My Teaching Philosophy for Telemark Instructors

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Hello Telemark Tribe,

 

I was contacted by CANSI, the Canadian Association of Nordic Skiing Instructor to write a paper to my fellow instructors. Unfortunately, it never got published so I taught I could share it here.

Here is what I wrote for my fellow teachers.

 

When I teach telemark skiing, my number one objective is for every student to retain a clear learning objective and to know precisely how to achieve it. 

Too many times, I have taken the wrong approach by trying to have my students find instant results with advice such as: “Do this, move like that…” Sometimes it works. But often, it does not.

As telemark skiing instructors, we want to give our students several tools to achieve a given movement. Our goal is for them to be confident in the way they improve.

Introduction— The Absolute Telemark Way:

Every time I meet with students, I want to know two things: What they feel good about (their Positives) and what they want to improve (Their Objectives).

 

The positives

First, I will ask them about their experience, their strengths and what they have improved on recently. My goal is to quickly assess their mental game, because learning starts in one’s head. I am looking for positive thoughts. I will ask about things that they feel good about:

  • Types of terrain (groomers, steeps, trees…)
  • Types of turns (short, long, speedy or not…)
  • Types of telemark stance (low, active, high…)

I only ask specific questions if they cannot seem to bring positive ideas. I want to know what makes them feel good before what they want to improve.

If they are new to telemark skiing, I will ask them about their skiing or snowboarding abilities, or other sports they practise. 

 

The Objectives

Subsequently, I will ask them about their expectations and what they hope to improve.

All this takes about three minutes. If I have a large group of students, I will shorten this part and go for a direct question:

“Describe your telemark skiing experience and comfort level.”

Once I have compiled everyone’s input, the lesson starts. 

I could go many ways from here, groups, first timers… But for this article, we will use the example of a one-on-one lesson with an experienced telemarker searching to improve.

 

Initial Approach

We start with a warm up run. I will lead for the first third of the way. Then, I will stop to see how my student is doing. I will then let them take the lead so that I may assess these points:

  1. What is making them waste energy?
  2. How is their body balanced?
  3. What path or choice of lines do they make going down the mountain?

I want to integrate the student’s requested areas of self-improvement to what I observe and apply it to a specific type of terrain. 

 

The Path to Improvement

People like to know promptly what you think of their skiing. I will often stop my students before the end of the first run to give them immediate feedback. If you both see eye-to-eye, their confidence in your teaching skills will be boosted.

Be forthcoming in your evaluation but, formulate it so that they feel their past efforts were not in vain. Remember to remind them that what they are doing is working for them. 

“If you do something and you feel it’s working, then it’s working. If you feel like you are doing something wrong, then it’s most likely wrong.”

It is that simple!

 

Then, introduce one thing that they could improve on. It has to be related to their learning objectives. It does not have to be directly related. But it needs to be brought up as part of their progression plan. For example:

“I see that you have good balance and that your telemark stance is solid. This is good because it will enable you to gain more rhythm, make tighter turns in the steeps like you talked about achieving. One of the keys to really improve your rhythm is how you use your hands.”

BOOM! 

 

You just reminded them of their positives, you have pointed out a possible solution for them to reach their goals. The direction: better rhythm, and the way to get there: your hands, are clearly pointed out. 

You now have their full attention. They will focus on doing precisely what you suggest, knowing that it will lead to them achieving their goals.

 

Building a Plan

This is the “easy” part. This is what we do as a telemark skiing instructor: Build a series of exercises that will get your student to discover new movements, thus getting them to where you think they should be.

Here are a few things that make a plan work regardless of the selected drills:

 

Share the Plan Before Doing the Exercises. 

Take a minute to explain to your student the expected outcome of your plan. 

What will they gain? If the exercise is about hand movement to increases pivot or rhythm, tell them. Relate it to the end goal; Hands = one step closer to their objectives.

 

Move Quickly From One Exercise to Another. 

Do not stick with one exercise, even if it is working. If it is working, find a variation. If it is not working, find out why and try to address it in the next exercise. 

Find “Ah! Ha!” Moments. 

If you feel that your student has had a great gain, celebrate it. Talk about the success. Try to integrate it to their skiing.

 

The Psychology of Learning

 

Remember the moment you learned something new and how you felt about your past struggles, your previous failures and successes? That is the teacher’s challenge!

Now that your students have been working hard for an hour or two, get them back to something they feel good about: terrain, types of turns, body position…

 

Finish With a Positive. 

Find a way to reveal their original skills at the end of the lesson. Link the newly acquired skills to their original positives. If you did it correctly, your student will feel like they have improved one or more aspects of their telemark skiing technique. They will know what to work on to keep improving. They will associate their learning to you, the instructor.

The worst scenario is a student leaving the lesson more confused than before. They will feel frustrated because they just do not get it. 

Or worse, they will think that they have to learn something completely different because they had it wrong all along. This mindset will not lead to a quest for improvement.

 

Remind yourself the following:

  • Everybody learns at their own pace.
  • Everybody can execute something in the way their mind tells them to; But the mind has to send the correct instructions.
  • You are responsible for the message in their minds.
  • Practice remains the number one factor for improvement.
  • There is more than one road to progress. 
  • Remember that your taught approach is not the only way to success.

 

Finally, you have to remind your students the number one rule of learning:

“If it feels good, it probably is. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.” 

Because you finished the lesson on something that your student already felt like they were good at, the positive effect will create a good mental state to keep working and improving. 

 

But there is more to it… It is called proprioception!

I will talk about proprioception next time. In the meantime, you can Google it if you are curious.

That’s it for now,

René-Martin his a certified telemark instructor. He is the creator of Absolute Telemark. You can book a private lesson here

 

 

 

Repost: Training for the season

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Hey Guys,

This is the time of the season where you need to think about what will make the difference.

 

Telemark Training For The Season

 

This  is a blog post from last season and it’s still extra valid

Make sure you get the training you need, meaning, don’t just copy, make it your own and DO IT.

Avoid injuries, make the most of your season from day one, get to the next level, WHATEVER your age or health.

If you train right, it will make a difference.

 

 

021 – Chris Valiante from 22 Designs and the new Outlaw Telemark binding

Outlaw

Building a new NTN binding is a mission 22 Designs set out to do.

The Outlaw, most anticipated binding from the small Idaho company is sure to make some noise.

I had wanted to talk to Chris for a long time. This true step in, simple and though binding have received great critiques and 22 Designs has managed to keep the weight down.

Let’s hear more about this well established Binding company run by Chris and his partner Collins Pringle.

Show Notes for this episode:

the Outlaw and 22 designs Website

Telemark skier Chris is looking up: Paul Kimbrough

Rainey Superloop binding (note from earnyourturns.com)

In 2005, 22 Designs purchased Rainey Designs and continued producing the binding with very minor adjustments to the binding through 2012. They created a free-pivoting version of Hammerhead called Axl that maintained the same underfoot cable routing with easier to adjust power pivot points. The spring system was different than Hammerhead and in an effort to streamline sourcing costs the Vice telemark binding was created, effectively ending production of Hammerhead. It is one of the few, true, legendary telemark binding designs that had an effect on nearly every telemark binding design since its inception although its inventor, Russell Rainey, would be quick to point out even Hammerhead borrowed from other, less successful designs (the Pitbull), only with a better execution.

 

 


019- JT Robinson From Big Mountain Telemark to Big Spring

Jt facebook presentation_

This episode features JT Robinson.

He is a world class telemark skier that have competed in the Big Mountain Telemark tour, created a movie production company, and has helped TelemarkSkier.com become the reference it is today. By the way this episode was only suposed to air in 10 days but, since Telemark Skier is Launching There New Website, might as well share this with you today.

With Telemark, you have to do it your way…

From his awesome Sick Bird awards through out his pro days to the ways he has created his own mark in the history of telemark in the last decade in the US, JT always seems to be around the big scene and creating his own destiny. This is one fascinating telemark skier. And so inspiring too


Show Notes:

JTRobinson.Com

VI Group

Though Guy Production and the interview with Stephane «Frenchy» Riendeau

Unparallel II and Josh Murphy

TelemarkSkier.Com  (Check out there new website)

The Telemark Skier that JT looks up to the MOST: Josh Madsen

And more riders to look after: Bennett Drummond (youngster); Erik Anderson (guide); Jake Sakson (king of the Hill :)

 

 

You know you’re in the big league if you can throw down like JT.



The Moonlight

What Big Mountain Comp looks like. I think the guy in blue doing a front flip/off axis at the start is JT

And what last year looked like in 2014

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To Deep, Too Step

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“…Telemark skiing has a time and place and it’s not in the big mountains…”

Well, that quote from The episode One from Beans and Rice season One is sure to get some talk.

Cause if it’s to Deep

 

I can’t pass the opportunity to share this nice video with the Telemark Tribe. If you don’t know Beans and Rice, make sure you check them out. Enjoy

Beans and Rice: Episode One “To Deep, Too Steep” from BeansandRiceFreeride on Vimeo.

Beans And Rice also promote the youth. Check out Jake’s Telemark Freeride Camps

You can also check a podcast episode with Paul Kimbrough, usual partner with Jake.

 

Telemark Training For The Season

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Get ready to get down!

Train for your telemark season.

The season is about to start and it is the perfect time to get motivated to train and be in the best shape before the season.

The goal here is simply to share  my training on a 5 day a week program.

I do the same things over for one month and it’s worked pretty good for me.

Remember to train according to your capacities. I’m not a trainer and if you are not sure if these exercices are good for you or not, please ask your physician. This is just me sharing my method that is working for me.

Have a great season!

Here it is






 

014: Interview with Black Diamond’s staff, the death of the Telemark Boot line up?

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Black Diamond R&D guru Doug Heinreich and ski product director Ryan Guess talk about the future of telemark equipment as well as their passion of the mountains. Get to know the behind the scene of the makers of great product like Doug and Ryan, their chalenges and reality.

Although Black Diamond confirms the end of the production of Telemark Boots as reported by Craig Dostie on his blog, Doug opens the doors to new possibilities

Let’s hear about the great story of those two passionate mountain enthusiast in the latest of the Absolute Telemark Tips Podcast.

Links in this Episode

 

Alex Lowe wiki

Scarpa Terminator

BD Tele Sauvage

Voile CBR

Spaderman binding

Episode 12: Telemark skiing in Thompson Pass Alaska with Matt Kinney

Matt Kinney

This episode is Powered by

telemark skier Magasine

Follow one of the most dedicated telemark skier on the planet on his journey to ski and pioneer some of the most challenging descent in Valdez Alaska.

Matt Kinney former guide, hiking for his turns for 35 years now, and author of Alaska Backcountry skiing: Valdez and Thompson Pass.

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Links for this Episode:

Matt’s website: Thompsonpass.com

Matt’s equipment:

Skis, Carbon Convert or on Earn Your Turns

Binding, Voile SwitchBack Or on Earn Your Turns

Boot Garmont Kenai

Matt’s Book: Alaska Backcountry Skiing: Valdez and Thompson Pass (I think I’ll buy a copy just as a dream trip coffee table book )

 

In the same idea: here is the link for the movie A Life Ascending

All pictures are curtesy of ThompsonPass.com

Telemark leash or no leash

telemark leash

Do you use leash on not releasable telemark binding in the resorts.

On all skis or boards, you need to have a system to hold or stop the device from going down if it were to leave your feet. Image a ski or board going down a slope at great speed hitting someone on the head and killing him. It’s happened, I’m sure.

As a ski patrol, I have seen a lot of dangerous situations and a few close calls.

On Alpine skis, the fact that the binding is releasable, brakes have been the norm for quite a while.

On snowboards, a leash should be attached to one of the legs. This practice is not followed by any snowboarders I know. The reason is quite simple, the binding system is very reliable. 20 years back or so, I remember seeing bindings rip from boards after a hard landing and going down like crazy. I’ve seen this happen with alpine skis and telemark as well.

Telemark skiers are mostly responsible people and most of them use leashs to link the boots to the binding. If after a great fall, if the binding was to release, the skis would go nowhere.

Now there is a few telemark bindings that comes with release and brakes so we’ll leave these out of the conversation.

 

I don’t use a leash and have been doing so for 10 years.

I know, I know, that’s not very wise. Quite stupid frankly.

And you are right. If my binding was to release for no reason, my ski would go down like a missile.

But it’s never happened.

That’s another stupid thinking I know.

Then comes risk management.

 

Risk zero does not exist.

Any living is doom to end. The goal is to rationally choose the most acceptable path to the end.

Water is dangerous so we learn to swim.

Telemark binding are not safely held to the boot so we put a leash.

My years of experiences have thought me that binding tension will always loosen, so I’ve made a rule to always check that the tension is all good. And that’s always  been enough to keep my binding to my feet, unless a great fall. Like a really good bail.  And then, I’m kind of happy that the ski releases.

This has happened to me a few times. Manly in tight woods, where the skis got stuck and got riped from my feet.

See what I mean at 2:50

That one time, I was skiing with a demo ski and it had a leash. I injured my leg on the scene. When my leg when under the snow, I felt the binding go with out to much tension, then I felt the leash hard wire create a large amount of tension. It broke. At the time, I was sure I had blown my knee, but luckily, after a week, I was good to go…

 

So, did the leash do it’s job?

NO

It did not prevent the ski from becoming a missile.

And it injured my knee in the process

 

Managing the Risk

As I said, it’s all about reducing the risk to an acceptable minimum.

This is what I see as a ski patrol, 99% of the time:

  • For telemark skiers. If they have to remove their skis in a steep slope, they will have a lot of difficulty to put it back on. and sometimes, one of the skis will escape…. Missile of dead
  • For snowboarders, beginners will remove their snowboard to walk down a harder section. The board will slip out of their hands for what ever reason, and the missile is launched.

Now there is still that 1%

That’s where risk management comes in place. Is that 1% were the missile launch could have been avoided by a leash.

Leashes are not a no fail system as seen in the video. And they don’t even avoid the main danger’s I’ve seen.

It’s now accepted in the snowboard scene that leashes are non sense and, around me at least, you never see a snowboarder wear one.

For the telemark scene, I don’t think it’s that much different.

Make sure your binding tension is right every time you put the ski on. That will save you and the surrounding skiers 99.9% of the time.

Then if you feel more secure wearing a leash please do. Especially if you’re a beginner and you are not aware of what is the right tension in your bindings… Or if you are using older bindings that did not create as much tension.

 

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