Why Are Ski Poles Bent? (Explained)

why are ski poles bent

Ski poles have come a long way in the past few years. One of the key changes are the materials they are made of and their shapes. Things started to change when skiing became a recreational activity and a competitive sport and the gear needed to get better.

Bent ski poles are a good example of this. Bent or curved ski poles are especially designed for racers taking part in competitive skiing.

In this post, I’ll give you a quick rundown of why are ski poles bent, the advantages they offer and when are bent ski poles used.

When Are Bent Ski Poles Used?

Bent ski poles are designed specially for racers to help them reduce drag so that they could go faster in races. They have an ergonomic bend that goes well with the tucked ski position when racing.

When Are Bent Ski Poles Used

These bent ski poles are only used for racing and not in recreational skiing as they simply are not needed. Bent ski poles are used only in these four types of competitive skiing:

  • Downhill
  • Slalom
  • Giant slalom
  • Super giant slalom

Also check out our guide on skiing without poles

Benefits of Bent Ski Poles in Competitive Skiing 

Bent ski poles help competing skiers with speed, safety, and maneuverability which are all requirements for winning their game and returning home unharmed.

Let’s take a look at these in greater details:

Aerodynamic Advantage

One of the main advantages of using bent ski poles is their ability to minimize wind resistance in a downhill race. To fully understand the significance of this, we must pay attention to the typical body position of a skier speeding down a slope during a race.

The skier will be in a “tuck” position, with knees bent and the hip slightly above the knees, and torso bent forward with the chest close to the knees while holding both ski poles close to the body.

Aerodynamic Advantage

Ski poles with curved shafts wrap around the skier’s body snugly with their tips closer to each other behind the body.

This results in minimized wind resistance on the skier. While this may seem insignificant to non-ski racing spectators, racers are already going super fast (about 85 miles per hour or even more) and winning or losing in a downhill ski race can be determined by even a hundredth of a second. And they need all the help they can get.

So, the reduction of wind resistance provided by the curvature of the ski poles is not negligible at all.

Better Safety

With the curved ski poles closely tucked in towards the skier’s body,  there is less likelihood of them getting snagged on the skis or ski boot bindings while tackling a tight turn, minimizing the risk of the skier losing control and being hurt.

Competitive skiers are always pushing themselves to the limit and it is not uncommon for them to get it wrong with split-second decisions and flail around wildly with the poles, attempting to regain control.

Bent ski poles are less likely to snag into slalom gates in such instances. 

Performance Enhancement

The use of bent ski poles can also help the skier to accelerate faster out of bends and set a rhythm for turns, maintain upper body position, as well as propel the body in flat sections of the trail.

Performance Enhancement

Also read how to adjust pole straps here.

Bottom Line

So, in a nutshell, bent ski poles are only used in competitive skiing and helps skiers to move faster, more accurately, and more safely during the sport. They are never meant for recreational skiing.

In addition to being curved, the ski poles used in such racing events are also being built sturdier and thinner, with smaller basket sizes mainly to give them a speed advantage through minimized wind resistance, a.k.a “drag”.


Can You Unbend A Ski Pole?

You cannot unbend curved ski poles that are made for racing, but if you mean your normal ski poles that got bent by accident, yes you can usually unbend it but it’s way too bent, it cannot be straightened.

How To Fix a Bent Ski Pole?

There are a couple of ways you could do this, but remember it will weaken your pole. You can heat them up with a heater/torch or even in the fireplace and slowly bend them back into shape. You could also try hitting the bend SLOWLY into something hard like a post in the correct angle.

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Picture of Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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