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Free the Heel, Free the Mind: Learning to telemark?

Home / Good Advice for skiers / Free the Heel, Free the Mind: Learning to telemark?

If you’ve been skiing a while, you may well have seen people telemark skiing. At first you might think they’re skiing… but then you see their heels lift up and away from the ski and their body take on a rather graceful lunge position as they make turns. Well, this is what you’ll see if you spot a good telemarker, anyway! While it may be dwindling in popularity compared to its booming cousin, Alpine skiing, telemarking is actually super fun, really good for you and a great way to improve your Alpine ski technique. Our lead telemark instructor, TugWilson, explains…

‘Last weekend was an unusual one for me. I am Tug Wilson, the lead ES telemark instructor, and it was unusual in the fact that I had not one, but TWO telemark lessons on the same day. In the morning I had a Swiss gentleman who had been taught to telemark by a friend, but was struggling to get the basic fundamentals firmly embedded into his muscle memory, and in the afternoon an eight-year-old boy for his second lesson.  The key fundamental of telemarking is the stance; once this has been mastered then you are well on your way.  This is where both clients initially had problems but after carrying out various drills and exercises it was beginning to become second nature to them. You are never too young, or old for that matter, to learn this graceful and enjoyable method of skiing.

Telemark European Snowsport

Telemarking: It’s all about the stance. Photo: Nick Reader

So why do I telemark?  I love the freedom of movement when flowing from turn to turn, the fact that I know if I am not accurate and precise it WILL result in a fall and, most importantly, I know it is improving my Alpine skiing. Telemarking improves your balance, rhythm, co-ordination and timing, all of which are vital for both disciplines. Yes, it does look painful doing lunges down the a busy piste or through the bumps, but once you have developed the necessary movement patterns and rhythms throughout the turn, the pain diminishes and it is replaced with a kind of euphoria. Honestly, it is. Would I lie to you!?

Telemark European Snowsport

Taking a lesson can go a long way to improving your technique. Photo: Nick Reader

If you are an accomplished Alpine skier and you are looking for a challenge, come and give it a go.  The boots are a lot more comfortable so, like the Swiss flag, that is a big plus! For the dads out there who feel like skiing with the family is too slow for them, why not telemark with the family instead? You will be skiing at the same pace but working slightly harder.  You will also be the coolest dad around.

Telemark European Snowsport

Telemarking is definitely one of the more graceful snow sports. Photo: Nick Reader

In my next blog I will give a brief history of telemark skiing and how we came to be the poor relations to fellow Alpine skiers.

Until then ‘free the heel and free the mind!’’

If you’d like to book a telemark lesson in Verbier with Tug, get in touch with us by phone or email! We’re available all the time to answer your questions and organise your lessons. If you’d like to learn to telemark in NendazSt. MoritzZermatt or Chamonix, just let us know and we’ll arrange it.
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Free the Heel, Free the Mind: Ever thought about learning to telemark?
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Free the Heel, Free the Mind: Ever thought about learning to telemark?
Our lead telemark instructor, Tug Wilson, explains why telemarking is great for the body and soul - and a great accompaniment to your Alpine skiing.
European Snowsport