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post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
After seeing numerous experts carve gracefully down the slopes on their telemark gear, I was wondering what the pros and cons of telemarking are? At this point I am an alpine skiier only, but as I progress and get more $$$ for gear in the future, I'm sure I'll be looking for more different ways to tear up the slopes. (I am VERY doubtful that I'll try boarding since I can pull tricks inthe park on my skiblades...) In short, telemarkers let me know what I'm missing and/or what you give up my telemarking.
post #2 of 12
For what looked like a really easy question, I really don't have much of an answer.

I had wanted to try it for several years but never did. One summer myself and another friend decided we were going to learn to tele that next season so we bought some used gear off of the 'net and just went out the first day the next season. No lessons, no nothing, just two idiots saying "Well I've seen other people do it before so I'll just do what they did". Actually it worked out pretty well, we were skiing blues that first day and laughing our asses off at each other falling all the time. It helped that both of us had 20+ years alpine experience and could always bail to parallel skiing if we needed to. That first season it was so different to be challenged again at the local areas, it opened up new frontiers.

I went both ways (alpine & tele) for the first 3 seasons. I've still got the alpine equipment, but I've only been on it twice in the last 3 seasons. I love telemarking but I really can't tell you why. My buddy, has gone in the opposite direction though. He hasn't been on his teles in the last 3 seasons, originally because he was coming back from an injury and teaching his son how to ski but even without those as excuses he hasn't come back to tele. So, obviously it isn't the be all and end all for everyone who tries it. I also spent a couple of seaons learning to board (fairly well) but that just didn't hold my interest, so its not just that tele was something different.

I guess I originally started because it was getting old blowing down my local hill in 30 seconds and being able to ski the most challenging line I could find without really trying. In the Southeast I think that is why most of the skiers start telemarking, the short, easy slopes are conducive to making you want to try something new. Tele skiing is more physically taxing (especially intitially) than alpine and I still (after 5 seasons) have a lot of work to do on my skills even though I am comfortable skiing anything out West on my teles that is short of the insanity level. Double blacks at Snowbird push the envelope for me, and anything with a mandatory air involving either high consequences from a fall or greater than 5-6' drop are out of the question.

There's just something about the feeling of carving that teleturn, or being out on a not so deep powder day when everyone else is shin deep but you get to feel the pow against your thighs, or a deeper day when you disappear into the snow on every turn when everyone else is just getting face shots. If I were really a writer I could find better words to explain all the sensations and emotions involved; instead I'm just a simple tele-skier. So you'll just have to live with this explanation; telemarking has soul for me. You'll know after you try it if it holds the same for you.
post #3 of 12
Pros: The Aesthetic of the turn (and it changes 1 foot of powder into the equivalent of 2 feet of powder because you get so much lower).

Cons: All practical considerations (at left-served resorts, anyway)

Tele is more tiring and has a smaller range of error on sketchy terrain, but it is just sooooo fun.

Tele provides a better connection with the mountain since there's more feedback through the boot when you are flexed on the ball of your foot rather than frozen in a cast, and it's more dynamic (more directions and ranges of motion). So in summary, it's aesthetic, not practical. But it is such a cool feeling!

It's fly-fishing vs. bait fishing with a reel

It's sailing vs. motor boating.
post #4 of 12
I don't tele ski but I recently got back into basic Nordic skiing for a couple of reasons:

A. I like the idea of being in the woods ALONE.

B. I was looking for more of a workout than Alpine was giving me.

C. I was bored with the Alpine terrain in the Mid-Atlantic.

White Grass in the Canaan Valley opened a whole new world to me, and is making me contemplate going full bore into TELE. It really gives you a backcountry feel right in your own backyard.

To understand the appeal of the Nordic disciplines, I suggest visting the White Grass homepage--especially Snow Report and Much More.

White Grass

Chip Chase, the owner of the place, really is an the Appalachian Freeheel Gnome of WV. Reading what people have to say about him and his incredible resort will give you an idea of why people convert to the Nordic disciplines. I'm still sticking with Alpine but I'm also going to do more x-country next year and may even learn how to tele turn. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #5 of 12
Sondre Norheim is the father of Telemark gear. Sondre was a jumper. A free-styler of his day as it was. Sondre wanted to go BIG without getting a big califlower nose from face planting so he figured that a binding that would let him spread his feet further apart fore and aft would give him more fore and aft stability. He concocted the free-heel binding that would serve that purpose. It worked! Free heel gear provides more fore and aft stability than alpine gear. The con in respect to that is that the side-to-side stability is less than alpine gear.

Other aspects of free heel gear are more obvious. It’s light and it allows one to walk with their skis in a normal walking gait. It’s less expensive than alpine gear …both skis and bindings. The boots are somewhat less expensive than alpine boots …$300-$500. Bindings are more prone to breakage than alpine gear but they are improving, as there’s been a curve to catch up with the beefier boots.

Telemark turns are very similar to alpine turns when you condense the mechanics down to the progression of each respective turn. If you are a competent alpine skier, then you’ll have no problem making the switch. Tele will force you to find you center of balance throughout the turn or you’ll be punished with an OTB or falling backwards. At the very least you’ll be amazed how well it’ll improve you alpine skills.

I haven’t been on alpine gear in 6 years and I don’t see a need to do so in the future. I believe you can enjoy all levels of terrain and snow conditions with the telemark turn.

Welcome from the dark side to the light!
post #6 of 12
Another pro is that free heel gear is easier on your knees and back. To most folk who observe tele and don't do it themselves, it looks like it would be just the opposite. The shock and vibration that wiggle up your body is better absorbed by the full range of movement in your legs with free heel gear than with alpine gear.

Evidence that free heel gear is better for your body can be found in ski patrol logs of the wrecks they run throughout the season. I'm told the number can be counted on both hands for tele skiers compared to thousands of alpine wrecks.
post #7 of 12
Well first i have nothing against downhill. I still think it is the tightest thing out there. Any type of skiing is. The thing about telemarking is that it gives you a challenge. I started freeheeling cause i was able to ski any where at my local resort and it was a pain in the ass to carry my gear in the back country. So i took up telemarking and i ski BC so much now. Ive haven't even thought about pulling out my downhills. Its just fun getting down in your tele turn and having powder pour over you. Its just an amazing feeling. This coming from a junkie though, so i would recomend just renting one day and trying it out. Its amazing.
post #8 of 12
I first tele'd in 1992, when i first moved to Utah. Skinny skis and leather boots.

Did that a few times the first winter, picked up some scarpas and alpine skis with voile cable bindings. And thus began a long journey of trying every new design in binding to come along and breaking it. Repeatedly.

I did not alpine ski at all the second season, and by the third didnt even own alpine gear anymore. I was hooked. The turn was so fun and smooth, the ability to hike up and ski down, the challenge of learning something new after 22 or so years of alpine skiing. I used to be a speed demon and the tele gear was even more fun at 10 mph slower. Loved it.

Skiied tele only for 8 or 9 years, fat skis came along and really big boots and bindings. Finally i was skiing Volkl G4 skis, Linken binders, and Garmont triple G boots. And helmets.

Suddenly i was skiing faster than ever, and tele turning less and less. I started to think that perhaps a releaseable binder and a locked heel wasnt such a bad idea. This realization came as i straightlined north bowl at Bridger, just to see if i could.

Last year, i bought a few pair of Fritschi free rides and scarpa denali boots. Replaced the Linkens on all my big skis. I did leave the K2 'Randonee: French for can't tele' sticker on though.

And I love it!!

Its like rediscovering some freedom, as fast as i want whereever i want (well, actually, i did that on tele too, but its faster now!). no tired legs by 1 on a powder day. Drop skis and step in, no leashes, no bending over to do up binders, i can just drop a ski without worrying about it sliding away. My balance and technique on alpines is better than ever, something to do with tele skiing for years im sure.

As far as touring goes, ill take at over tele EVERY time. The hiking is so much easier. The only thing i miss hiking is the ability to kind of 'smear' my toe on a short uphill and not let my heel return to my heel lifts. I keep trying this on at, but i doubt ill ever get it to work.

By the way, i still have my tele boots and a pair of skis mounted with tele binders for when i need to see if i can still drop a knee.

I dont really know where im going with all this, but i guess i would say, go for it, try tele. Spend a couple seasons getting good at it (and to be graceful, it can take a couple seasons!). Go a season without alpine gear, or even an alpine turn! I think its the change thats fun, trying something you never have done before and strugglling to get good at it. Or going back to something you used to be good at and finding out you are even better at it.
post #9 of 12
Hah! I havent posted on here in forever and just noticed my sig.

I say its staying!
post #10 of 12
Originally posted by fez:
Hah! I havent posted on here in forever and just noticed my sig.
Randonee: French for 'Informed Descent'


I picked up tele (for a number of reasons) in '91. I only had money for one pair of skis and picked telemark. Cut my teeth all over Vail mountain in no-buckle leathers, eventually getting "monster" boots and handling the downhills with some competence.

For twelve seasons I never locked my heel. By then, I'd learned to travel in the backcountry, and could handle Mary Jane zipper lines freeheel. But the day I finally skied alpine bindings again, I discovered a speed, control and sheer power I had never known, both downhill and up.

These days my primary weapon is a burly AT rig, though telemark is always going to be a passion.
post #11 of 12
nothing, absolutely nothing is good or fun about tele skiing. especially in the backcountry... bunch of sweat and pain and struggle if you ask me...

*insert innocent whistle here* just horrible really, yup, pretty sure you wouldn't like it...

noooooo reason to try it out, nope. really just a bunch of hype... [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
post #12 of 12
Originally posted by PinHed:
Evidence that free heel gear is better for your body can be found in ski patrol logs of the wrecks they run throughout the season. I'm told the number can be counted on both hands for tele skiers compared to thousands of alpine wrecks.
waaaaait a minute here... this is more of a statistical difference, don't you think (c'mon, just a little?) the ratio of freeheels to fixed is, sheesh, well it is significantly unproportional. and there are also fewer freeheels at a resort than fixed, and where do you find the ski patrol??? that;s right, at the resort...

[ September 14, 2003, 08:43 AM: Message edited by: howderpound ]
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