Parallel Pole Planes
Match your Hands to the Horizon Line to Create Bigger Angles
By tipping our skis on higher angles, we can get better edge-hold – great for both carving and shaping turns – so here’s a way to create angles in the ankles, knees, hip and spine. For contrast, let’s consider the biker, or airplane, banking around a turn. The entire body tips into the turn. As skiers, we need higher edge angles to resist sliding sideways. Bending our lower joints (ankles, knees and hips) while the upper body stays relatively upright – angulating – can help us carve and shape turns more effectively.
In the photo, you can see the (ski tips) edge angle increasing as I move through the turn. Meanwhile, to help develop edge angles, I’m keeping the poles parallel to the horizon line in front of me. As I go through a turn, the poles have to tip more and more as my skis turn more and more across the hill. As my upper body tips with the poles, I’m creating and increasing body angles that produce edging.
Try this: Making big round turns on an easy groomer, match the position of the poles in relation to the snow ahead of you. When your skis are pointing straight down the hill, your hands will be even (equally forward) and horizontal. If you’re finishing your turns across the hill – perpendicular to the fall line – then your pole angle would be 20° off of level on a 20° slope. As you learn to tip your skis more, graduate to steeper slopes.
Using your poles to “find level” in the line ahead of you can help you develop angles in your body that create higher edge angles. More edge makes carving possible and shaping turns not only easier and more effective, but more fun too!
J. Scott Mcgee served on and then coached the PSIA Nordic Team (USA) 2000-2016 and works as Snow King Mountain Sports School’s director. A former telemark competitor, he now dreams of perfect corn on spring backcountry skate-ski tours. Mcgee spends his summers guiding climbs in the Tetons for Exum Mountain Guides.
Match the position of your poles in relation to the snow ahead of you to “find level” that will help you develop angles in your body that create higher edge angles.