You've seen it - and if you're an alpine skier as I had been my whole life, you've always wanted to try it. It looks difficult - especially in the old-days (everyone remembers 'that guy' with the long beard and the flannel shirt making jump turns down moguls on long skinny skis, leather boots, a flash of duck tape from time to time). But just as equipment for alpine skiing has advanced, so has telemark equipment. We now ski on basically the same skis - most tele skiers I know actually use alpine skis. There have been some changes in bindings, though what unites them all is that the skier's heel is not locked down. The most significant development is stiff, plastic boots, similar to alpine boots though WAY more comfy, with a 'bellows' at the instep, permitting the skier to flex the foot. With today's telemark eqipment, a good alpine skier can pick up the basics in a matter of a few days.
I made the switch three years ago. I just always thought it looked so cool. And as an avid cross-country skier, I was looking for something that would bridge the gap between lift-serve downhill skiing and cross-country touring. As cool as it looks, it feels even cooler. There's a lightness to it, a subtlety and a freedom and range of motion that is very different from alpine or snowboard, where the feet are fixed and locked-in. But don't get the wrong idea - telemark skiers can be just as hard-charging as any of their brethren in the snowsports disciplines. And freeheel skiing in the bumps is about as much fun as you can have on snow.
We're planning to do some promotions and special events, including a "Learn to Tele" workshop with PSIA Level III Examiner Mickey Stone, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, March 6-7. Availability for this event will be limited, but we'll feature other clinics on those days if there is enough interest. Stay tuned for details.
If you're interested in freeing your heel, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or come talk to me at the Snowsports School desk. And please visit my blog, catskillsfreeheel.com for tips and info for freeheel skiers.
Free your heel and your mind will follow. Photos Courtesy Havey Road, NY State Ski Blog