Outdoor Journal
Episode #: 
Telemark Skiing

Telemarking is a graceful sport. It's not as rigid as regular alpine skiing; there's a freedom in Telemarking that you don't find with hard boots and stiff bindings. It's not about speed, though you can go fast if you want to. And you can do it anywhere. It doesn't require a groomed mountain or a lift — you can hike up into the backcountry, strap on your skis and go. Because Telemarking incorporates different types of turns, it allows you to tackle a variety of diverse terrain. It's easier in the bumps. It's easier in the trees to turn. And there's no right or wrong. There are a variety of techniques you can adapt to fit your style. The first thing you notice about a Telemark skier is that they appear to kneel as they ski. This is due to the fact that the heel is free and not locked into the boot, much like it is in cross-country skiing. This kneeling position gives the skier more stability and contributes to the turns. If you look at ski jumpers in the Olympics, you'll notice that they finish in the Telemark drop. That's because it's so stable. With a more flexible boot, the turn actually strengthens and there is less pressure on the knee. Also, because the shins aren't straining against a boot, there is more comfort. Telemark skis are side cut, which helps to increase their turning ability. This allows the skier to bend more, move more and participate in the run, interact more with the terrain. Telemarking becomes a personal expression of how you move. And it's addictive. Dick Hall is the founder of the North American Telemark Organization (NATO). He calls Telemark skiing "pure physical pleasure." Dick says, "I've met thousands who used to alpine, but never one who used to Telemark." In this segment, host Marianne Eaton joins Dick Hall for a Telemark lesson. Then we visit the 30th Annual NATO Telemark Festival in Mad River Glen.


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