Telemark Skiing in Powder

A great many people who come to Telemark skiing do so with the eventual intention of
skiing the ‘back country’ or ski-touring. I guess it’s one of those ‘freedom’ things
that seems to go with the whole idea of free-heel skiing. Or maybe it’s just that skiing
light, dry, deep powder under perfect blue skies is as close to heaven as most of us
will ever get!

Telemark skiing in Powder is obviously more challenging than skiing on perfectly groomed
slopes, but actually you’ll be using pretty much the same techniques that you’ve learned
on piste but with some specific emphasis or exaggeration and it helps enormously if you
build the turn in stages. However, you’ll want to be sure that you’ve really mastered
those techniques on piste before starting in the deep stuff – one thing that the powder
will certainly do is show up any flaws!

Importance of rear leg
The key to skiing powder, as with much else in Telemarking, lies in the rear leg. You
need to really exaggerate the movement onto the rear ski as you sink into the Telemark
stance – that way you’ll be sure that your ski tips stay out of the snow. Do not however
be tempted to lean back – keep your weight evenly balanced on both skis and on both
edges through the transitions.

Telemarking in Val d'isere
Telemark Turns in Powder

Start by doing the ‘High-Low’ exercise on a gentle powder slope, exaggerating the push
back of the rear leg. This will help you develop the essential rhythm that you need for
powder skiing as well as helping you work on maintaining a good and even balance between
your feet.

Once you’re comfortable with the movement and balance, practice making one turn up the hill
and stopping. Then make garland turns by linking a series of uphill turns. When you feel
that you are controlling the turns with your rear leg, make some downhill turns. Practice
on gentle powder slopes and then progress to steeper pitches. Begin with short radius turns,
exaggerating the movement onto the rear leg and then link larger radius turns. On steep slopes
and when the snow is crusty you can also employ the ‘hop turn’ to help turn easier.

Tips

  • Try to not be abrupt when you make your turns; rather ski gracefully by using your rear
    leg to steer round, smooth arcs in the snow.
  • I’d recommend when skiing powder that you use knee protectors. If you’re skiing
    correctly then your trailing knee will regularly dip into the snow and who knows what
    nasties may be lurking just below the surface?
  • If you are venturing into the back country always carry the necessary safety and rescue
    equipment, including avalanche transceivers, shovel and probe and be sure you know
    how to use them!
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