Want Something Different? Try Telemark!

dsc_1518-800x536 by John Eames

In September 2016, BASI ran the first ‘Introduction to Telemark’ Continuous Professional Development (CPD) day at the Chill Factore, Manchester.

This was an opportunity for Alpine BASI Members to try Telemark and tick their CPD off. There was a group of eight and we could have had two groups of that size, such was the interest!

After meeting up and sorting out the kit (Tele’ skis with half a binding and boots that bend) we simply skied ploughs and parallels, getting used to the free-heel equipment and finding an improved ’centre’ over the skis. Then it was straight into teles – a bit of basic ‘curtseying’ on flat terrain and then we skied medium radius parallel turns down the slope with a bit of a tele’ traverse in between each turn.

As skills became established and confidence grew, the tele’ was introduced towards the end of each turn, just after passing through the fall-line, and then gradually sooner and sooner in the turn so the tele’ phase started in the fall-line and then before the fall-line. By the end of the afternoon, the parallel phase was eliminated and everyone was doing linked teles down the slope … to the appreciation (and envy?) of all the fixed heel skiers there!

We had a few breaks from this progression to do some developmental activities … and to do coffee and cake, of course! Everyone was skiing all day, with plenty of activity and – a point that was quickly realised by several in the group – the understanding that telemark is not something weirdly ‘different’, it is simply skiing! The skills are the same, the Fundamental Elements are the same and it is a whole lot more interesting and engaging than fixed heel skiing.

Several good reasons to do an ‘Intro to Tele’ CPD day:

  • “Always fancied it” – a telemark skier is always noticed on the pistes (always for the best of reasons!) and for many people they simply fancy having a go. This CPD day is a perfect chance to do so – with various side benefits as well.
  • “Trying before buying” – if you are considering options for your second discipline and Telemark is on that list then doing the Intro’ to Telemark CPD day is a perfect way of trying it before buying into a full, 5 day Level 1 course – and you gain a CPD credit in doing so!
  • Convenience – gaining a CPD credit that can be done ‘just down the road’ and during the summer so no impact on your snow season.
  • CPD credit – we all need to do them!
  • Something different to the usual CPDs – some of the group said how good it was to do a CPD that was different to those they had done before. It was a great way to broaden their experience and skills base, have new mental and physical challenges and so enhance their knowledge of skiing and performance from a new viewpoint.
  • Enhancing your Alpine skills – after skiing on free-heel skis most people, when they go back to their Alpine kit, feel as if they are skiing so much better! Understanding why that it is the case is valuable information to add to your skills knowledge and this will include being well ’stacked’ and centred over your feet (you can’t lean forward onto your boot cuffs with a free-heel!), ensuring a stronger core, better hand carriage and eye-line. In other words free-heel skiing demands greater accuracy in your skiing, something many national race teams have realised in the past, training on tele’ skis to help improve skier performance.

All the above were offered by the group that attended the inaugural day at Chill Factore. All felt the day was very beneficial, enjoyable and an enlightening experience and some were wondering about the possibility of a second day to develop from where we left off – they simply wanted to do more!

We aim to plan for a couple more ‘Intro to Tele’ days next summer, so keep an eye on the BASI web site. They will be held at the Chill Factore, Manchester, mainly because this is where there is a stock of telemark equipment for hire – and it is a pretty good slope too! The ski hire there should be able to accommodate most sizes but it could be that boots would need to be sourced elsewhere.

If you are interested in doing an ‘Intro to Telemark’ CPD day it would be best to contact the BASI office to find out the dates and be added to the list.

If you simply want to know more generally about Telemark skiing or anything more specifically to do with BASI Telemark then you are welcome to contact me direct via e-mail: john.eames@basi.org.uk

John Eames

BASI Telemark L3 and Telemark Trainer

BASI Board of Directors, Telemark Director