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

 

 

 

Telemark Ski Gear 2018 – Part 1

Telemark gear 2018

Here Is My Gear for This Season

Notice: I’m sponsored and don’t pay much for the gear I use. BUT I can get pretty much all the gear I want so this is really the gear I wish to have, and I can still tell you my honest opinion. This is my gear choice, that fits my need. Take what you need from it, leave what you don’t.

 

For all of you telemark tribe gear freaks, here is what I have chosen for this season

 

 

My ski gear (skis, boots, bindings, skins, poles)

 

Boots:

 

Crispy Evo WC

These boots as got it all. Powerful, that’s my #1 concern in all my boots. They have plenty of power

They’re obviously not the lightest but the touring mode is very impressive when all buckles are open and they are durable. They are not the easiest to boot fit but if they fit you well from the start, you should have no problem.

 

 

2017-crispy world-cup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skis

Helios 117 and Helios 95

I use the Helios 117mm and 95mm from Black Diamond.

I’ve been using BD skis for over a decade now and this Helios series is in my top 2 most liked ever.

They’re light but they ski big. I didn’t think this could be.

The build quality is unparalleled and I’ve skied the 117mm for a season now with very little wear and tear, so durability is there too.

Simply put, they ski big, feel quick underfoot and are crazy light. Now that’s a triple combo hard to beat.

WARNING: BD does NOT recommend mounting telemark binding on their Helios series. Do it at your own risk.

115101_Helio_116_camber_web2

115103_Helio_95_camber_web2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bindings

The Meidjo

The Meidjo binding from The M Equipment has been my dream binding for 4 seasons now.

They are light, the touring mode is just phenomenal and they ski really great.

I’ve had a few problems here and there with different parts of the binding over the years but nothing more than my old Black Diamond  O1.

And I like the fact that they are always improving the design we are now on version 2.1

The addition of the alpine heelset makes it an absolute backcountry combo

0-Meidjo-2-1

 

 

 

 

 

The Outlaw X

The Outlaw X from Twenty Designs is a fantastic binding that is better than Rottefella NTN binding in every way.

The ski better, with less limitation, are as powerful, have an incredibly better touring mode that the NTT Freedom.

Plus, they are super solid.

This is a no brainer

outlawx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poles

I like to have a fix length aluminum for inbounds or side country. Just lighter and feels better. Choose any GOOD fix length aluminum and had a powder basket.

I also use an adjustable pole for touring and I adjust to different lengths to adapt to the terrain. This can really save energy during the day.

I use BD Boundary poles which will also fit my snow saw for cutting nice snow blocks for my avalanche assessment snow pits.

 

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Skins

Climbing skins is not the sexiest subject but it really makes a huge difference.

Trim them perfect, sell your old pair with the old skis and (bis) trim them perfectly.

I use the BD mix Mohair nowadays manly for the great durability of the glue, plus the placability of the Mix mohair.

The difference is HUGE for me.

 

mix mohair skins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you use?

Put your gear in the comments

 

Episode 17: Evans the Snowchaser – The Ultimate Ski Bum

Evans snow face

The Ultimate Ski Bum !

Today we meet with Evans from the blog www.snowchasers.blogspot.ca

This passionate telemark skier as made a life of skiing all winter long, every winter!

This is more than the average Joe. And in my mind, he his the Ultimate Telemark skier. (Debatable in the comments, LOL)

He has skied from Norway to Japan, from Kyrgyzstan to Greece in the last 10 years.

Listen to the Podcast here

 

Links to the Show:

Snowchasers Blog Spot

The Facebook for the Snowchasers

At the end, Evans put the emphasis on Avalanche Awarness. Here’s a list of what he suggests:

Avalanche Canada Courses

BCA, a Gear compagny has some great videos here

Ortovox, Gear compagny, others videos here

The Human Factor Season 1 and Season 2

 

Evans Sponsors

015- Stephane Riendeau and The Tough Guy Productions

steph skiing

Hey Guys Rene-Martin here

Welcome to the second season of the Absolute Telemark Tips Podcast.

This episode we meet with Stephane Riendeau, someone I highly respect for is work in telemark scene.

Stephane Riendeau has been creating, producing and editing films for over 10 years.

More than that, Stephane’s film compagny, Tough Guy Production’s have organized and produce anything from telemark movies to big mountain telemark events all the way to Alaska!

Stephane’s passion for adventure has lead him to travel the world, while earning a living from his camera. Stephane has shot and worked for Warren Miller, MTV, HBO, OUTSIDE Television, RSN and many more.

Let’s find out how this Telemark bum has created a career out of desire to ski powder EVERYDAY.

 

 

avatar Stephane Riendeau

 

 

TGPLogo

Here is Stephane’s last movie, it rips. If you want to get stoke for the season, this is it, Tough Guy’s way

sunset stephane ski

Links to the show:

Tough Guy Productions

Grand Targhee Big Mountain Tele Comp 2016

Dylan Crossman

Stephane’s youtube channel

Unparalleled and  The Lost Season

Moonlight Mountain Gear

Stephane would like to thank his sponsors

 

 

 

 

cliff bar Flylow G3 gopro SCARPAmoonlight logo

 

 

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 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 »

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

 

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