Most of the people that I teach to Telemark already have experience Alpine skiing and
many are very good alpine skiers. And in a funny kind of way I find that sometimes the
more experienced the ‘alpinist’ the more difficulty he or she has to ‘unlearn’ the
alpine stance and weighting in order to perform the classic Telemark turn. The critical
element in the classic Telemark turn is effecting a smooth and timely transition between
‘lunges’ or strides through the turn. Inexperienced free-heelers have difficulty staying
centered over their feet while moving in the Telemark stance and even more difficulty
timing the weight transfer onto their rear ski while carving the turn.
A really helpful exercise which helps you work on both your timing and balance is what I
call the ‘High-Low’ exercise. It’s one of those little exercises which is all about
developing muscle memory – the more you do it, the more natural the movements and the
timing become. And moreover, it’s an exercise you can be doing pretty much anytime while
you’re out skiing. ‘High -Low’ teaches the alternating transition between strides and
is one of the fundamental building blocks for anyone starting to Telemark.
I would recommend that you watch the ‘High-Low exercise’ video first as seeing it
performed and explained will make it easier to understand.
Choose an easy slope initially with plenty of room in front of you and check that you
won’t risk getting skied into. Set off in a straight line. Push back with the rear leg
(either will do) and sink into the base position. Imagine that you’re stepping back onto
the rear ski rather than stepping forward onto the front ski. To straighten, push up on
the front leg. Then start over on the other side and continue to stride and straighten
as many times as you can.
- As you pass through the high position take care that your
weight is never on both feet at the same moment. What you’re looking for is a smooth
continuous motion as you transition from stride to stride.
- Practice this exercise as often as you can while you’re out on the hill and see how much
more control you feel when turning.