Sting the Snow

I would add float like a butterfly (on powder) but we have little of that here in the Upper Midwest.

However, this is not about the differences between skiing in the Upper Midwest and out West but more related to technique and specifically about using your ski poles.

I am not writing this so much as an instructional, as I am in no position to instruct especially when it comes to the use of one’s ski poles.

The primary use my ski poles got over most of my ski career is as balance aids, whiskers, and to push myself along when on a flat (e.g. heading to the chair). I have rarely used pole planting technique when skiing. Of course, I have had a good excuse handy and usually involved that I rarely see GS skiers plant their poles.

Still, it is good to have to a number of different techniques mastered, you never know when one technique or the other is what you need.

Now, it seems one type of skiing I have made use of pole planting technique and that is when skiing crud & bumps (by bumps I am talking about small ones formed by people skiing through deepish and powdery snow rather than full sized moguls), it just seemed the thing to do. I can not recall the timing of my plants just that I would almost unconsciously sting the snow.

That said, I find myself stinging the snow while skiing down groomers and not necessarily steep ones. I do so and apply a little force to the plant with the idea of increasing my speed. Now, at moderate speeds I really believe there is little in terms of speed to be gained but it seems when I was doing this I was keeping up with my ski buddy in a way I did not before and he has been planting poles for a long time.

I find pole planting enforces a rhythm too. Now, since I am predominantly free skiing I really have no serious need for rhythm (unlike someone skiing slalom gates) but I do like it. Interestingly enough MoutainSkier notes:

They [poles] have many values they add to the movements in skiing. Stance, timing, extension and flexion, rhythm and the list goes on and on. But to do that, they do not have to look pretty, cool or professional. Poles are equipment and not a fashion statement. Yeah, my poles look like junk.

Go read our follow up comments as MoutainSkier talks about some pole use specifics.

So, get out there and STING the snow!

Good Stuff!


  1. Thanks for noting my blog. Reading your note above. Your more aggressive pole plant may have been actually getting you to drive your turns and work the ski more speeding you along. I agree sting the snow. I like that.

  2. Yeah you may be right about that. As I noted at your blog it is fairly obvious one does not gain a whole lot from the push, but you bring up an interesting factor and one I’ve been hoping to utilize more and that is working the springiness in my skis to get some speed boost.

    I have Warren Witherell’s book and he talks about harnessing the energy in a bent ski to push you along. He talks about an exercise where essentially you set up a snowplow and work the skis (the book is not with me now and I can not recall the specifics) and you should notice a pickup in speed greater than what gravity alone can provide. I don’t recall Warren addressing pole planting at all, but I’ll have to go back and see about that.


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