What is Telemarking?
The term telemarking simply refers to a type of ski turn. Its made using 'free heel' bindings which don't fix your heel to the ski, both bindings and boots flex at the ball of your foot. It is a fluid and graceful style of turning with both knees flexed forward, one behind the other, as the skier goes into a turn, giving the view of skier lowering himself down onto the ski going in, then rising up coming out of it. Its a tricky style of skiing to master but feels fantastic!
Although its possible to make Telemark turns when using Nordic style cross country skis, these are designed for gentle, rolling terrain. We use the term Telemarking to refer to Alpine Telemark skiing which focuses on steeper down hill skiing in Alpine terrain.
The modern telemarker uses alpine skis, plastic boots which have a flexable bellows across the forefoot and a powerful binding system. There are two main styles of binding which dominate the telelmark world. The older style is the 75mm 'duck bill' system, this uses boots with a protrusion at the front (hence the name duck bill). The duck bill toe pushes into the binding and is fixed by either 3 pins and a clamp at the toe, or by a cable that runs around the heel of the boot. The pictures below show a classic 75mm cable binding and a Scarpa T1 75mm tele boot, you can see the duck bill in front of the toe.
The system that has become the most popular across Europe is the NTN (New Telemark Norm). This system gives you a step in function, brakes, an adjustable release setting in the event of a fall and excellent control of the skis. The versatility of this system enables the skier to use either telemark or parallel turns and the boots no longer have the 'duck bill' 75mm extended toe, making walking around and climbing off the skis easier and more comfortable. Here at Backcountry UK we are big fans of the NTN system and as a result we stopped selling 75mm boots and bindings 4 years ago. Below is a picture of a modern NTN boot and binding and a NTN freeride binding on its own.
Give us a call or email if you're interested in finding out more about telemark equipment or boot / binding compatibility.
If you are interested in learning to Telemark the Manchester Cross Country Ski Club are a very friendly and active group of Telemark skiers and coaches who regularly meet at the Chill Factore Ski Centre, get in touch with them to find out about thier program.