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Telemark Instruction For "Never-Evers"

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Hi all.

A bit of background:
Am a "retired" Level II Alpine instructor. I can do a decent intermediate Telemark turn, but don't have any training/experience teaching anyone else to Tele.

Had an opportunity today to walk with a friend to our local golf course so she could try my Telemark skis in a (hopefully) fun no-pressure way. She is fascinating to work with because she is extremely athletic (rides teeter-totters on her MTB, does triathalons, etc), BUT, had an unpleasant first exposure (tragic!!!) to skiing many years ago. My friend/student was however quite willing to go out and try skiing again, as long as no lift ticket purchase was required!

So, my question is:
In teaching a "never-ever" to Telemark, should I skip the wedge, wedge-christie, parallel progression and just go right to tele turns? (Today we didn't really even get to turns - we just tooled around on the flat. We had about 6-8 inches of fresh, so speed control wasn't an issue. There were hardly any pitches that even required turning for speed control!) I am hopeful there will be a next-time with her though, so would like to have some info on teaching tele to beginners.

Any advice or referral to appropriate threads/other sources would be appreciated. Many thanks!
post #2 of 20
Tooling around on the flat sounds like a great place to start.

Yes, skip the wedge, stem, etc. I would introduce a telemark move in some straight runs. Various things to try on a straight run (flat terrain, with runout). Start parallel, then drop into telemark. Have her try to pull back one ski while sliding the other forward (a splitting movement involving both skis). Play with tall, low stance, switch lead ski several times while gliding forward, smoothly moving from one telemark position to the next. Goal is a stance balanced equally between both feet.

From there she can start in a straight run, begin to telemark while pressing on and turning the ball of the rear foot as if crushing a cigarette butt under her foot. Ride the resulting turn to a stop.

Also have her turn from a straight run by pressuring the little toe edge of her back foot. Don't try to carve a clean arc while demonstrating this, you are still looking for a steered turn. Just introducing the idea that turns can happen from edging as well as from rotary input.

Demonstrate all movements before letting her try, so she knows what they look like.

Switching leads and direction. Like in the straight run, changing lead by moving both feet, while steering in and out of the fall line. Easiet to start with slight deviations from the fall line. While drawing left foot back, and moving right foot foward, steer skis slightly towards the left, then begin pulling right foot back, left foot forward while steering to right. Demonstrate this with very little turning at first, slight deviations right and left.

Practice more complete turns to a stop. Then linked turns coming progessively farther out of the fall line. Introduce steeper terrain very gradually, so she is comfortable, not scared, especially given her past negative experience.

This is not the only way to teach telemark, just a possible progression.

Good instructional videos from NATO (North American Telemark Organization). Good books are Free-heel Skiing by Paul Parker and Ted and Mike's Really Cool Telemark Tips.
post #3 of 20
I just re-read your post and noticed you are level 2 alpine, so a lot of what I said will be obvious to you (demonstrate, use non-intimidating terrain, etc.). Maybe of value to others who read though, teaching themselves or helping others.
post #4 of 20
Teaching other turns is not a bad idea during a progression as it may help building balance, stability & confidence. While alpine turning you can emphasize equal weight and inside outside edge pressuring using the 'big toe/little toe' approach among others.

I'd caution anyone trying to learn the 'telemark turn' that the position is a function of proper weight distribution, not simply 'assuming the position'. There is little point pushing the rear ski backwards if it isn't weighted. I usually shoot for around 50 percent with the body mass between the feet and adjust as necessary, fore or aft. Think of both skis acting as one larger arc. The hardest thing for people to get, is weighting the rear ski enough and carving the outside edge by pressuring the little toe/ball of foot, NOT the tips of the toes.

Here's some other options.
post #5 of 20
Yes, that's why I suggested a focus on the ball of rear foot and little toe edge of rear ski when introducing turning.

I don't care for the image of both skis on one long arc. Maybe on backcountry gear. Modern telemark skis should be guided through two arcs, hip width apart.
post #6 of 20
It's not so much a literal arc (or image) as much as trying to functionally working together as one, versus pressuring the lead ski and 'ruddering' the trailing ski. Putting more pressure on the ball of the rear foot than you think or would naturally tend to (especially for alpine converts) is definitely key.
post #7 of 20
Agreed and thanks for making that point.
post #8 of 20
Thought I was trying to make an arc...not a point. :

Here's some other insights:



post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 

Great Stuff!

Thanks Telerod15 and Alpinord. Great stuff - especially enjoyed http://www.telemarktips.com/ForebodyPress.html. How cool is that? Also, remembered I do actually own Allen & Mikes's Really Cool Telemark Tips book. Just been away from my "ski media" too long. "Real life" has got in the way for the last couple years. Sadly, that lovely book had been sitting on the floor under my desk for the last 2 years. Moved it to a place of honor on living room coffee table to right that horrible wrong.

Now... all I have to do is get my, shall we say, "frugal" friend to commit to the financial fall line and buy some gear and she'll be well on her way. Pretty tiring to ski with her when we only have one set of gear between us and have to switch back and forth!

(On the other hand, it was kind of good practice for back-country-winter camping-barefoot-in-the-snow type skill building. )

Anyway, I ramble, point is, thanks much for the help. 'Preciate it.
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 

I do ramble...

OK, sooo love this particular tip.
post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 
For some reason, don't think the link I tried attaching to my last post is viewable. Not a big deal, but here it is again: http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/inde...eID=1916154443
post #12 of 20
i'm a level III alpine who has become addicted to tele. i do all the clinics i can here at winter park. i'll tell you what has done the most for me......shuffle, then shuffle some more.

shuffle during medium radius turns, short turns, etc.

keep moving........i love to tele and it has really helped my alpine skiing.
post #13 of 20
Originally Posted by Rusty Guy View Post
i'm a level III alpine who has become addicted to tele. i do all the clinics i can here at winter park. i'll tell you what has done the most for me......shuffle, then shuffle some more.

shuffle during medium radius turns, short turns, etc.

keep moving........i love to tele and it has really helped my alpine skiing.

Good tip.

Thanks for sharing. I wish more people would try it.
post #14 of 20
spent two hours in bumps this morn.....it wasn't pretty but it sure was fun.

OK.......it was ugly

did tele 360's on green terrain for an hour in an effort to weight the back foot. seemed to help. 360's in a tele position are a little scary.
post #15 of 20
Hey Rusty! Good to see you're coming over to the Tele side as well! (I'm recently converted. Last 3 seasons anyway.) Once you get good at the 360's, do some Switch tele and some Mono-marks. (Easy terrain. exercise patience at edge change with the switch skiing) Your ability will sky-rocket... Because you are on the right track. Once the feel for the back foot becomes natural, short radius turns are pretty easy!

Just remember to shower every once in a while and occasionally eat some meat.

post #16 of 20
and learn to say "nice" or "right on" inevery sentence.
post #17 of 20
Telemarking definitely helps your alpine skiing by finding your balance and feel your feet with a smaller sweet spot. OTH, the gear is getting so beefy, that the learning curve with active bindings, and now the NTN binding, should make it very fast by comparison to three pins and recent improvements.

Classic XC and skate skiing are also good for body memory (ie, lead changes), balance and weight distribution. You cannot efficiently propel yourself if you are not on your feet and middle of the ski. It is also cheaper for gear and easier to do for many, especially starting out. Also, it's excellent to get kids or anyone started on skis and will complement and help anyones alpine skiin.

Another way to think about and communicate weight distribution is that your center of mass (CM) should be between your feet, near the middle. From a more dynamic position, adjusting for conditions terrain variations is much easy working from the middle than typically more forward and sometimes aft. Shorter ski spread on lead changes are also quicker to switch and can be very effective versus the tendency to spread the skis very far fore and aft.

When I find myself tending forward, often in bumps, I find raising my head and subsequently, the upper body to an alpine position makes it a lot easier to get back on center, rather than trying to push down and back with the upper body leaning forward. Making alpine turns and alternating with tele turns, with the upper body in the same body position is a good drill.
post #18 of 20
Thread Starter 

Oh, yeah, bumps

OK, how to get the words 'bumps' and 'nice, right on' in the same sentence?

Have been avoiding the bumps on tele skis. Advice?
post #19 of 20
As with alpine skiing in bumps, if you are 'off' in your skiing, it will get accentuated. It is critical to be centered, shorter leads and dynamic, often hop turning. Personally, I avoid bumps anymore on teles unless they are very soft as they are too demanding.

You might try to notice where your weight is on your feet when things go wrong in the bumps and go back and forth from more moderate terrain to focus on things you notice.
post #20 of 20
Everything you learned about skiing bumps alpine applies. Free heel bump skiing is nicer, more right on than fixed because you have a greater range of motion. Drop (flex) into telemark to absorb the bump, extend to parallel going into the trough.

Typically you will be flexing going into the turn and extending after the fall line, opposite from how you extend/flex when skiing non-moguled slopes.

Once you can rip bumps tele, you will wonder how you ever did it without the benefit of free heel bindings.
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