What Are Telemark Skis?

What Are Telemark Skis?
Telemark skis are also called free heel skis. Unlike traditional alpine skis, Telemark skis are not attached at the heel, which explains the term "free heel."

Telemark History

The term Telemark actually comes from a section in Norway known as Telemark. In the 1860s, a local farmer by the name of Sondre Norheim created the Telemark turn. Norheim also created specialized binding straps for his skis.

Telemark vs. Alpine Skis

Although the lack of heel to boot attachment is the major distinguishing factor between Telemark and alpine skis, there are other significant differences. Telemark skis are usually lighter and more flexible than the traditional alpine skis. Additionally, the curve or sidecut of a Telemark ski is asymmetrical.

Telemark Bindings

There are three types of Telemark bindings. Three pin bindings are the oldest. These bindings have three pins that attach to three holes in the boots. Cable bindings attach the ski to the boot with a cable, and hinged plate bindings combine the lateral stability of an alpine ski binding with the flexibility of a Telemark binding.

Telemark Manufacturers

Today, most ski manufacturers also make a Telemark ski. Voile and Line are two of the most popular manufacturers of Telemark skis.

Telemark Ski Use

Although Telemark skis are often used on alpine slopes, they are also popular with back-country skiers. The lack of heel attachment facilitates easy climbing, and their flexibility is excellent for deep snow conditions.


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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