Telemark skiing is a discipline of skiing that combines elements of alpine and nordic skiing. Telemark skiing is named after the Telemark region of Norway, where the discipline originated. Generally, telemark skiers use alpine skis with specially designed bindings that fix only the toe of the ski boot to the ski, thereby creating the “free heel”.
Traditionally, the heel was attached to the front of the binding by a hinged cable, which held the ski boot firmly in the binding. More recently, however, a newer style of bindings has been developed which have become the norm for the racers and which are generally used with a GS ski with a < 25m radius.
Telemark Race Disciplines
Telemark skiing has now been a World Cup sport for nearly 20 years. The Telemark World Championships are held every 2 years, with an annual World Junior Championships. In 2018, Telemark racing was proposed as an Olympic sport to the IOC but the proposal was unfortunately unsuccessful.
Telemark racing combines elements of alpine racing, nordic skating, and ski jumping. World Cup Telemark has a number of race formats, including “Classic”, “Sprint Classic,” and “Parallel Sprint.” A typical Telemark race consists of: a Giant Slalom section where all gates must be negotiated in the telemark position; a jump where a minimum distance must be attained and which must be landed in the telemark position, a cross-country skate section and a 270 degree banking turn known as the wrap or loom.
Penalties are severe, with a 3 second penalty for not making the jump and a second for each time you come out of the telemark position in the Giant Slalom section. The Classic discipline is a single course of around 2-3 minutes duration, while the Sprint Classic comprises 2 runs of about 1 minute each. The Parallel Sprint is a knock-out competition, with two parallel GS courses merging into a single skate and loom section
Getting into Telemarking
People have many different motivations for getting into telemarking. In essence, it is a different way to enjoy the mountain. For many mountaineers it is a way to continue enjoying the mountains in the winter, opening up opportunities for ski touring. For others it is another set of toys to use on the piste, giving a new and interesting challenge. Many say it is the most graceful discipline of skiing and that telemarking in powder is the ultimate skiing experience, although this obviously requires a little practice!
Many Scottish and international ski schools now offer telemarking instruction although it is worth contacting ski hire companies in advance if you are intending to hire equipment to ensure availability.
The annual Telemark festival organised by the Scottish Telemark Club (STC) and held in Braehead, Glasgow is an excellent way to give telemarking a go. The STC also hold an evening session about once a month; equipment can be borrowed and instruction is usually available free of charge. The Scottish Telemark club can be contacted at:
Alternatively, the British Army organise an annual event which is open to civilians who can already Telemark or alpine ski and involves a week of instruction by top telemark coaches. This is followed by an optional race which has a development section for those new to telemark racing. Details can be found on the Army Winter Sports Association at:
Getting into Telemark Racing
Telemark racers can have very varied backgrounds. Some come from an alpine racing background, others are experienced telemarkers who learn to race and it is also possible to enter the sport with a cross-country background.
One of the best ways to get into the sport is to try it out with a club, for example the Scottish Telemark Club, who hold regular sessions at Braehead in Glasgow and have telemark equipment which you can borrow. Opportunities to try out racing come at annual telemark festivals in Glasgow and other UK indoor slopes which are often associated with a fun race, attended by people of all abilities including some British team athletes. Several British Team members were identified as potential athletes at the indoor festivals. Further information can be found on the STC facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=scottish%20telemark%20club
Each year the British Championships is organised by the army and is preceded by a week of technical and race training by top telemark coaches. Most alpine racers can quickly convert to telemarking and are often very successful. The race has a development section for those new to telemark racing and is a great way to start. These races are used as the main way of identifying potential athletes. These athletes may then be invited to join the British team on certain of their camps to continue their development and assess their future potential.
As there are currently too few Telemark racers in Scotland to justify holding races or race training in Scotland, or the rest of the UK, those seeking to attend a race camp will need to look overseas. The British team and several aspiring British athletes train with Multiglisse, the local club in Les Houches, Chamonix. The head coach is the British team coach, who speaks good English and new athletes are always welcome. There are numerous Telemark clubs in France, Switzerland, Norway and Germany who are very welcoming to potential athletes. Each nation runs a series of races open to all abilities and this is an excellent way to get some race experience.
Details for the Multiglisse club can be found here:
Scottish Athletes in British Ski Team
|Sion Bingham||Sion started skiing with his family as soon as he could walk. He started racing in Alpine skiing when he was ten. At 15 he won the Scottish Championships and at 16 made the Scottish Alpine Development Team.
Sion first tried telemarking on one of the Scottish Team training camps and really enjoyed it, so at the end of the season (13/14), when he decided to stop racing Alpine, it felt like a good option.
He began training with Seb Mansart in Les Houches. He had a promising first season (14/15) competing on the French Cup Circuit, doing his first World Cup race and going to the World Junior Championships in Steamboat Springs. Since then Sion has been competing on the World Cup circuit which he describes as “a fantastic experience! Telemarking is a very friendly sport and I now have friends from all over the world from other national teams. It is very inspirational to be competing with the very best in the world and, of course, great fun to take part in World Cup and World Championships!”
Sion is juggling academic work and telemarking as he is studying Sports Engineering full time at Strathclyde University in Glasgow. This makes attending training and races more difficult but gives access to excellent training facilities.
Sion’s long-term goals are to be achieving top 10s in the World Cups. His interim goals for 2019 and 2020 are therefore to be consistently skiing into the top 20 in World Cups in both Sprint and Classic disciplines, and to make the top 10 in the Parallel Sprint.
Sion would like to thank all his sponsors and his parents for their support.
|Magnus began telemarking at the age of 12. The change from alpine skiing to telemark is (at first) challenging, however with the correct coaching and help from the GB team, Magnus soon found his stride and love of the sport. With past racing experience in alpine skiing, Magnus has recently enjoyed training in Les Houches with the GB telemark ski team. Since then his greatest achievements have been winning 2 silver medals at the British Telemark Championships, and coming 29th in a World Cup race. Magnus continues his training as he strives to improve on his current standings in years to come.|
Get in Touch
Scottish telemark club – https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=scottish%20telemark%20club
Army Winter Sports Association – https://www.awsa.org.uk/telemark/