The Telemark History Ep2: The Evolution of skis and Bindings

This is my Telemark challenge for the season, going back in time with set ups from four different eras.

We will go from the 80s super long skis to today’s wide boards.

Telemark skiing has evolved so much and I’ve kept updating my gear all along.

I want to go back in time and see the advantages we might have lost along the way, or the benefits I get from the modern set ups we enjoy today.

For the 80s set up, we have the Atomic 210 cm ski, with a lot of camber, mounted with the Chili binding from Rottofella. Then, I found my original telemark skis and binding. It is the Karhu Hardbody 203 cm mounted with Rottofella 412, a front-loading binding. I will ride both skis with a Vasque leather boot.

For 90s setup, I have the X-scream from Salomon, a parabolic ski, with the very popular Voile release plate. I also have the Rossignol Big Bang, mounted on the Rainey SuperLoop binding. This ski/binding combo is mine and I have skied it 5-6-7 years, can’t remember. I will ride the Garmon Veloce with these skis.

For the 2000 setup, I have found the Karhu Kodiak, mounted on the 22designs Hammerhead. This is a short ski for me, but it should edge and carve very well. Not in the video, I will also add a Black Diamond AMP ski mounted on a Black Diamond O1 binding. This is a fat ski, very good for powder. I feel that this is the era where people started to buy more than one set up, and choose according to conditions. I will ride both skis with the super-powerful Crispi XR boot.

For the 2010 to today setups are all NTN based setup. We have the Black Diamond Route 88 mounted on the Bishop BMF-R binding. This is my day-to-day patrol ski. I also chose the Helio 105 from Black Diamond mounted with the 22designs Lynx. This is my setup for backcountry telemark and the one I use telemarking in the Chic-Chocs. I might also show you a few other setups I have that are different for that era, plus a surprise. I will ride those with the Crispi Evo WC telemark boot check out the full series for more fun on the telemark history gear review.

 

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

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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

 

 

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.

 

 


018 – Weston Deutschlander Telemark ambassador

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The Life Unbound.

This clearly applies to Telemark.

One understands this better than anybody, Weston Deutschlander or Weston D as he likes to say.

You’ve never Heard is name?weston avatar

 

He was named by Shaun Raskin in Session 09 the telemark skier that she looks up to the most.  His Bio on 22 Design sas it all:

Even if you don’t recognize his name, you’ve probably seen Weston in a ski magazine, movie, or just ripping by you in the Wasatch. He brings his infectious energy to the hill every day, whether it’s for a shoot or working with the kids of the Park City Tele Tribe.

After seeing some videos of Weston, I have to say that he is one of the best Telemark Skier of his era.

 

Show Notes:

The Life unbound (Weston and Shaun’s website)

inspiresummit.com (Private Ranch guided skiing with two of the best telemark skier on the planet… I’m in)

pccats.com (another great way to ski with Weston)

Bindings talked about:

The hammerhead

The Outlaw

The Meidjo

The TTS

Best Telemark skier:

Frode Gronvold (I found him Weston, he even have a DVD on sale on Amazon :)


Weston’s Sponsor

Weston’s Videos

Ear the drizzled snow hit the cam and feel every turn

and more…

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.

 

Telemark South America: All you need to know

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This is the complete guide to choose your ski destination in South America

Today we meet with Serge Berthiaume, A French Canadian living and skiing in South America. I first meet Serge more than ten years ago; ski bumming his way all over North America. I was not surprised when I heard Serge’s plan to ski South America over the summer; it was a bit of a shock when I heard he would go back every year. Saving money, working winters back home just to go back to ski the Southern Winters. After all, most of us were doing the opposite. Serge now lives full time in Chile and skiing is still his main occupation.

Tell us the story behind a Canadian who lives and work in the ski industry in South America

It’s been 10 years since we started our history here in Chile, that was in 2003. When we arrived to Santiago after saving up our money (for a
 whole winter), we understood that what we did was the 
best choice, skiing 30 inch of fresh snow on our first day.

The first days were hard! Trying to figure where the best lines were, the best happy hours, the best restaurants…
well, the best setup for us! Two months after our 
return to Canada we realized that we loved our trip so 
much that we didn’t’ spend a day without talking about it!
 It was done: we were addicted. We had to come back, we never miss a ski season in Chile ever again!

What’s so special about skiing in South America?

943253_10151695118028900_556224209_n Continue reading »

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

Telemark skiing: weight distribution

weight distribution

The telemark stance define the sport. This split squat creates the turn and stabilize the skier.

 A lot of the modern telemark technique and equipment is influence by the alpine ski technique. Balance and weight distribution are no exceptions._X7A5648

How much weight should you put on your back ski?

It use to be really clear: 50% on each skis. At all time. When parabolic skis came on the market, that’s what the alpine world did too. Get both skis to carve is more efficient. For the past few years, alpine has come back to 80% on the outside ski. They say that it reduces the chance of falling on the inside ski. And people are winning world cup with that technique.

What about telemark weight distribution? Continue reading »

Life: Backcountry Telemark

Life backcountry

Telemark creates a community and backcountry is a place where time and space are different. People are different. Hiking for your turns, on a good powder day, you hear it all over.

On a good crew, you’ll hear all sorts of them. We all get incredible feelings from the face shoots, nice flow on long arc turns, a clean line with a few hits. Seeing your friends ski and getting good snow, we all cheer once in a while. Or more.

What is your backcountry cheers.

Are you a loud backcountry lad?

My favorite basic sounds are: Youp youp youp. Whiiiiiiiii. Yeah wouhou yeah wouhou. But you also get full on cheer like a buddy of mine yells stuff like: Awesome, Get some cheese! Solid! MASSIVE! My favorite all time is a friend of mine going:

To all the friends in the backcountry; HIIIIII HAAAAAAAA

You can have some folk signing. From Divas like Celine Dion to Austrian yodeling (special greetings to Pierrot Lortie who can really sign all the Yodeling in the repertoire) to the latest music hits from your favorite ski movie and so on.

Continue reading »

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