RIP silver Rossi pole
Matt McCawley for Hugh. Instead of trying to spin a somewhat depressing day here in ALL of Northern Vermont and the entire East Coast in general, I thought I would take a different route and give a satirical tribute to an often overlooked and under-appreciated piece of skiing equipment… The Ski Pole. I decided to pay homage to the ski pole as I was riding up the Mogul Mouse Magic Learning Chair and noticed an amazing assortment of mismatched, single, or broken poles scattered under the lift. This area, and past mid-station on Madonna, are both well known as ski pole graveyards.
Only part that made it past mid-station
Many people forget to lift their ski poles above the foot rest on the chair as they go over and past mid-station. This leads to a dramatic interaction between the unloading ramp and the ski poles, with a brief moment of grinding and scraping with a giant lurch in the chair, followed by a heavy bending or snapping of the ski pole. People then decided that the best plan is to throw the disfigured pole off the lift, probably to avoid a reprimand or replacement fee, and then that poor pole sits on or under the snow for close to forever.
Misfit ski poles
Before we go into depth about ski pole usage, let’s take one second for a moment of silence to remember all the ski poles we have lost this winter, and all winters…
I want to start by looking at the very basic and most known ways that a ski pole is used. The ski pole can be used for propulsion, we push ourselves all over the place, to and from lodges, lifts, parking lots, greeting areas, on flat trails, and on traverses. We use our ski poles for balance and to make plants before each turn. By reaching for a pole plant or touch, we get our bodies over our skis, and moving into the next turn. This then keeps us out of the backseat and allows us to drive our skis in control down the hill. It is an indicator and initiator of turning, and must be used with rhythm and timing. The plant can be a simple flick or touch on mellow terrain, it can also be more forceful as you are about to make a jump turn on steeps or in the woods. The plant can set you up for a spin in the park, or can keep you balanced while ripping a zipper line in the bumps. Anyway you cut it they are always there and should always be used.
The ski pole is also a very versatile tool with countless everyday uses on and off the mountain. I’m sure some of these will be things you have never done, and I’m sure there are many more that I fail to mention today. For the ease of reading and writing, I’m going to lay this out in a listed fashion and in no particular order:
-Banging snow off ski boots before stepping into bindings (better than wearing out toe piece of bindings by scraping bottom of boots, and not everyone has a personal snow scraper like racers do)
-Releasing heel piece of binding (better than stepping on with other ski, and less likely to make you fall while standing still)
-On snow writing utensil for ski instructors (or spot pointer outer, or to hold across with both hands in front of you, or to look through as window going down, so many pole related tasks)
-Unclipping lower boot buckles to avoid bending over (lazy)
-Ice/Snow scraper on frozen or snow covered chairlifts (cold and wet = uncomfortable)
-When placed under your butt on a chairlift they act as barrier between ski pants and chair surface (see above)
-To de-tune tips and tails of skis (over-tuned skis that hook and or catch edges are scary, hold pole perpendicular to ski edge and run it up and down edge on top and bottom 12 or so inches of ski)
-Polish Horseshoes (it’s a game with a Frisbee, water filled beer bottles, and two short distance spaced ski poles)
-To grab something that is just out of reach (like your other ski pole when you drop it)
-To block gates or tree branches from hitting you (whippets and branches to the face are no fun)
-Form of communication between two or more people to indicate if a jump or drop is clear to hit (both poles straight up in air “ I I “means good to go, poles crossed in an “ X ” means not clear)
-To bang the edge of cornice to see if it will slide (happens out west and sometimes on upper Sir Henry’s)
-To drag alongside you as you ride any surface lift to draw pretend turns (there are always fresh pole turns on the side of the T-Bar)
-To knock snow off tree branches onto unsuspecting people underneath (nothing is as endearing as knocking some snow off of a branch and having it land into your friends jacket collar)
-To wave aggressively at out of control people who buzz by you (DARN KIDS! SLOW DOWN! Shake arm and say in an older and grumpyish tone)
-Letting your snowboarder friend borrow to get across flats (and with this act of kindness all sour relations between skiing and snowboarding have been abdicated)
-Sword fights (win your game of thrones with the coveted aluminum lance of power)
-Wind Chime (check out the one at the bottom of the Headwall, lookers left side below last cliff band)
-Garden Stakes (Not only will poles penetrate snow, but soft organic dirt too)
-To stick straight up in the air in a Jerry tuck to reach maximum velocity (just learn how to tuck properly so you avoid looking foolish)
In all seriousness though, remember that all equipment is important. We must take care of all the parts and pieces that will make our skiing and snowboarding experience better. Also, throwing out broken ski poles because you couldn’t remember to lift them at mid-station is still littering, and is very much frowned upon at any ski area. Carry in, Carry out.
Tomorrow expect mixed precipitation with temperatures starting close to 40 degrees, but falling throughout the day. We plan to have 6 lifts turning, including MI, with 41 trails open, 39 of which are scheduled to be groomed, that’s 133 acres or 5,793,480 square feet. The Zone terrain park is under reconstruction for the Molly Rowlee Rail Jam which takes place this Saturday the 11th this special rail jam benefits the Molly Rowlee Fund, which supports families with children undergoing treatment for cancer. This is the fifth year at Smuggs for this event, and it promises to again be awesome – come out and have some fun and support this great cause! The good times include music, giveaways, and a raffle. Registration starts at 9:00 am at the Yurt in the Parking Lot 1, the Jam starts in the Zone Terrain Park at 11:00 am! Also this weekend is the Extreme Ski Challenge, the Smugglers’ Notch Ski and Snowboard Club hosts this fun event — an opportunity for junior and adult freeskiers to show their stuff on some of the most difficult terrain Smugglers’ Notch has to offer! Competitors will be judged on line, control, fluidity, technique, and style.
Latest forecast says 4 inches of snow by Thursday, let’s all hope that Northwest Flow delivers even more. Do the dance, think snow!