Telemark Skiing Newbie

Kate Hourihan, Alta Ski Area
Kate Hourihan, Alta Ski Area. (Photo: Tom Bear)

I’m heading into my third telemark skiing season which means that I still a total newbie. But I can’t wait for the snow to fly!

I’ve started dry land training, exercises specific to telemark that I will share in another post soon. And I’ve been cycling since last spring when the ski season ended and I went under the knife for inguinal hernia surgery. Ouch!

I’m going to shed some ink this winter as I push my telemark skiing skills to the next level. (Or die trying…) I’d like to get pointers from readers that will help me hack the tele learning curve, so please share your wisdom.

What is Telemark Skiing?

In order to kick this series off, let’s begin at the beginning. What the heck is telemark skiing?

Though telemark skiing dates back to the 1860s, the sport saw a revival in the 1970s as alpine gear became sturdier, stronger, and heavier, which hindered skiers’ ability to tour in the backcountry.

A telemark setup, by comparison, uses a binding system that keeps the heel free and is defined by turns with a bent knee and a smooth, low lunge. This “free-heel” system remained light and comfortable, providing backcountry enthusiasts the ability to walk uphill with their skis on. (Blister Gear Review)

Telemark Skiing (Photo: Wikipedia)

This article (which is actually mostly focused on a detailed overview of the sort of gear you need for telemark skiing) goes on to explain that many telemark skiing enthusiasts “came to the sport because they wanted a new challenge” which is one of the biggies motivating me.

Why Did I Switch to Telemark?

I’d been an alpine skier for about 25 years, and I was ready for something new. I liked the idea of exercising, stretching, and strengthening my body while skiing instead of beating it up. As I’ve gotten older I’ve been aware that the constant compressive impact of alpine skiing isn’t necessarily the best thing for my body. Telemark skiing, though it is muscle-maxing and cardio-exhausting, makes me feel great! Sure, I’ll be [insanely] sore for the first week or so, but then my body starts to grow stronger and better acclimated to the high mountain exercise.

So for me telemark skiing offers a new challenge, a “healthier” alternative to alpine skiing, and a bit of an equalizer with my bride so that we can ski together more often. Win, win, win.

Next time I’ll pass along the telemark skiing dry land exercises I mentioned above. Until then, cheers!


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