Master Debaters: Skiing Without Poles?

Master Debaters: Skiing Without Poles?

This story originally ran in the October 2008 issue of Freeskier (V11.1).

In one of my editor’s letters last year, I broached the subject of poles versus no poles, suggesting that perhaps poles are the appendices of skiing. Here’s what you thought.-MH

Photo of Sammy Carlson by: Chris O’ Connell

“Skiing without poles is like wearing glasses without lenses, or better yet, like making a sandwich without using the bread. It just doesn’t make sense. The point that I’m trying to make is: We’re not rollerblading here. Now don’t get me wrong, if you wanna look like the 3-year-olds using edgie-wedgies and
racer-chasers, then go ahead. But don’t come crying to me when everyone is pointing and laughing.” —David Bray

“As far as skiing with poles goes, they are meant to be there! A person that skis with poles will always be a better skier than someone on the same level without. Being a good skier goes beyond just hitting jumps and rails. I have never seen a person ski moguls without poles and have good form, while a person with poles has the ability to pound them out and look sick doing it.” —Duncan Harp

“Poles or no poles, we are freeskiers. We can schralp to our own beat and ski free. Mean Girls shows what mindless teenage girls do. Cut two holes in a shirt, one hour later they all will. Hopefully our sport is not a bunch of mindless teenage girls. Poles might not be necessary, they might get in the way, but is that what the majority of kids are thinking. Pep, Andy, and Eric have their reasons. Do you? Waddle or push, don’t be a mindless teenage girl! Choose for yourself.” —Adrian Pougiales

“I tried skiing pole-less. My grabs felt awesome and I’m sure they looked better. Also, skiing switch felt really cool. The problem is how inconvenient it is everywhere else. Getting on the lift sucks, hiking through powder is almost impossible, and getting speed for an urban rail is way harder. I would rather have a bad mute grab than sack-it on a rail because I was going too slow.” —Lucien Rouse

“Ski poles are like the condoms you stole from your father as a child and put in your wallet. At the beginning they are not necessary because you don’t know what you’re doing. Then as life goes on, there are times they come in handy. Maybe you use it, maybe you don’t, but the fact of the matter is when you don’t have them you wish you did!” —Blake Batterton

“If you took ski poles away from me, my arms would be fl apping around like I am some sort of crazy person.” —Cody Isaman

“After a sick line or big drop in some deep snow, what do you clank together with your buddies when you pull up? Are you supposed to high five? That’s so snowboarding.” —Ryan

Photo of Pep Fujas by: Chris O’ Connell/PBP

“Andy, Pep, and Pollard know what’s up! Using poles for most freeskiers is pointless. Double grabs have exploded… without the use of poles. Handplants have sprouted up in parks all over. Powder skiing is definitely sicker. There’s something about the feeling of dragging your hand through waist deep fresh that can’t be beat. Skiers increase their balance and decrease their reliance on over- priced sticks of metal by skiing without poles.” —James Salter

“In the Alpental backcountry and among those glades of giant Douglas Fir we would see this old guy skiing the trees. He must have been in his fifties or sixties. He skied with big red gloves and totally vintage clothing and equipment, but never any poles. His style was not flashy, but solid and adequate to the terrain. One day I rode up Chair 2 with him, and was able to glean his story. He was a retired logger, living and skiing off his pension and disability. “Why don’t I use poles?” he said. “Because I don’t have any hands.” So you see, there will
always be a good reason to ski pole-less, if you have to.” —Richard Carroll

“As I recently lost my appendix, as well as poles, my relevance to this issue is heightened. First, if you’re going to ski without poles it is best to have your appendix removed as well. This allows you to be better, fitter, faster, and stronger, like that overplayed Daft Punk song. Pole-less, I have enjoyed new freedoms while skiing down the hill. I’m free to carry more essential items like gallons of water and Subway sandwiches for those slow-going mornings
after having too many PBRs the night before.” —Dylan

“Less is more when it comes to equipment. Snowboarding is stealing our thunder because with only one piece of equipment to keep in synch, every turn looks graceful. We call them “knuckle-draggers,” but which sport is really dragging appendages in the snow? Besides, the resulting volley of hand gestures requires open hands!” —Lara Gooch and Scott Regenstein

“I hope more people lay off the “no polers” and just focus on skiing, not how you look. We are all out there to do the same thing, SKI! Skiing is skiing, and that is the way it has been since it was created, and that is how it always needs to be.” —Hunter Arbaugh

“This summer was an eye-opener. The people I was skiing with were able to charge just as hard without poles as many of those with poles. Although hesitant at first, I decided to drop my poles for a day, and I have never looked back. The freedom of no poles is great, and definitely worth the waddle of shame to the lift in return for no sore thumbs at the end of the day. Stop the hate, appreciate.” —Neil Montgomery

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