how to use properly. Like any other piece of sports equipment, it requires proper form and technique to be used effectively and safely. This article will teach you everything you need to know about skiing and snowboarding with a bent downhill ski pole.
Why The Bending Shape?
The main reason why the downhill ski pole is bent is to make it fit better in the hand of the skier or snowboarder when they lay it on the ground. It’s a classic ‘form follows function’ situation, and the designers of the sport knew that the pole’s design would make it easier for beginners to hold it properly and prevent injuries to the wrist or elbow.
Another important factor contributing to the design of the pole has to do with the way gravity works during a fall. The taller the pole, the more difficult it is for the skier or snowboarder to correct their fall. This is because as the pole gets higher, the skier or snowboarder will naturally arch their back more. In other words, the longer the pole, the more it will bend towards the ground during a fall. So the designers of the sport wanted to create a shorter and more curved shape to prevent injuries and enhance safety for beginners.
The Importance Of Technique
Like any other piece of sports equipment, the way you use a ski pole effectively is more important than what the equipment looks like. This is because the way the equipment is used will determine how it is going to perform. So you need to make sure that you are using it in the correct way and with the right form. This is the only way you will be able to enjoy the benefits of the equipment without risking injuries.
One of the most common mistakes made by newbies is grabbing the pole with their hands before their wrist is completely straight. When you do this, it puts unnecessary strain on the wrist and elbows. This is why most ski instructors – even those specializing in teaching beginners – will tell you not to touch the pole with your hands before your wrist is in line with your body. You should also avoid using your hands as a support when skiing because this puts more stress on the joints. Instead, find a natural position that makes you feel comfortable and secure while skiing.
Another important factor to take into consideration is the way you stand with your feet when using a ski pole. Instead of having your heels closer to the mountain, your skis should be closer to the front. The reason behind this is that when you are skiing down a hill, the shorter the distance between your heels and your skis, the more your body’s center of gravity will be closer to the ground. In other words, your center of gravity will be raised, making you more stable while also decreasing the danger of tumbling.
Types Of Injuries From A Bent Downhill Ski Pole
If you are new to the sport and are not familiar with how to hold a pole correctly, then it is important to be aware of the injuries that can occur from a badly-held or used pole. In light of this, here are some of the most common injuries you might encounter:
- Elbow Injuries – These are probably the most common injuries from a bent downhill ski pole. The long and the short of it is that if you overuse or abuse your elbow while skiing, it will become weak and the pain will become quite severe. So it is essential that you learn how to properly hold a pole while also engaging in the sport. In most cases, the elbow injury is caused by overuse and not from one specific incident.
- Wrist Injuries – These are another common type of injury from a bent downhill ski pole. Just like with an elbow injury, if you overuse your wrist while skiing, it will become weak and eventually cause discomfort. The good news is that just like with the elbow, this can usually be avoided by using the proper form when holding the pole.
- Abrasions – The last type of injury we will discuss here is the dreaded abrasion. This is when the skin is actually rubbed and torn off the underlying muscle. While most of the time it is caused by a skier rubbing their stomach or leg against a certain part of the ski gear, it can also be caused by a fall on a smooth surface or hard object.
How Do I Hold It Correctly?
When you are holding a ski pole, it should feel natural and not like you are trying to ‘force’ it into position. There are several positions you could hold the pole in, but try to find one that feels the most secure and natural for you.
The best position is the ‘Parallel’ one. In this case, your wrist, elbow and shoulder are all at the same height, which creates a straight line from the top of the pole to the ground. In this position, your wrist will be in line with your body and your elbow should be slightly bent. Your thumb should point towards the sky to prevent any strain on your arm while keeping the pole stable in front of you. Your legs should be slightly spread as you raise your heels in the air. This will distribute your weight more evenly. In other words, it will make the pole more stable and decrease the chances of you falling.
Once you have gotten used to holding your wrist in this position while skiing, you should try to hold the pole in this way every time you ski. Doing this will help prevent most of the injuries discussed above. Of course, the only way to prevent all the injuries is by never hitting the mountain, but that is not always possible.
One of the biggest problems with a badly-held pole is that it can cause injuries. This is why it is so important to learn and practice using the pole correctly. Once you are familiar with how to properly hold and use a pole, you will be able to enjoy the experience without any risks.
The Final Word
There are several factors that contribute to the difficulty of using a downhill ski pole. First of all, the design of the pole is unarguably beautiful but also significantly challenging to use correctly. The main reasons behind this are because of the way the pole is used and how differently it is held compared to other types of ski poles. Finally, the manner in which you use the pole is more important than what the equipment looks like because the way you hold the pole will determine how it is going to perform and whether it is safe for use or not. With this in mind, always make sure that you are using the pole in the correct manner and are aware of the injuries that can occur from using it improperly.