For sharper turns, don't plant pole too far forward

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One of the biggest obstacles to overcoming bad habits is that old sense of feeling comfortable with them. And when faced with something scary - like a steep slope - do I grasp for the familiar!

The trick is to find the motivation necessary for shedding that unwanted dependency. For me, learning why a habit is harmful - what its specific effects are - helps. For example, if I can see how something I'm doing causes too much loss of control on the steeps, I'm refortified in my attempts to drop familiar old patterns.

One of my sons has repeatedly chastised me for planting my pole too far forward instead of to the side, or downhill on a traverse. Like many dads, I stuffed the advice into the mental bin marked ''ignore.'' Finally, he got through to me by demonstrating how turning around your pole causes late edge change and a long arc instead of a quick, short radius turn.

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It there's ''no pole to turn around,'' you can change your edges right under your feet, so to speak, and make a quicker turn. On a relatively flat slope, the quickness isn't so important. On the steeps it can be crucial in controlling speed.

Experimenting with this brilliant discovery, I deduced why I ''wanted'' to plant my pole too far forward. It gives me the feeling - falsely - of pressing forward, supposedly desirable but in this case forcing me into long, speed-gathering turns. Now, I've got reinforced motivation to put the pole where it belongs. Thanks, son. Be patient.

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