Ski poles, also known as poles, sticks or stocks, are used by skiers for balance and propulsion. Modern ski poles are most commonly made of aluminium and carbon fibre, although materials such as bamboo are still used. Ski poles are used for alpine skiing, freestyle skiing (except aerials) and cross-country skiing.
There are two main types of ski poles: those used for alpine skiing, and those used for cross-country skiing. Alpine ski poles are typically shorter than cross-country ski poles, and have larger baskets (the discs at the end of the pole that prevent the pole from sinking too deeply into soft snow). Cross-country ski poles are designed for use in a wider range of snow conditions, and typically have smaller baskets.
Ski poles are usually sold in pairs, and the correct length of pole for a skier is dependent on the skier's height and the type of skiing they will be doing. For alpine skiing, a good rule of thumb is that the pole should reach from the ground to somewhere between the skier's chin and nose. For cross-country skiing, the pole should reach from the ground to somewhere between the skier's armpit and shoulder.