What Is Telemark Skiing?

What Is Telemark Skiing?
Telemark skiing is also know as free-heeled skiing. In contrast to the skis used for alpine skiing, Telemark ski bindings do not attach at the heel. Thus, the term "free-heeled skiing."

Telemark Skiing History

Telemark skiing gets its name from the region where it was developed; the Telemark region of Norway. In 1868, a local farmer by the name of Sondre Norheim was credited for developing a smooth, fluid turn, which was eventually called the Telemark turn.

The Telemark Ski

Eventually, Norheim invented the curved ski, as well as bindings that connected to the ski with willow heel bands. Although the ski manufacturer Elan is usually credited with "inventing" the shaped ski, Norheim actually developed the idea over 100 years earlier.

The Telemark Turn

Upon initiation of a Telemark turn, the outside or downhill ski is placed slightly ahead of the inside or uphill ski as it moves in the direction of the turn. Meanwhile, the heel of the inside ski is lifted, and the knee is bent as if performing a lunge.

The Telemark Revival

While nobody is absolutely certain of what prompted the Telemark skiing revival in the United States, some credit it to the "back to nature" movement of the 1970s. Apparently, a group of skiers at Crested Butte, in Colorado, wanted to experience natural snow, which did not exist within the confines of the resort. Since traditional alpine skis were not sufficient for the deep snow in the backcountry area, they used Telemark skis.

Telemark Today

As more people become interested in backcountry skiing, many found that Telemark skis are more efficient for climbing, since they are not attached at the heels.


Article Written By Lisa Mercer

In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.

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