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

 

 

 

THIS SEASON: SKI WITH RENE-MARTIN

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Hello telemark tribe.

For this season, I have set myself some goals.

I do this every season.

This season, I want to experience the community like never before.

You have been so awesome supporting this website and I now feel that it has grown into something bigger.

During the winter, I get 20 or 30 emails a week specifically thanking me on how my teaching has changed your telemark technique. Most often, people will talk about how one of the 7 flaws has solved a lot of little bad habits.

This is great but this season, I want to experience something new.

I want to invite you to ski with me in Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

This is a mountain in Western Canada, and I have never been. I’ve heard a lot of great things from Cristina Gareau and Stephane Riendeau, two past guests on the Telemark Tips Podcast.

And so here we are.

Ski with Rene-Martin in Revelstoke

This is made possible by Gendron Travel, Quebec’s biggest ski travel agency.

I’ve partnered with them to organize one week of Telemark skiing in Revelstoke.

 

WHO IS IT FOR:

  • Strong intermediate and above, you have to be comfortable going down in a strong telemark turn and have experience skiing in powder. This destination is not for beginners. Much of the territory is composed of glades and alpine terrain. Expect moguls, powder and long runs.
  • 19 years old and older

WHAT YOU SHOULD EXPECT:

  • This is not a private or group lesson.
  • This a guided trip with teaching so that you can improve your telemark technics significantly. I will film you, teach you, give you tips, exercises to do BUT, in the end, expect more skiing and less than two hours of teaching a day.
  • Expect resort inbound skiing. No backcountry with the group, but you can always choose to leave the group and ski by yourself.
  • I’m not a travel agency, that’s why I’ve partnered with Gendron Travel. In the end, they will be responsible for putting together your trip, booking your insurance, taking care of cancellation if the need arises… Make sure you address all questions to them regarding these topics. Gendron Travel can also book your flight and offer advice.
  • I will take up to 11 telemark skiers.
  • The price does not include flight, equipment, meals and alcohol. It will include lodging, transportation, ski tickets and my services.
  • The Sutton Place is a 4-star hotel. So, Tele-ski bums are welcomed but will have to shower.

Want to join?

Easy.

All is explained on this page.

Price, what’s include, visit http://ski.voyagesgendron.com/en/2017/09/28/13768/

If it’s meant to happen…

This is my goal

Have a great season.

Rene

 

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

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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 »

Telemark freeski competion at Grand Targhee

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February 22nd, Grand Targhee will host the Telemark freeski competition. One of the biggest event on the telemark scene for sure. Check out the Facebook page for more information

Big-Mtn-Telemark-Comp 1200Here’s what organizer Jake Sakson has to say about it:

3 reasons to come to the Grand Targhee Tele Comp:

1) Have one hell of good time

Its always fun when there is a bunch of telemarkers in one place

2) Meet a bunch of rad telemarkers

You’ll never be without a couch to crash in any ski town again.

3) Challenge yourself as a skier

Competitions require all the fundamentals that make for good freeskiing. Technique, line choice and focus. In the end it’s a learning environment and a great place to put your skills to the test or bounce ideas around with fellow freeheelers.
Venues are looking good! Should be an awesome contest. I look forward to seeing all y’all freeheelers out there.
Contact: jake.sakson@gmail.com with lodging questionsDay2Day1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some serious telemark skiers are gonna be there but the venue is more than that. Weather you are trying to prove the world your abilities or your just trying to have fun with a good crowd, don’t miss your chance.

Here’s a video of Klara Wholers who finished 2nd last year

And here’s Mark Robbins who finished first

Have fun every one

Absolute Telemark offers free email updates, subscribe below !

 

Telemark tutorials

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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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