Are you ready to take your skiing skills to the next level? Telemark skiing, also known as free-heel skiing, is a style of skiing that requires more finesse and technique than traditional alpine skiing. It involves bending your knees and switching between lunging forward on one ski while keeping the other ski back.
Learning how to telemark ski like a pro means mastering this technique while achieving fluidity, balance, and grace on the slopes. Whether you’re a seasoned skier looking for a new challenge or just starting out in the sport, our guide will provide you with essential tips and tricks to help you become a top-notch telemark skier.
“Telemark skiing is all about finding the perfect blend of art and science. It’s not just about speed and control; it’s about learning to move gracefully through the sticks and snow.” -Unknown
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything from selecting the right gear and equipment to proper body positioning and techniques for tackling various types of terrain. You’ll learn how to carve beautiful turns down steep slopes, navigate tight trees, and handle deep powder with ease.
No matter your skill level, our expert advice and practical tips will help you improve your telemark skiing abilities and elevate your overall performance. So why wait? Let’s get started!
Understanding the Telemark Ski Technique
The History of Telemark Skiing
Telemark skiing is named after a small region in Norway called Telemark. In the 19th century, people used skis as transportation and military tools. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that recreational skiing started to become popular in Norway. The Telemark ski technique was developed by Sondre Norheim, who wanted to create a more efficient way of going downhill. He used his knowledge of Nordic skiing to develop the telemark turn.
The tradition of telemark skiing still lives on in Norway today. Every year, a Telemark Festival is held where locals come together to celebrate their heritage and demonstrate their skills on the mountain.
The Basics of Telemark Skiing
Telemark skiing involves turning your skis one at a time while your heels are not attached to the ski. This movement requires a lot of lower body strength and balance. To start, place your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes pointing straight ahead. Then, bend your knees slightly and shift your weight onto your forward foot. Next, lift up your heel from the back ski and extend your leg forward while bending your knee on the front ski. This movement will cause your back ski to point inward and initiate the turn.
It is important to remember to keep your upper body facing downhill and use your core muscles to stabilize yourself. As you get more comfortable with the telemark technique, you can gradually increase your speed and try more advanced turns like the parallel turn and the hop turn.
Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
One common mistake beginners make when telemark skiing is leaning too far forward. This can cause you to lose balance and fall over. To avoid this, try to keep your weight centered over the middle of your skis. Another mistake is not turning enough with your front leg. This makes it difficult to control your speed and direction. To fix this, focus on bending your knee and keeping your shin pressed against the tongue of your boot.
Another mistake that can be dangerous is skiing too fast without proper control. Always make sure you are in control of your speed and only ski at a pace that feels comfortable for you. Make use of your poles to help guide your turns and maintain balance. Lastly, make sure to wear proper safety equipment such as a helmet and goggles.
“There’s nothing more satisfying than hitting a perfect telemark turn.” – Scot Schmidt
Choosing the Right Equipment for Telemark Skiing
Boots and Bindings
Telemark skiing requires specialized equipment that differs from alpine or Nordic skiing. Choosing proper boots and bindings is crucial as they directly impact your performance, control, and safety on the mountain.
When selecting telemark boots, ensure that you look for those with a flexible sole that allows your foot to pivot easily while performing a telemark turn. A stiff sole will hinder your movement, making it difficult to perform a proper turn.
Additionally, choose boots of the right size that provide a snug yet comfortable fit. Loose-fitting boots lead to reduced control and an increased risk of injury whilst too-tight ones reduce circulation to your feet, causing discomfort and even frostbite in severe situations.
For bindings, there are two types: 75mm and NTN (New Telemark Norm). The 75mm binding works well for beginners due to its simple design, which also makes it the most affordable option out there. NTN bindings feature modern technology and have more high-end features, providing better power transmission and overall control over your skis when compared to older styles.
“If the boot doesn’t fit properly, none of the other parts matter.” -Ken McNabb
Skis and Poles
Selecting the appropriate skis and poles is equally essential when learning how to telemark ski. Skis come in varied widths, lengths, sidecuts, flex patterns, cambers, and rockers, all of which can affect your skiing experience differently.
Narrow skis are excellent for groomed slopes while wider ones work best for deep powder conditions. Similarly, longer skis offer greater stability at higher speeds but make turning more challenging, whereas shorter skis are ideal for beginners since they’re easier to maneuver.
Apart from width, the flex pattern is also crucial when picking out your skis. If you weigh less than 160lbs., opt for a softer, kid-friendly ski while those above 220 lbs. should get stiffer ones that provide better control and stability. For everything in between, choose medium to stiff flex depending on preference and ability.
When it comes to selecting poles for telemark skiing, there isn’t much difference as compared to other forms of skiing. The correct length will allow you to maneuver turns correctly by placing them effectively throughout the process. Generally, pick poles with enough length to reach shoulder height or shorter if seeking greater mobility.
“Poles aren’t just things to hold onto anymore – they can be used actively.” -Bode Miller
When learning how to telemark ski, choosing suitable equipment is essential. Properly fitting boots, compatible bindings, well-suited skis, and right-sized poles all play key roles in enhancing your performance, preventing injuries, and making your experience enjoyable allowing the sport’s unique movements to be an enjoyable activity for winter sports enthusiasts everywhere.
Mastering the Telemark Turn
If you love skiing and want to take your skills to the next level, it’s time to master the art of telemark skiing. These turns are named after the region in Norway where they originated in the late 19th century. It requires less forceful movements than some other techniques and allows for more graceful skiing. Here is a guide on mastering the telemark turn.
The Wedge Turn
The wedge turn should be mastered before trying any advanced techniques as this will give skiers the necessary balance when attempting those complicated moves. The first step in learning the wedge is by standing stationary with your weight evenly distributed between both feet.
Tips for executing the perfect wedge include:
- Keeping knees bent
- Shifting weight from one foot to the other
- Straightening legs to bring ski tips together while gliding forward
“The wedge turn helps beginners develop balance, steering, and stopping skills.” – American Telemark Association
The Telemark Turn
The Telemark turn is a unique technique that distinguishes itself from other types of skiing. It involves positioning oneself into a lunge position where the downhill ski remains parallel to the base of the slope while the uphill ski takes a backward diagonal stance known as the “telemark position”.
To achieve the perfect telemark turn try these methods:
- Bend deeply at the knees or lean forward into your boots slightly.
- Begin to move one leg behind the other in a straight line towards the direction which you desire to go down the slope.
- As you move forward, extend one of your legs while keeping pressure on the other leg that’s drawn back.
- Avoid leaning too far back.
“The weight should be distributed over your front ski toes for good control and balance.” – Colorado Ski Authority
The telemark turn has become a highly sought-after skill amongst skiers with competitions and races such as the Telemark World Cup sprouting up worldwide.
Mastering the art of skiing requires focus and determination, just like any other sport. Attempting to learn advanced techniques without properly understanding the basics can lead to injury or disaster. So take it slow and steady and work your way up, starting with the wedge before attempting the Telemark turn. Happy skiing!
Improving Your Balance and Control
If you’re new to telemark skiing, improving your balance and control should be a top priority. The following tips can help:
Strengthening Your Core
Your core muscles play an important role in telemark skiing as they stabilize and support your body while skiing. Strong core muscles also allow you to make smoother turns and maintain proper form. Exercises like planks, sit-ups, and Russian twists are great for strengthening your core.
“Core strength is the foundation of good telemark skiing technique.” -Telemark Ski Magazine
Improving Your Flexibility
Being flexible not only helps prevent injuries but it also allows you to move more freely on the slopes. Incorporating some stretching exercises like lunges, hamstring stretches, and calf stretches into your workout routine will go a long way in increasing your flexibility.
“Stretching regularly can significantly improve range of motion, allowing for greater control and precision in telemark skiing movements.” -Ski.com
Developing Your Edging Skills
Edging is a fundamental aspect of telemark skiing that requires proper technique and practice. To improve your edging skills, start with the basics like making smaller, controlled turns on groomed runs. As you progress, challenge yourself by tackling steeper runs or skiing off-piste terrain.
“Telemarking relies heavily on developing strong edging skills, which come from understanding how weight distribution and edge angle work together.” -Outdoor Gear Exchange Blog
Practicing on Varied Terrain
One of the keys to becoming a skilled telemark skier is practicing on varied terrain. This not only helps you develop your skills but also ensures that you’re ready for whatever challenges the mountain throws at you. Mix it up by skiing on both groomed and ungroomed runs, tackling moguls, or even trying some tricks in the park.
“Telemark skiing is a versatile sport that can be done on all types of terrain from groomed slopes to powder-filled backcountry bowls.” -The Inertia
Improving your balance and control when telemark skiing requires practice and dedication. Incorporating exercises and training programs specifically designed for telemark skiing will help you reach your goals faster.
Advanced Telemark Skiing Techniques
The Jump Turn
If you are looking to add some style to your telemark skiing, the jump turn is a great technique to master. This maneuver involves jumping and turning in mid-air before landing back on your skis.
To perform a jump turn, start by skiing down a slope at a moderate speed. As you approach a turn where a sharper direction change is needed, squat down and explode off both of your skis simultaneously.
In mid-air, rotate your legs and hips 180 degrees so that they are now facing uphill. Extend your legs downwards and align your body over your skis as you return to the snow for a smooth landing. Practice on easier terrain before trying this move on steeper slopes or in deep powder conditions.
“With the jump turn, you can make heading transitions even more dramatic and dynamic.” – Professional Skier Tyler Ceccanti
The Carving Turn
In carving turns, your telemark skis make graceful, curving arcs across the snow. To execute challenging carving turns, you need to have proper balance and timing.
To initiate a carving turn, shift the weight onto your outside ski edge as much as possible and drop your knee down towards the inside of the turn while keeping your other leg straight. The bending motion of your outside leg will guide your skis through the arc. Use a pole plant for added stability.
Squeeze your thighs and core muscles firmly together and let the momentum take you through the curve. Stay balanced over your feet and keep your shoulders parallel to the horizon throughout the duration of the carve. Practice angular momentum drills to improve your ability to sustain and exit out of these high-speed turns.
“Telemark skiing’s signature piece, the telemark turn, isn’t just for snowplowing anymore. With new techniques and equipment, you can learn to carve down a mountain in style.” – Rebecca Agiewich, Backcountry Magazine
The Switch Turn
A switch turn is essentially a backwards version of a regular telemark turn. This maneuver is used mainly for steep narrow passages or when changing direction on more technical terrain.
To perform a switch turn, start by finishing a forward telemark turn and come to a stop with your skis pointing slightly uphill. Then initiate a pivot with your downhill (“new” lead) ski going downhill while making the other ski pivot uphill. As you do this, drop the knee opposite your new leading ski down towards the inside of the turn.
Keep your weight centered over both skis as you progress through the pivot and into the next turn.
“When it comes time to navigate steeps or tight spots or simply to ski backward, knowing how to tele smoothly means tacky turns frontwards or backcrooked.” – Boots McFarland, Powder Magazine
The Powder Turn
Making powder turns is a thrilling experience that requires a different technique than regular piste skiing. When skiing deep snow, proper technique allows you to move gracefully instead of getting stuck and crashing.
Your initial motion should begin with a wide stance with bent knees and hips pressed forward, especially if the snow conditions are particularly deep. Keep your arms extended straight out in front of your body so that you can maintain balance. Be prepared to lean more heavily into your downhill ski first before transferring your center of gravity onto your uphill ski.
As you make each turn, your motions should be slow, deliberate, and graceful. Move your legs fluidly, pivoting slowly on your skis. Carry speed and momentum from one turn to the next.
“When skiing powder with telemark equipment, try and stay low, keep a good platform for your outside eye and don’t be afraid to hop out of trouble.” – Professional Ski Guide Andrew Nedimyer
Frequently Asked Questions
What is telemark skiing and how is it different from alpine skiing?
Telemark skiing is a style of skiing that involves a free-heel binding system, allowing the heel to lift off the ski when turning. This technique dates back to the 19th century and was named after the Telemark region in Norway. Unlike alpine skiing where the heel is locked down, telemark skiing requires more balance and strength. It also allows for more fluid turns and a greater feeling of connection with the mountain.
What equipment do I need for telemark skiing?
For telemark skiing, you will need skis with telemark bindings, which allow for the free-heel movement. You will also need telemark boots, which are designed to work with the binding system. Poles are also necessary, and it is recommended to use ski-specific poles. In addition, it is important to wear proper ski attire, including a helmet, goggles, and layers for warmth. It is also important to choose the appropriate ski length and width for your skill level and the terrain you will be skiing on.
What are some basic techniques for telemark skiing?
Telemark skiing requires a different technique than alpine skiing. When making a turn, you must lead with your inside ski and bend your front knee while keeping your back leg straight. It is important to maintain balance and keep your body centered over your skis. Practice on gentle slopes first before attempting more challenging terrain. It is also important to use proper pole plants and to keep your weight centered over your skis.
How do I progress from beginner to intermediate telemark skiing?
To progress from beginner to intermediate telemark skiing, it is important to focus on building strength and balance. Practice on a variety of terrain, including groomed slopes and more challenging off-piste terrain. Work on perfecting your technique, including proper pole plants and weight distribution. Take lessons from a qualified telemark instructor who can help you improve your technique and provide guidance on progressing to more difficult terrain.
What are some common mistakes to avoid when telemark skiing?
Common mistakes to avoid when telemark skiing include leaning too far forward or back, not keeping your weight centered over your skis, and not using proper pole plants. It is also important to avoid twisting your upper body and to keep your hips facing downhill. Additionally, make sure to choose the appropriate ski length and width for your skill level and the terrain you will be skiing on. It is also important to wear proper ski attire and to always ski within your ability level.