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What's the difference between Telemark, Randonee, and Cross Coutry skiing?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
No one's given me an answer to this question before so....i thought someone here might answer it for me

post #2 of 20
Telemark (a.k.a nordic downhill) - Free heel skiing on skis with metal edges (anything from skinny skis to short carving boards). Skins can be put on the skis for climbing slopes in the back country. But most tele skiers use lift serve. However, most bc skiers will be on tele gear.

Randonee - It's mostly a binding set-up that allows the heel to free up for climbing and accessing bc (with skins). But the heel can lock in, and the skis can then be skied as normal alpine gear. You'll probably only see this stuff in the bc, because it's pointless to have it on lift serv areas.

X/C - (a.k.a. nordic skate). Free heel, long skinny skis, short (low) soft boots. This is for people who don't generally use gravity, and in a lot of cases, use prepared x/c trails at x/c ski areas. The skis don't have metal edges.
post #3 of 20
Telemark - A type of turn named after the place were it was invented (Telemark, Norway). In this turn, the inside knee drops low and the inside ski drops back creating a high degree of fore-aft stability (and the heel of that foot comes up). Telemark gear is designed to accommodate this technique with a toe piece that holds the toe securely and a strong cable that wraps around the heel pulling it into the toe-piece (giving it more stability). Unlike cross country, telemark gear is designed for skiing down steeper and more aggressive slopes. Metal edge skis with smooth surfaces (just like alpine skis) are used. Also capable of climbing uphill or across flat terrain with skins attached to the bases (synthetic fur that is smooth one way, rough he other allowing forward slide but traction when pushing back. these are put on and taken off as needed).

Cross County - Free heel like telemark gear, but much lighter (faster, requires less energy). This gear is not as as strong as telemark gear and does not accommodate aggressive downhill skiing. Bindings lock in toe, but do not have a cable (much less stability) and skis usually do not have a metal edge (not good edge control). Often these skis have "fish scales" or special wax that allows forward slide but traction when pushing back. Cross country skiing is about touring rolling hills and flatter terrain.

Randonee - Also called "Alpine Touring" or "AT". The heel can be free to climb or cross flat terrain, but locked to descend using the typical alpine skiing parallel turn. Skins used just as with telemark for backcountry access. these are lighter than alpine gear, but typically heavier than telemark gear (thought he gap is closing). Suitable for aggressive, steep terrain (like tele, but unlike cross country).

Hope that helps!
post #4 of 20
Randonee French for "Can't tele."

Cross Country Combining all the worst elements of alpine skiing.

Telemark A city in Norway.
post #5 of 20
Let me take Mello's question one further and ask whether an alpine skier who wants to get into Backcountry skiing should be taking up Telemark or should go with Randonee/AT? Am I correct that Randonee/AT is an easier transition? Does Telemark permit you to do things out of bounds that Randonee skills and equipment will not permit you to do?
post #6 of 20
To Pinner: Telemark is not a city in Norway, but a county.
The Telemarkskiing has it`s name from here because the pioneer, and probaly the inventer of the telemarkswing, came frome here. His name was Sondre Nordheim.
post #7 of 20
To JW: You would probaly enjoy randonee skiing the best in the start if your used to alpine skis. I my self only ski telemark all the time. I think it`s a lot more challedging and free way of skiing. And it has it`s clear advatedges when your far out in the backcontry. Tele equipment is a lot easyer to move about on than randonee gear. And makes it easyer to get to the mountan, and up on it. But you have to reemember that there are a lot of different freeheeling gear. Stiffer boots has made it possible to use almost any kind of skis as telemarkskis. I my self use a pair of fat rossignol alpineskis whit the chilli binding. The only thing to remeber Is that skis for telemarking should be a bit softer than alpine skis. What I would suggest for you is maybe to buy a pair of Skyhigh bindings. Thees are a new kind of stepin telebindings that you can lock in the back and use as a alpinebinding. Very simmilar to the randoneebindings. So if you feel your out of controll doing telemark swings, just loock the heel. Also reemember that there are lot lot of different boots, some very high and stiff, not so comfy to trek in, and there are the lower moddels better for this task. But always buy plastic boots.

Skydiving skifreek.
post #8 of 20
Telemark gear definitely has an edge on flat or rolling terrain, but randonee is somewhat more efficient for straightforward ascents. Randonee/alpine touring gear is exactly the same as alpine downhill gear on the descent, so you won't have to make any learning transition. But telemark skiing definitely has a certain appeal to some people, so maybe try taking a lesson at a lift-served area, and if you get hooked, then that can be your backcountry choice.

The Skyhoy (not "Skyhigh") tele binding has many problems:
-- very heavy for backcountry usage;
-- very high failure rate in its first year;
-- propensity to chew up certain boots; and,
-- a flex pattern that some people don't like.
And no, it does *NOT* lock down for fixed-heel skiing. (That originally was a talked-about upgrade, but it is no longer on the drawing boards.) The Skyhoy once it's refined may well be the future of telemark skiing, but the future clearly hasn't quite arrived yet.
post #9 of 20
I used randonee gear for years and recently switched to telemark. I found that randonee gear is definitely easier to switch over to from alpine gear (than tele), but my experience was that constantly switching from full alpine gear to randonee gear was difficult because (and Jonathan and I have debated this before in this forum) the forward tilt on both alpine bindings and under the sole of alpine boots is far greater than on randonee gear (and I used the randonee gear best suited for descents, not touring - Fritchi bindings and Denali boots). This was a big problem when hop-turing my randonee gear down steep slopes -- the tail of the skis did not come down where I expected them and I would end up way to far int he backseat. I don't think it would have been a big problem if I only used the randonee gear, but switching back and forth was a problem.

I have found it much easier to climb (with skins) in tele gear since you can place weight on the ski easier (the entire ball of the foot, rather than only on the pivot point where the hinge is). Tele gear is lighter too. The only downside I've found to tele (besides the new learning curve) is that hiking (without skis) in the boots on steep terrain is not nearly as good.

Regardles, it is all fun, so pick something and get out there!
post #10 of 20
To Jonathan Shefftz:
I`m sorry if I`ve given some bad advice, but I was pretty sure that the skyhøyII binding was on the marked, and with the abillity to lock the heel.
By the way "Skyhøy" is Norwegian and meens: SKYHIGH......
post #11 of 20
The ramp angles of my Fritschi Diamir alpine touring bindings and my Atomic 614 alpine downhill bindings are very similar. In fact, the difference is far less than between my current Atomic 614 and my old Look TT09 turntable (before modification) alpine downhill bindings.

As for my Garmont GSM alpine touring boots, with the addition of a heel lift, and using the second forward lean setting, the angles seem the same as my Rossignol Course KX alpine downhill boots (though this is more difficult to measure precisely).

Perhaps alpine touring gear on average has different angles than alpine downhill gear, but the difference between the two categories is less than the variation *within* alpine downhill gear. Furthermore, all these angles can be modified, and moreover *should* be modified, since the probability that the built-in angles match up with your specific morphology's needs are slim to none.
post #12 of 20
Einar, thanks for the Norwegian lesson -- I always did wonder what Skyhoy was supposed to mean!

And too bad the lock-down feature appears to be a long way off, since a hybrid tele/rando binding might be the best of both worlds. (Or conceivably the worst, but either way, we'll have to wait...)
post #13 of 20
I think what I'll do here is 1)try to find a randonee setup with bindings and boots as closely approximating those as I use for alpine; 2) try to find a class for some basic backcountry instruction; and 3) take a telemark lesson somewhere along the line. thanks for the great replies.
post #14 of 20
Telemarking is not that hard to learn, go thrash around the hill a bit you'll find you pick it up in no time.
post #15 of 20
If anyone would like to try randonee, I would recomend the Fritchi Daimir binding, as
it can be used with ordinary downhill boots
as well as the randonee type boots.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Ivar The Engine (edited February 16, 2001).]</FONT>
post #16 of 20

AT/Randonee. is the way to go for sure. 100%... 


This was not historically the case perhaps; however gear has evolved and there is no question. There is certainly a romance and an "old boys club" appeal to the tele quest but it is not nearly as practical. Tele is way more physically demanding and energy draining. it rakes longer to get good. Pretty amazing rides can be had on tele and you can even catch the gurus doing pretty gnarly freestyle/aerial stuff BUT- the learning curve is bloody awful steep. I can ski way more intense stuff on my AT gear than many Tele skiers who are technically far superior to me. more control more power, and less exhausting. 


The newer binding systems (especially the "tech" like dynafit and G3 have been pumping out) are light strong and DIN adjustable(in some models) I have been using the Onyx, they are a little heavier but i can free my heels without stepping out. they are phenomenal for exploring and i have had no issues riding either. if you plan on doing a lot of exploring you can even get boots that can unlock to have rearward flex for cross-country sections. lots of options.


Last winter a buddy of mine, who has only ever Telemark skied, switched with me to try out the AT system. he was overwhelmed by how much easier and how much more power he had. 


Getting around the mountains is a dynamic venture, I find that AT is the best fit for ski mountaineering. I will say that if you do pull off a really clean tele turn it feels pretty awesome, and you can try to get street cred for doin shit the hard way.


just my two cents 

post #17 of 20
post #18 of 20
post #19 of 20

Maybe I missed it, but where do you slot backcountry / blazing your own trail?  I guess it could be any of the above...


I'm thinking of folks who ski on fields, golf courses (fore!), lakes, or just anywhere there is ungroomed trails.  They may be hauling a sled, or just exploring.  For the folks not living in mountainous regions, there isn't much downhill/turning, so telemark wouldn't apply.

post #20 of 20
I had a brief affair with telemark skis a long, long time ago, and spent a winter working at Purgatory (DMR) and swooping around every chance I got. I love alpine skiing, but I'll tell you, nothing I have ever experienced, not even my best day on Alpine skis, has felt as hedonistic as lift served telemark turns. Oh, what a useless bum I was, going against every turn-earning bone in my body...

Okay, thread hijack over.
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