Telemark skiing is a downhill snowsport. In contrast to alpine skiing, the bindings only fasten the boots at the toe, leaving the heels free, much like cross-country ski bindings.
Invented by Sondre Norheim, Telemark was pioneered in Norway and named after the Telemark region where Norheim lived. Using the telemark technique the skier bends the uphill leg until the knee is level with the downhill ankle causing the downhill ski to be in front of the uphill one, this is done while moving across the slope. To make a turn the skier straightens his bent uphill leg and moves it in front of the downhill ski. He then partially bends the down hill leg and swings around until it becomes the uphill leg and he is traveling across the slope in the other direction. To other skiers it looks like the telemarker is lunging whilst skiing alpine style. The balance of the skier is centered at the heel as otherwise he would fall flat on his face. Naturally it is more difficult than alpine skiing and beginners to snow sports should not start with Telemark, but progress on to it.
Telemark skiing demands more skill than alpine skiing, but it is more enjoyable downhill yet it is ideal for covering rolling terrain as it is easy to walk up hills with loose heel. Telemark has a much smoother feel to the turn and has an elegance to it where the skier certainly feels closer to the snow. Skis with Telemark bindings are available across the Alps and of course in Scandinavia. Some ‘free-heeled’ skiers are comfortable using lifts in Alpine resorts yet others feel that Telemark is about being back to basics and like to ski tour up the mountain using skins. This provides opportunities to ski down untouched snow in a completely natural landscape, however the dangers are greater than on marked pistes. Telemark does not require any different terrain to alpine skiing.
Telemark skiing is a skiing technique that combines elements of Alpine and Nordic skiing. Telemark skiing is named after the Telemark region of Norway, where the discipline originated. Sondre Norheim is often credited for first demonstrating the turn in ski races, which included cross country, slalom and jumping, in Norway around 1868. Sondre Norheim also experimented with ski and binding design, introducing side cuts to skis and heel bindings (like a cable).
Telemark skiing was reborn in 1971 in the United States. Doug Buzzell, Craig Hall, Greg Dalbey, Jack Marcial and Rick Borcovec are credited with reintroducing the style after reading the book Come Ski With Me by Stein Eriksen. Telemark skiing gained popularity during the 1970s and 1980s. The appeal of Telemark skiing lies in access: long pieces of synthetic fabric, known as skins, can be attached to the bottom of the skis to allow travel uphill. With the invention of light-weight alpine touring (A.T.) skis, however, telemark skiing is decreasing in popularity.
Telemark skiing uses a specialized type of equipment. Generally, Telemark skiers use flexible Alpine skis with specially designed bindings that fix only the toe of the ski boot to the ski, thereby creating the “free heel”. Oftentimes the heel is attached to the front of the binding by a hinged cable, which holds the ski boot firmly in the binding. These bindings are often non-releasable.
There are mainly two types of turns, common to both alpine and telemark skiing:
Cutting turns are common at lower speeds, and mean that the ski is angled / transverse to some extent in the speed direction. By putting pressure on the outer skier, the athlete will start the swing and then switch to a new turn by gradually rising up, swapping the foot position, and then putting increased pressure on the new outer skier. The pressure on the outer ski is important, and must be adjusted according to your own skills and the firmness of the snow cover. Loosely driving requires a somewhat different weight distribution than when driving in prepared trails. Here, rhythm / timing and spelling (“pole plant”) will be important.
Cutting turns can be performed at higher speeds and require the ski equipment to be carving . The swing is carried out by angling both skis against the ground, and the skis will adhere to the pressure of the skier and bend so that a swing is formed by the profile which the ski does against the ground. Unlike slanting turns, cutting turns will say that the skis of the skier will be two parallel lines.
For a beginner, sliding turns will be the first to be learned, and the easiest to do. Cutting turns require safety at higher speeds, as well as a well-rehearsed position.
The position above the skis is important for pressure distribution and stability. This applies to both sliding and cutting turns, although a somewhat more upright position is common in areas of lower intensity. In addition, it is also advantageous to have a certain distance between the skis, so that a stable platform is obtained; This is beneficial for mating unexpected bumps or making quick take-offs in the ground.
On the outer skier, the ski boot should stand flat on the ski, and provide background for the precisely lonely position. On the other hand, the toe portion of the back boot must be bent, as with ordinary cross-country skiing technique.
Originally made popular as a mode of backcountry transportation, Telemark skiing is now a World Cup sport focused on carving. At its core, the Telemark discipline combines elements of Alpine racing, Nordic skate skiing, and ski jumping. World Cup Telemark is offered in a number of race formats, including Classic, Sprint Classic, and Parallel Sprint. A typical Classic Telemark race involves a jump that must be landed in a lunged position, a series of gates, a skate section, and a 360 degree banking turn known as the reipeløkke.
Telemark Racing were governed by the International Telemark Federation (ITF) until 1995, when Telemark skiing was officially recognized by the Federation International de Ski Telemark committee (FIS). The first FIS Telemark World Championships were held at Hafjell, in Lillehammer, Norway.
Today, Telemark Racing is organized by FIS and by national sport committees such as the United States Telemark Ski Association, and the British Telemark Ski Team.
The FIS Telemark Committee announce that their proposal for Telemark Parallel Sprint and Team Parallel Sprint is to be included in a FIS proposal to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The proposal was approved by the International Ski Federation (FIS) at the Congress held in Costa Navarino (Greece) May 2018. However, in a July ruling, the IOC voted not to include the Telemark Parallel Sprint in the 2022 Beijing Games.