I'm watching the Olympics. The skiers in the "classic" events like giant slalom or the downhill carry poles. But they never seem to use them for anything. I don't see the poles touch the ground unless it's part of falling. Some of the slalom skiers seem to use the guard on the pole to push the gates aside, but a big rigid glove could maybe serve that purpose. There also seems to be a role in getting back up after falling, but that is not a normal part of a run.

Is it habit or tradition? Does it help them to balance, like the long pole a tightrope walker uses? Is it for the first few strides at the very beginning of the race?

I know that ski jumpers and arials don't use them, so it's certainly possible to get down a hill without poles. What value do they bring?

  • Did you watch them come out of the gate?
    – paparazzo
    Commented Feb 17, 2018 at 7:24
  • @Paparazzi that's what I was referring to with "the first few strides" Commented Feb 17, 2018 at 13:39
  • They help provide balance and stability. If you watch the skiing events closely, you will notice that the skiers do drag their pole tips across the snow when making turns. Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 7:21

2 Answers 2


The key thing poles are used for in downhill is the launch through the gate. But poles also provide balance, and help them keep or get out of trouble.


The question is legitimate by a person who has never skied.

The poles help professional skiers during the races (as amateur skiers) to maintain a better balance. With the sticks you can move the weight (and so also the center of gravity) to right and left also allowing to support a higher speed

  • I think you first line belongs in comments on the question not in an answer Commented May 20, 2018 at 2:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.