Telemark Skiing

The avalanche bulletin rating of “considerable” was pretty much unchanged. Translated, that meant dangerous avalanche conditions, careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route finding and conservative decision-making was essential.  Add to that a local ski hill offering 85 cent lift tickets to celebrate 85 years of operation and you can guess how we spent our day.

Practice turns. Photo: B.Kopp

Skill-building days on downhill slopes can be a lot fun – especially with new snow. It’s easy – no packing up shovel, probe, beacon, emergency shelter, skins, extra clothes, and all the other mandatory backcountry gear – and it gives you time to focus on form without burning energy on ascent. I’m just getting back into telemarking and a full day to hone turns was a boon.

Skiing has been around for centuries, but telemarking – turning with one ski in front of the other, knees bent and heel raised on rear ski – was popularized in the late 1800’s by Norwegian Sondre Norheim. The ski turn was named for Telemark – the county in southern Norway where Norheim lived.

The sport has seen surges in popularity over the years – although we only saw one other telemarker on our ski hill play day.

Gear has advanced well beyond the leather boots and skinny skis of Norheim’s days. Plastic boots, shorter skis, and an increase in sidecut all help to make tele-turns easier to master.

One can only hope this is true!

For more info and education about the sport of telemark skiing, check out the United States Telemark Association or the North American Telemark Organization.

If you’re in the neighborhood:

Mar 4th – Mar 7th – Wyoming’s  5th Annual Grand Targhee Telemark Festival.
Mar 5th – Annual Telemark Festival at Pebble Creek Ski Area, Inkom, Idaho.
Mar 12th – Mar 13th – Vermont’s 36th Annual North American Telemark Festival at Mad River Glen.
Mar 19th – Reggae Telemark Festival in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.

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