Even if you were not sure what they were doing, you will have seen Telemark skiers making their way gracefully down the slopes with the distinctive freedom of movement which comes from having their boots attached to the skis only at the toes. |
The beauty of the Telemark skiing style is often a hot topic of conversation at the tables of ski lodges and catered chalets in the evening after a long day on the slopes, and more and more skiers are succumbing to the temptation to have a go at this Nordic skiing style.
So What is Telemark Skiing?
Telemark skiing, named after the Telemark region of Norway, where the skiing style is thought to have originated, is a combination of Nordic skiing, with its free-heel movement, and Alpine or downhill skiing. In Telemark skiing the boots are similar to Alpine boots with their heavy rigid structure. The skis are shorter and heavier than other Nordic skis to give the skier greater control when going downhill. The difference is that the boots are able to bend at the ankle allowing the skier to bend their knee more fully as they turn.
It is this increase in control provided by the rigid boot which enables the skier to reach greater speeds and produce more controlled turns than in other Nordic disciplines like cross-country.
Because of the free-heel, learning to ski on Telemark skis requires some practice for an Alpine skier. The main difference is the distinctive pulling back of the uphill ski as you go into a turn, allowing both knees to bend fully.
Derived from the Nordic skiing style in which the ski boot is attached to the bindings only at the toe, leaving the heel free to move, Telemark skis are shorter and edged more like downhill skis. The shorter length and sharper edges enable the skier to reach faster speeds, more like a downhill skier, and to make sharper turns than with other Nordic skis.
Recent Rise in Popularity
Despite having been around for over 100 years, Telemark skiing has had a resurgence in popularity over the last few decades largely attributed to American skiers Doug Buzzell, Craig Hall, Greg Dalbey, Jack Marcial and Rick Borkovec in Colorado in the 1970s. The American skiers became fascinated by the style and reintroduced it to modern leisure skiers enjoying recreational ski holidays in catered chalets and apartments at resorts around the world.
With the introduction of snowboarding to the world’s ski resorts over the last thirty years many skiers have wanted to try something new and exciting in their own sport and these increasingly adventurous skiers have been drawn to Telemark skiing.
The appeal of mastering a new ‘form’ of skiing, of coming home to their catered chalets with tales of new adventures on new skis has meant that Telemark skiing has become a common sight on many of today’s ski slopes. Skiers tempted by the elegance and freedom of movement of Telemark skiing are becoming a delightfully regular sight.
Belinda Smythson works for Ski Amis, a specialist ski travel agency and booking service that has been helping avid skiers craft their perfect winter holiday for over a quarter of a century. If you're looking for the best catered chalet accommodation in the Three Valleys, Paradiski, Espace Killy or Chamonix Valley, Ski Amis is the go-to company for winter sports fans searching for the holiday of a lifetime.
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