The skis are kept parallel and pushed forwards and backwards to establish a lunging movement. When going downhill,
skiers bend at the knee on the rear ski. On the turns, the skis change places: the rear one comes forwards and the skier now bends at the knee on the other ski. With Telemark, as with cross-country skiing, only the toe of the boot is held
firmly in the binding, while the heel remains free to move.
This means that what you are most aware of is the speed, the snow beneath your skis and your own body. It's no wonder
that this is a sport that puts the thighs to the test. However, unlike with downhill skiing, here a great deal of tension
is generated in the muscles: impacts which, in alpine skiing, affect the knees, hips and spine, are absorbed by the muscles
in Telemarking. That in turn spares the joints.
The man who first introduced the Telemark lunge to the ski slopes in the 19th century was Sondre Norheim from
the province of Telemark in Norway. It was in around 1860 that he paved the way for skiing with his new developments:
tapered skis, sturdy bindings and boots, and the Telemark technique. As one of the oldest and probably purest forms of skiing, the technique has continued to develop from its earliest beginnings to the present day.
Between 1987 and 1996, the Telemark World Championship took place every year, and since then it has been a biennial event under the auspices of the FIS. Thanks to progress in skiing technology and new, ultra-modern bindings and boots, the sport of Telemarking has changed over the years, but the principle has remained the same. There has been a Telemark Association in Switzerland since 1989 which promotes and coordinates developments in the sport of Telemarking.
"In recent years Telemark has become more firmly established in Switzerland but it is still far from being a mass sport," writes Swiss Telemark.
Since Telemark continues to show steady, healthy growth, it cannot be dismissed as a passing trend. The increased popularity has been driven mainly by the existence of more qualified Telemark instructors, active clubs and a successful racing scene.
Skiing on these floppy skis calls for strength, stamina and good coordination and balance. It certainly also helps to have a strong streak of determination, because Telemark is not exactly easy to learn.
"You have to have the right kit for the right style of skiing."
The different styles of Telemark are distinguished by whether you want to do your Telemarking on a ski slope, off-piste or
generally anywhere. The basic equipment consists simply of Telemark boots, Telemark bindings and the right Telemark skis. For skiing off-piste, you also need touring skins, avalanche safety gear and protective equipment.
Would you like to learn this elegant skiing technique? In January and March 2020 at the Sunstar hotel in Saas-Fee, we'll be offering the perfect package, including private tuition, fine food and a massage.