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

 

 

 

How to telemark in moguls

Moguls telemark picture + PLAY

Hey Telemark Tribe,

Here is a series on how to telemark in moguls. More videos will be added along the season.

I will try to explain my philosophy to understand the bumps like never before.

You will learn and get great tips along the way.

Skip the videos you don’t like but remember that this is more than pointers, it’s a concept that makes a whole.

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to full tutorial videos, I got a great deal for you, here:

Mogul Telemark

 

 

Telemark stance: high or low

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Telemark skiing is a fluid a dynamic movement.

I often related to it as dancing down the mountain. I like the flow and the freedom freeheel telemark gives me. And it’s all about that feeling.

Different styles can be seen and two skiers can easily approach the same terrain differently. One big question remain: Should I go down all the way or should I stay high in my telemark stance ?

Moguls telemark competitionMt Edouard-4

Above: high stance and low stance in moguls.

There’s no easy answer to that. It is generally said that a higher stance limits your efforts and gives you a quicker response should you lose balance. So telemark instructors have preached with a higher stance. Good reasoning. And that what I tend to do that.

But a lower stance also have lots of advantages:

  1. it’s fun;
  2. it lowers your center of gravity, making balance easier;
  3. it enable you to stay in movement for a longer period during your turn. I call this dynamic balance. If your in movement, dancing, you can stay with the rhythm of the song more easily. If, on the contrary, you pause and change rhythm constantly, making short movement, it will be much harder to stay with the music, especially if that music changes it’s rhythm unexpectedly. A lot of this happens while telemark skiing. The slope is not constant, other people around you are not constant, the snow is not constant. Keeping your body in motion is one key to staying balanced and in control. Telemark skiing offers that freedom more than alpine skiing or snowboarding because of the equipment, because of the freeheel. Momentum is an advantage.

Finally, telemark skiing is a lot about feeling. Stay up to save energy, respond quickly and get down in technical, unpredictable terrain.

And get some style for the show…

What’s your approach? Leave us a comment below

Newschool telemark

telemark NEWSCHOOL 2.3

Telemark skiing is an art form that peacefully integrates you with your surroundings. You eat granola, drink herbal tea and good craft beer, and bearded men and strong women are the norm. If your backpack has a name and you can’t go skiing without your dog, you’re a telemark skier.

True but there is another side of telemark: Newschool telemark.

These youngsters are all about jumping and grinding in the park. They look the same as the rest of the park rats and spend hours perfecting their spins.  At first it looks like a completely different sport.  They don’t appear to be turning, but seem to be simply jumping around. Don’t be fooled. These young skiers are just as passionate about our sport, and are as dedicated as most of the traditional crowd. Best of all they call themselves telemark skiers.

Check out this link to see what I mean.

Progression has no limits. Be open minded

Mike Douglas, known to many as the godfather of Freesking has raised the bar for skiers. He and other free-spirited skiers have changed the look of skiing by taking what the snowboarders were proving was possible and adapted their styles to skiing. Telemark skiing is already seeing a similar make over.

Continue reading »

telemark medical survey

medical survey

Is telemark safe for your knees?

Is telemark more strenuous?

Is telemark more prone to injuries?

We talked about it in this post: trying to awser it the best, but we are missing knowledge. The research I found was from Scotland, limiting the accuracy of the data. We need a truly worldwide research.
Photo-Axis slopestyle 2007 ski knee injury
 

Here’s your chance to contribute to the knowledge

Dr. med. Kai Fehske and Theresa Hardörfer are conducting this research and your input is crucial for the accuracy of the survey.

Here an email I got this week end

Dear Mr Trudel,

my name is Theresa Hardörfer, I`m studying medicine in Würzburg, Germany.
While searching on the internet I found your website.
Last year we started a survey about risks and injuries connected to telemarking. Our aim is to conduct the world`s most comprehensive study about injuries connected to telemarking.
The survey is neither supported by economy nor by the pharmaceutic industry; at the end the results will be accessible to everybody of course.
So far the survey goes on quite well in German speaking areas, but I didn’t have much success in English speaking (and other language speaking) countries.
That’s why I`m writing to you. I want to please you, to help me forward this link to as many telemarkers as possible. Thus I wanted to ask you whether you could post this link on your website or if you have other ideas to reach as many telemarkers as possible.

 

There you go Theresa…
here is the link to the study https://www.soscisurvey.de/ski/?q=ET

I did the survey and it took my a big 6 minutes.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our free email updates…

Backcountry Telemark skiing grand opening in Jacques-Cartier National Parc

about page

It is with great pleasure that we finally saw the Jacques-Cartier National Park in Quebec, Canada, open a 1 sq. km area to backcountry users.RM wood telemark

Mathieu Brunet, Park director, was really please to see the minimum snowpack of 1 meter finally reach Thursday evening. This season was not the most constant with two major rain episode in January and February.

© parc national de la Jacques-Cartier

© parc national de la Jacques-Cartier

After two year in the making, obtaining the environmental approval for this pilot project, , it was finally happening and it produced immediate results, confirming the potential. On the first week end, more than 200 persons went and came back with smiles on their faces.

Having developed the idea and selected the area, I was pleased to hear about that.  Eastern Canada does not have a great deal of backcountry access and the park opening could really be the start of something. Who knows! One thing is for sure, the sport is growing fast and people dream of powder.

plan de carte PNJC copy

© parc national de la Jacques-Cartier

The backcountry area:

With 300 meters of vertical, an average of 30° slope, there is definitely great terrain. It’s a forested area with birch, spruce and fir, it has a moderate density. The top plateau has a 150 meters vertical at 20-25° slope and has a low density, it is perfect for backcountry beginners (i.e advanced skiers/boarders). For more information, you can call the park at (418) 848-3169

© parc national de la Jacques-Cartier

© parc national de la Jacques-Cartier. Red Arrow point at the backcountry area

The Park is 30-40 minutes from Quebec City and the Welcome center is a few hundred meters away for the base of the area so the access is not a problem. We’ll try to have a short video edit shortly.

Make sure you subscribe to our free email updates below

 

What creates a great telemark community

Moguls telemark competition

Telemark skiing, unlike main alpine sports, have the opportunity to have a strong community. This is a subculture, a community of interest. A telemark community is like no other.

If you haven’t tried telemark and would like to, one thing you need to know is that there is absolutely no advantages to telemark. Technique is harder, equipment is as heavy or heavier and it’s more strenuous to name a few.

But once you try it, it’s a whole new story. The fun, the feeling, the flow are just out of this world. And the community is different.

Recently, at a telemark festival I attended in La Réserve, I met some newbies. Smile on their faces told the day they just had. They told me just how incredible the people were, sharing tips, helping them as they go. After so many years in the community, I had forgotten that it was something other riders don’t have. Perhaps the Freestyle Park Rats have the same, I honestly don’t know. But telemarkers really have a way to make it happen, to be accessible.

Then I looked around me. It was a telemark festival I had never been. I didn’t know most of the people around me. I realized that I had skied the whole day meeting people, going in crazy places, having fun without a second thought on this being normal or not. That moment, I really had a special feeling about all this: being a telemarker, sharing the sport I like.

The next week, two of my good friends were just back from a ski trip in Utah. The spark in their eyes was intense, the ski had been good. But far more, the people they met, where they got to go with locals, just because they were on tele, really stood out from their stories.

It made me remember my trip last winter to the Alps. The people I met were just incredible, the telemark scene was small but everybody knew each other, told stories, invited us for apres ski… I never thought French skiing would be like that. The mountains, the food, and most of all, the people I met.Nanou smiling on tele

Last weekend was the Rendez-Vous Telemark at my local mountain, Le Massif. It was my turn to welcome people. You then realize that you want to give back as much as you can. Get people to have a great experience. Unfortunately this year, mother nature was not on our side and the skiing was not the greatest. But the weekend was still great. What really made the difference was this community, the warmth of the people at the event, the awesome after party. People shared more than the daily experience and they were easy to speak too. And again I met some folks who weren’t used to all this. It was my turn to smile.

I can’t wait for the next rendez-vous, Absolute Telemark will be at a few more during this season.

What is your favorite cultural story on telemark? Share it below.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our free email updates.

Telemark tutorials

Absolute telemark3_16-12-12

Absolute Telemark is in the process of making a tutorial on telemark skiing.

HD quality, well conceive by more than 15 years of teaching experience, each lesson will be 12-20 minutes long and available for pc/mac, Ipod/Ipad, Android tablets and phones

These tutorials will cover subject like:

  • Basic telemark; a series of 3 tutorials will cover everything a beginner needs to know to get started. It even include a fast forward method for alpine skiers or snowboarders, eager to get rippin’ fast.
  • Telemark freestyle; a series of 2 tutorials will cover the new style telemark: switch telemark, snowpark jumps and modules.
  • Mogul telemark, a series of 2 tutorials will cover all the know how from the fundamental to all the advance stuff.
  • Powder telemark, a series of 3 tutorials will cover how to travel the backcountry, tree skiing, and of course powder turnspowder 1

These tutorials will be release for the 2013-14 season.

Just register to our free email updates below. And make sure to visit our telemark tutorial page

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