At Maison Sport we are continually thinking about how to improve our customer experiences and given the fact that most ski resorts in Europe are closed at the moment, we decided to add three new disciplines for you to choose from our website, Ski Touring, Telemark, and Cross-Country-Skiing. Last week we gave you a beginner’s guide to Ski Touring for those of you who wanted to know more about it, and this week we want to do the same for Telemark in case you want to give it a try.
Given the incredible amount of snow ski resorts are getting all across Europe we want to still give you the opportunity to enjoy a day out on the mountains, and we think to be able to do that while also learning a new sport can be a great experience. So here is all you need to know about Telemark to get you started.
What is Telemark?
Telemark is a ski discipline dating all the way back to the 19th century, introduced by a man named Sondre Norheim from the Telemark region of Norway...hence the name. This technique is quite peculiar in the sense that skiers complete their turns in an unusual way which is why if you’ve seen them on the slopes then we are sure you’ll remember them. The main characteristic about Telermark is the turn, they do a kneeling motion, their inside leg drops as the heel rises detached from the ski. Just as in ski touring, in Telemark the ski boot is only attached to the ski by the front, leaving the heel free to rise and fall in order to give the skier the ability to properly kneel when turning.
Ski lifts are not a must when it comes to telemark skiing because you can easily trek your way up the mountain since your binding will allow you to lift your heels in order to walk forward, which is what makes it so appealing to many of us at this moment. You can also use some of the same equipment as in ski touring such as skins for the bottom of your skis in order to be able to trek uphill and then remove them and enjoy the ride.
How Difficult is Telemark?
Compared to other disciplines, telemark can be more challenging and requires more physical effort, but this doesn’t mean it’s impossible. The challenging thing about telemark is the knee bend during the turns. If you’ve seen someone telemark skiing, it’s like their bodies are in a constant flowing motion which is what makes it look so elegant. An easy way to picture the movement is by picturing forward leg lunges, you can think of telemark as doing leg lunges as you’re gliding downhill…how cool would that look right?
This being said, picturing yourself doing leg lunges while on skis, and going downhill can seem like a lot, but as a beginner, you won’t go down steep hills and it will be all about getting the right technique down and slowly but surely your muscles will start to get used to the motions and build resistance. As with any other sport, if you exercise regularly then telemark can be easier, but really anybody can do it, it just takes time and practice, and at the end of the day, a full day of telemark skiing is better than any gym session with a personal trainer, and the views are definitely better.
Take your Time: Getting the technique just right is crucial when you’re going telemark skiing, not only because that’s what it’s all about but also because not doing it right can be even more challenging on your body and you might be putting your body through unnecessary efforts. Take your time to learn with your instructor, really focus on understanding the position your skis should be in when turning and how the movements should be flowing when lunging and rising. Once you have this down the correct way, you will see that it won’t take as much effort as before.
Enjoy the Experience: Telemark is about learning the new technique but also about the uphill backcountry trekking to the top of the mountain, you get to walk through nature and take in the views of the off-piste forest. Enjoy the way up and much as you enjoy the run downhill, the good thing about ski lifts being closed is that it’s forcing everyone who wants to ski to have to walk up the mountains and discover new territory, so enjoy your time in nature.
Embrace the Burn: Telemark is an excellent workout, you are working not only your legs but also engaging your core and upper body, as I keep saying, it’s a constant flow of movement, and these movements engage your whole body. You will definitely start feeling the burn especially in your upper thighs, but just think about your gains, you are gaining a new level of fitness and learning something new as you go.
Find the Right Instructor: As with any sport you want to learn, it is super important to make sure you have the right instructor to show you the “how-to’s”, and telemark is no different. The right instructor will know the correct way to get you started also depending on your fitness level and previous abilities. There are some sports you could give it a try with no instructor, telemark shouldn’t be one, as you know by now, it’s all about that lunging technique so you really want someone to help you nail that.
Make Sure You Can Move: The range of movement when you are telemark skiing is a lot greater than when you’re alpine skiing so make sure you have clothes on that allow you to fully lunge and do all the correct movements needed. People tend to go for clothes that minimize mass and at the same time maximize flexibility and still keep you warm.
The equipment you’ll need for telemark is quite similar to ski-touring equipment, we always recommend renting instead of buying the first few times you try out this sport because the equipment is different than regular alpine skiing. If you are just trying out the sport because ski lifts are closed but you plan to go back to alpine skiing next season then definitely rent instead of buying, but if later on, you develop a passion for it then it is worth it investing in a good set of equipment.
If you are going for a long hike in the backcountry, we also recommend taking the proper avalanche equipment which you can read about in detail in our Ski Touring blog here.
For telemark skiing this is the main equipment needed:
Now, you have all the information you need to give this new sport a go, it’s the perfect chance to get out of your comfort zone and try something which you usually wouldn’t think about. If you’re looking for a challenge then telemark is the way to go, challenge yourself physically and discover what your body can do by learning one of the oldest techniques of skiing invented. Here are some of the instructors that are available for telemark lessons, check them out!
To book your Telemark instructor head on over to Maison Sport, choose your resort, the dates, and the discipline you want to learn, and find the independent instructor that’s right for you!
The Maison Sport Instructors are Waiting for You!
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