Racers average 30-45 pole plants per minute. Over the course of the 52km American Birkebeiner the winner may lift his poles more than 5,000 times. A skier completing the race in 3hrs. could have poled 7,000 times and a 4hr. skier might have lifted their poles 10,000 times.
Extra weight is not fun! If you and a friend ski a 3-hour Birkie and the friend uses Swix's ultra-light Triac pole while you use the heavier CT4 "Comp" pole, you will be lifting an additional 3oz. every time you pole. Every. Single. Stroke. If each stroke moves your pole 5ft., this equates to curling a gallon of milk in each hand 375 times during the race. Will you still beat that friend?
The most important shaft properties are overall weight, swing weight, stiffness, and strength. Swing weight refers to the pendulum motion of a pole plant and how more weight near the pole tip requires more energy from the skier. The stiffer the pole the more energy goes into forward movement. Strength refers to the durability of the pole.
We generally use the following formulas to determine the pole length you require. Of course, there is some variation, and as you ski more you may devlop a personal preference for a slightly longer or shorter pole, but we've found these give a consistently good starting point.
Skate Pole Length = (Height - 20cm)
Classic Pole Length = (Height - 30cm)