It looks so natural, so wonderfully elegant, when telemark skiers glide down the slopes in their distinctive style. Similar to cross-country skiing, the heel of the ski boot is not fixed but can move freely upwards. This freedom is unsettling for the beginner at first, but it is the basis of the technique. It makes it possible to swing down the slopes in a kind of lunge. The front knee is strongly bent, after each turn there is a change of step and the skier celebrates a stylish knee drop on the other leg.
Put simply, that's what this old technique, the basis of modern alpine skiing, is all about. The Norwegian Sondre Norheim developed this nostalgic trend sport in 1860. Having skis under your feet was part of everyday life in the long winter months in the snow-covered province of Telemark. Sondre enjoyed skiing as a child in his home village of Morgedal. He spent every spare second on his beloved boards, tinkering with a new connection between ski and boot. Since only the ball of the foot was firmly connected to the ski in his construction, it gave him unprecedented flexibility on any kind of slope. Sondre also took the turns in deep snow in a lunge, changing steps after every turn, which made for relaxation and also looked elegant. In honour of the piste pioneer, the new technique was named after his home region of Telemark.
From 1940 onwards, telemark skiing became less and less important and was replaced by new techniques that were easier to learn, but could not keep up with the old elegance. In 1980, American ski instructors rediscovered telemarking and from there the invention of the skiing enthusiast Norwegian migrated back to Europe. In general, telemarking is possible everywhere where normal alpine skiing is practised. Wide, easy to medium-difficulty slopes are ideal. The corresponding courses are now offered in all well-known ski resorts and are also suitable for beginners. More experienced skiers need about two days to bring the basics of the technique to the slopes.
Everywhere there are fan meetings and competitions in the winter in the three Nordic disciplines of skiing, ski jumping and cross-country skiing. World Cup level races are organised through the international ski federation FIS. The big goal: to compete at the Olympics with the traditional technique. An old Norwegian would drop to his knees with excitement about this.
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