Telemark skiing, also known as free heel skiing, is becoming an ever popular form for those who enjoy a more flowing movement on the slopes. Telemark bindings enable a skier to lift his heel while making a turn and are used with special telemark boots that maintain the stiffness of a regular alpine boot, except for a flexible bellows between the toes and arch of the foot. This form of skiing naturally forces a person to use and strengthen muscles that aren't as often used in alpine skiing or snowboarding.
Thighs and Hamstrings
As studied by researchers at Padova University in Italy, telemark skiers use their thighs and hamstrings more so than alpine skiers. This can cause extra stress on skiers' hips, knees, ankles and toes if proper technique and muscle strength are not kept in top shape. When skiers make a turn they keep most of their weight on one leg ski at a time, whichever one is dominant depending on direction. In alpine skiing the weight is not completely even on both skis either but maintains a less dramatic ratio. The thighs and hamstrings will feel a burn pretty quick if you are new to the free heel turn. Doing exercises, such as wall sits, can help strengthen these muscles.
When bending into a telemark turn, the calves are also used, though perhaps not as much as the thighs and hamstrings. Depending on the pitch of the slope being skied and the stiffness of the cartridges on the telemark bindings, the calves may have to work harder. Having properly fitted boots can help relieve unnecessary straining of the calves.
Abdominals and Shoulders
Telemark skiers must constantly shift their center of gravity as they change leads when making their turns. Balance becomes easier by maintaining a lower center of gravity. This is not only done by using the legs more extensively but also by keeping a strong core. Strong abdominal muscles and upper arms are traits of telemark skiers who are on their skis a lot. Proper technique includes keeping the arms out in front of the body to make regular pole plants and to help direct the rest of the body when turning.
Article Written By Naomi Judd
Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.