What is Telemarking?


The Telemark Turn

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The Telemark turn is the original and oldest way to turn skis where one ski then the other is advanced in front of the other.  Long ago, when skis were solid wood, very much longer and very difficult to turn, this technique in effect created one long ski with a variable radius and it was the only technique to change the direction of your skis without lifting them out of the snow and stepping them round.
You'll see in the photo above, the iconic Telemark image of the heel of the back foot being lifted off the ski. If you haven't seen anyone telemarking it looks something like a series of curtsies whilst stepping down the slope. Try walking downstairs in a zig-zag, changing direction on each step and you'll get the idea. tele sticker.jpgFor anyone new to skiing this stepping forwards can feel very natural and stable.
Now that we have modern skis that seemingly turn by just thinking about it, we don't need to use the Telemark turn to change direction any more, so why do we? There are a couple of jolly good reasons. The first one is because it feels fantastic. It's the nearest thing to soaring whilst still on the ground. Telemarking in powder is one of life's truely awesome experiences. There will be no wiping the smile off your face after you've done your first tele run in powder. If this isn't enough, it's great to have another skill. Telemarking on piste is good fun and it gives you more variety in your skiing.
England has some great Telemarkers taking part in FIS World Cup races with great success.
FIS World Cup Medal Winner - Jasmin Taylor
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Top 20 FIS World Cup Telemarker - Chris Stewart 


Telemark Myths



One myth about telemark skiing is that you don't have to Telemark everywhere. With modern equipment, someone on telemark gear, skiing parallel, will be indistinguishable from an alpine skier. In any case, you'll want to mix and match diffferent skiing techniques and styles to suit the different snow conditions. You really can do everything on Telemark gear that you can do on alpine gear but more. 


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There's absolutely no reason why free heels should keep you out of the terrain park either. You'll see kids on today's equipment skiing switch, doing jumps and doing everything that their chums can do on alpine gear.  Don't forget that ski jumpers covering well over 100 metres in mid air have free heels too!
Many Telemarkers are happy to ski on the piste and have no wish to take their Telemark skis over the ropes but when it comes to skiing off piste in search of telemark heaven there are those inevitable up slopes. Free heels allow you to get around much more easily and you'll wonder what took you so long to liberate them.
Exploration of the great outdoors awaits with your new found freedom.
Some claim that Telemark skiing is hard on the knees. Whilst all skiing is hard on the knees, don't forget that when you Telemark, one knee get's a rest in every turn!
Some of the English indoor snow centres now hire Telemark equipment so why not give it a try?
George Clinton
Photos  - Åsnes. Chris Stewart and Jasmin Taylor with their permission 
Updated - 20th December, 2013 T.CASA