Telemark skiing, also known as free heel skiing, uses skis with a binding that connects the boot in a fashion similar to cross-country skiing, connecting the boot to the ski at only the toes. Telemark skiing has its own type of turning and requires specialized equipment.
The Telemark Turn
In telemark skiing, the downhill-facing ski leads the turn and the uphill ski trails behind while dropping the uphill knee.
Telemark skis resemble alpine skies but are very different in their weight distribution. To get started in telemark skiing you must have skis that are specific to telemark skiing.
Telemark boots are more flexible than alpine boots, allowing for the deep-knee-bend characteristic of the telemark turn. Telemark boots were traditionally made out of leather but are now typically made out of plastic.
There are several shapes and styles of telemark bindings. The traditional three-pin binding is still used by many skiers, but most people now choose cable or hinged-plate bindings.
Many people decide to learn how to telemark ski with the goal of eventually skiing in the backcountry. Backcountry skiing requires avalanche safety knowledge as well as specialized gear, including climbing skins, shovels, and transceivers.