Proper Sizing of Cross-Country Ski Poles
Cross-country ski poles are longer than their alpine, or downhill, counterparts to aid in pushing, and are comosed of four major parts: handle, shaft, basket and tip. Selecting the correct pole size is based on the cross-country style, classic or skate, and the skier's height. While most modern ski pole shafts are made of a composite material such as carbon fiber, traditionalists might choose a bamboo or aluminum shaft.
Measure your height in feet and inches. Stand in bare feet, with your heels and back against the wall, to get an accurate measurement.
Match your height to the corresponding ski pole length as specified by the pole manufacturer. These will vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer, but generally adhere to the following:
If you are... 5 feet tall, use a 120-cm pole 5-foot-1 to 5-foot 2, use a 125-cm pole 5-foot-3 to 5-foot-4, use a 130-cm pole 5-foot-5 to 5-foot-6, use a 135-cm pole 5-foot-7 to 5-foot-8, use a 140-cm pole 5-foot-9 to 5-foot-10, use a 145-cm pole 5-foot-11 to 6 feet, use a 150-cm pole 6-foot-1 to 6-foot-2, use a 155-cm pole 6-foot-3 to 6-foot-4, use a 160-cm pole
Place the tip of the ski pole on the ground next to your foot and align the shaft along your body. The handle should touch the top of your armpit. Do this to confirm that the data supplied by the chart accurately fits your body. You also can do this if you do not have a tape measure or sizing chart and are simply trying poles at the ski shop or rental counter.
Alter the pole height to fit your skiing style. Classic skiers will use the pole at armpit height. Skate skiers will use a longer pole that reaches up to their chin or base of their nose to maximize the pole's pushing force.
Insert your hands through the nylon webbing loops on top of each handle to test the fit and security. Most cross-country techniques involve the use of releasing the poles at the end of the drive stroke and using the rebound from the loop to return the pole back into the skier's hand.
There are varying types of baskets and tips from which to choose to better match the snow conditions and terrain for your style of skiing. If you are not certain as to which type is better, consult the local ski shop pro or other skiers.
Ski poles, while durable, are not designed for a tremendous amount of force and can buckle if you place all of your body weight on them.
Explore In Depth
- "The Essential Cross-Country Skier"; Rick Lovett, Paul Petersen, John Morton; 1999
- Nicholas, J.C., McDonald, K.A. et al. (2019). Pole dancing for fitness: the physiological and metabolic demand of a 60-minute class. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 33(10), 2704-2710.
Jack Kaltmann is a Las Vegas-based writer with more than 25 years of professional experience in corporate communications. He is a published author of several books and feature articles for national publications such as "American Artist" and "Inside Kung-Fu." Kaltmann holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Miami University and is a retired nationally certified personal trainer.