Double Pole Plant — Throwback or Modern?

Post by blogger | June 23, 2016      
Double pole plant was viable in the 1960s, what about now?

Double pole plant was viable in the 1960s, what about now? It perhaps has some coaching uses as an exercise, and displays your well developed glutes to maximum effect, what more?

I’ve got a few double pole planter friends. You know who you are. I always wondered why you guys persisted. I mean, isn’t the double technique so 1969? (Yeah, 1969 was a very good year, but…)

Skiing History Magazine May June 2016.

Skiing History Magazine May June 2016. What is it about magazines? The discipline of publishing on an extended timeline? The time taken to edit and massage the writing? Whatever, Skiing History has really been stepping up. This cover is a 1920 lithograph by Milivoj Uzelak, a Croatian who was influential in the ‘modern’ art world around 1920. Recommended.

Latest issue of Skiing History Magazine devotes a page to the nefarious double. Author Ron LeMaster harkens back to 1969 for the technique being touted as a “trick” that puts skiers back on their feet when they’re having a bad day. But LeMaster brings it all to the present and says that in 2016 the double pole plant is still a “reliable presence in the standard coaching toolkit.” He goes on to explain that planting both poles at the beginning of the turn is a great training exercise for a lot of reasons, perhaps most importantly because it helps keep skiers forward going into the turn, fighting the insidious habit of dropping the uphill hand.

Is the double pole plant something for EVERY turn as I see some guys use it during steep backcountry descents? Not sure. In my experience it can add complexity and something to trip up on if you’re timing isn’t perfect. It’s also a little weird when the angle really kicks up, say past 45%.

What do you readers think?


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27 Responses to “Double Pole Plant — Throwback or Modern?”

  1. Matt Kinney June 23rd, 2016 11:06 am

    I use my helmet cam at times and if I double-pole, I screw up the next turn in some way. As soon as I notice what I’m doing I try to stop it. The double pole usually pops up while cruising moderate terrain for no reason. It’s a coordination issue.

  2. Lou Dawson 2 June 23rd, 2016 11:18 am

    Some of the technicality is that using a double pole plant doubles the weight of the arms out in front of you, which when combined with leverage exert substantial force on your stance, causing you to want to drop your rear etc. to compensate, IMHO.

    You can do a “dry land” stance test that bears this out. Stand on level floor in a simulated ski stance that’s balanced on your feet front/back. Motion one arm forward straight as if pole planting, you’ll feel a slight compensation in your balance, knee bend, etc. Then do the same with both arm simultaneous and you’ll feel a very obvious difference in how you compensate.

  3. Scott Allen June 23rd, 2016 12:01 pm

    Wow! I just had 1969 dry land flash back…thanks for the “Experience!”

  4. ptor June 23rd, 2016 12:03 pm

    Coombs would put in a few double pole plants now and again which made me realize it’s a good club to have in your bag.

  5. Rod June 23rd, 2016 12:22 pm

    Always use it when skiing steep terrain that requires to stop at each turn, 50 degrees or so.

    Also, on the first turn from stop in steep terrain.

    Remy lecluse recommended it on every turn, because if you have inconsistent snow, planting just the downhill pole can make you fall forward, unrecoverable fall.

    I also find that pushing off both poles makes it much easier to retract your feet and get your skis across immediately.

    Btw, when you plant both poles, the downhill one is below your binding, add the uphill one above and behind the tip of the uphill ski

    So it doesn’t move your weight back.

    This is not like the double pole plant in the picture.

    If you look at videos from steep stuff in chamonix, most of the turns have a double pole plant, unless it’s hero powder conditions.

  6. XXX_er June 23rd, 2016 2:45 pm

    Double plant the odd time it’s not the end of the world and usually nobody is watching

    I regularly ski with a lapsed level 4 instructor who uses and recommends it in the bc but again not every turn

  7. Will Derrick June 23rd, 2016 5:05 pm

    I did a lot of monoskiing this year for a laugh, on piste, the double pole plant seemed rather pointless but in moderate powder, WOW, I felt like twice the man.

  8. Lou Dawson 2 June 23rd, 2016 5:31 pm

    I can’t wait for next winter! Double plant revival in the Dawson house!

  9. Andrew June 24th, 2016 7:14 am

    Next year all we are going to see is people double pole planting all over the place and we can thank Lou for once again changing the landscape of skiing in America

  10. Jim Milstein June 24th, 2016 8:09 am

    I planted double poles this spring, but only one came up.

  11. Derek June 24th, 2016 2:16 pm

    Tomba made it work much later. He was/is a pretty strong skier.

    I also find my self using it when things are very steep and conditions are uncertain.

    another tool in the box.

  12. See June 24th, 2016 8:20 pm

    Just watched those videos. I’m not really seeing a lot of pole planting. Whatever works is fine with me, but I try not to rely too much on my poles when going downhill. Some interesting pole action here:

  13. Doug Hill June 25th, 2016 6:55 am

    Hmmmm….Seems like the double pole plant is still plenty relevant. Many racers / competent on piste skiers use a variation of of it while free skiing, people who still ski 3 pins, with leather boots and long skis seem to find it as hard to put away as their ancient equipment, where it really shines is starting jump turns in variable snow. It seems to help keep your weight out front through the turn/ transition. Pierre Tardievel, Seb Monatz, Killian Jornet all use it if you can find videos of them.

  14. See June 25th, 2016 8:19 am

    I don’t mean to suggest that my idiosyncratic technique is superior to Tomba’s, Tardivel’s or anyone else’s. But for me, using arms/poles for weight distribution/timing/etc. is preferable to planting poles and pushing on them. For one thing, actual pole plants can be kind of hard on wrists, arms, etc.. Of course, one does what one has to do in serious situations.

  15. Maciej Pike-Biegunski June 25th, 2016 11:40 am

    On steep, consequential terrain, the double is a good technique. This is particularly true in steep, narrow couloirs where the only safe way down is to make a series of tight, precise hop turns. Once or twice I’ve also double poled to get a little more boost when I had to clear a gap.

    It’s not a skill for every turn or even every day, but sometimes makes the difference between skiing safely and in control in challenging terrain or flailing (and maybe falling) downhill.

  16. Lou Dawson 2 June 25th, 2016 12:18 pm

    Good thoughts you guys, I’m hearing from quite a few folks that this innocent little post has expanded their technique horizon, myself included.

    I’m just waiting for one certain guy to chime in.


  17. mike June 25th, 2016 4:40 pm here’s an interesting steep skiing turn called the pedal hop turn

  18. See June 25th, 2016 6:30 pm

    That Vallencant video pretty much defines the the super steep turn, in my opinion. But I guess I’m old school.

  19. Bob Perlmutter June 25th, 2016 9:59 pm

    OK Lou, I’ll take the bait. Having been known to incorporate the double pole plant from time to time, I am guilty as charged. I’ll take any association I can get with Tomba, Coombs(the best technical skier I have ever skied with beyond World Cup skiers) et all regardless of how distant, vague and outright inaccurate. I have the Marolt brothers to blame for introducing me to this arcane technique sometime back in the latter half of the 80’s. I have been trying to kick the habit ever since. They can’t help themselves as it’s part of their DNA.

    In all seriousness, the double pole plant does have it’s place in a skiers bag of tricks. Be it hop turns on really steep terrain and/or helping lift your skis out of difficult snow on steep terrain where absolute control of turn radius and speed can be a matter of life and death. Note the first couple of turns in this attached video.

    That said, more often than not, what I call a “double pole touch” is often confused as an actual double pole plant. Note the two videos of Tomba. As an aside, look at how much his technique changes from “88” to “92”. In “88” he is utilizing a lot of up/down vertical motion and by “92” it’s almost all lateral motion. The evolution of technique and the evolution of equipment go hand in hand. I mention this because with today’s modern gear, a lot of the exaggerated motions of the past are needed far less often if at all. Thank goodness because I was getting tired of all those double pole plants.

  20. Lou Dawson 2 June 26th, 2016 7:46 am

    Hey Bob! Thanks for stopping by, appreciate it. I like your point about “touch” vs the “plant.” Now we need to see if a Marolt chimes in here. Lou

  21. Ron June 27th, 2016 11:17 am

    double pole plant works well with the telemark turn, adds balance when tired

  22. Jack June 27th, 2016 11:53 am

    Ok, I’m about 1/4 the skier as some mentioned above and *rarely* double pole plant. Generating power and uplift in really crappy snow, on the steep, I do a decisive uplift/near jump turn. My pole plant technique, esp. on steep, first turns is to do an air plant that puts my body in the right position. Going too far forward or down seeking real plant is very unbalancing. I’ll try some doubles this winter. Do I have to say “Huut” at each plant?
    [I hate slipping and tripping over a planted lower pole – avoid!]

  23. Pete Anzalone June 28th, 2016 11:24 pm

    Great, fun reading, very entertaining. Thanks Lou and all you creative, double pole planting contributors.

  24. Lou Dawson 2 June 29th, 2016 8:55 am

    Pete, come clean. You double or not? Lou

  25. JCoates June 29th, 2016 10:33 am

    Not sure about Tomba, but I’ve been trying for years to perfect Rémy Lécluse’s double pole plant on steep terrain. I still haven’t been able to ski a 10% as beautiful as him. Not sure what he is saying in this video but it doesn’t matter. His skiing is perfection.

  26. BenL July 4th, 2016 4:52 pm

    Are you going to break out the mono ski Lou (or unscrew it from the picket fence)

  27. jasper December 30th, 2016 6:37 pm

    Check out the French ski film ‘Te’s Pa Bien Lá (Downside Up)’ for some double pole plant inspiration.

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