What Are Telemark Cross Country Skis?

What Are Telemark Cross Country Skis?
Many telemark skiers enjoy getting out where the slopes aren't groomed. Designed for "free heel" skiing on downhill terrain as well as for working in powder, telemark skis bear a great deal of resemblance to alpine skis, although they have some common traits with cross country skis.


Telemark skis are designed for skiing and turning on a slope. They tend to be long, with a very subtle hourglass shape (the sidecut) and edges similar to those on alpine skis. Ski length depends on the type of terrain the skier anticipates: long skis are good on steep slopes, shorter skis work on bumps.


Telemark bindings are available in a few general configurations. As the name suggests, 3-pin bindings fit pins into three holes in the ski boot; leather boots work best with these bindings. Three-pin plus cable bindings feature three pins at the toe and a flexible cable around the heel for greater stability. NTN (New Telemark Norm) bindings are an integrated system of boot and binding.


Edging is very important in telemark skiing, so boots tend to be more substantial than cross country boots; on the other hand, the free heel technique demands a flexible boot. Skiers who enjoy cross country skiing often prefer softer leather boots; plastic boots provide more support in turns.


Telemark skiers turn by dropping their hips directly over their skis, sliding their downhill ski forward of their uphill ski, balancing on the ball of the uphill foot and raising that heel. They alternate lead changes down the hill.


Telemark style skiing dates to the 19th century in Norway. The technique lost popularity until the 1970s, when it started to make a comeback. The equipment has changed over the years, although the sport remains very much the same.

Article Written By Colleen Morrison

Colleen Morrison has been writing professionally for two decades. She holds an M.A. from the University of Wyoming and a Ph.D. in history from Arizona State University. She ghostwrites articles, blogs and Web content for her clients. Articles under her name appear at M&M, eHow, Golflink and other sites.

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