Telemark is a fluid movement, renowned for its style.
While we do it for the pure pleasure it brings, the technique is quite a challenge to master.
Out the many things, short turns AND upper body position are not easy at first.
Rhythm is key to moving fast from one turn to the other. And keeping the torso oriented in the fall line is the absolute criteria to make it happen. Everyone’s heard about having the shoulders facing the fall line or having your hands up in front of you, here is an exercise to really make it all happen AND making you ski short turns.
To do this, you should be a confident intermediate skier, able to ski groomed blue (difficult) runs in a medium radius turn.
Imagine Elvis, saluting the thousand in the crowd in front of him.
Now it’s your turn. Imagine you are Elvis and the thousands are at the base of the ski run. Every turn, to keep your audience, you have to salute them just as seen above, both hands forward. Here’s how you do it.
1. Select a blue run that as a constant pitch. Make sure it’s a run you feel comfortable skiing as you are about to try something new, something that can put you off balance.
2. While you make a turn, rapidly squat down in a telemark turn. As you do so, bring both hands forward, high, right in front of your face. Look at Elvis, elbows are bent, do the same. (There is no pole plant in this exercise.)
3. Salute the crowd of thousands saying: «Yeah» (This is where your speed should be the slowest, your skis should be across the fall line)
4. Stand up from your squat, lower your hands at about hip height. Keep your elbows bent. It’s important that your hands don’t go too low or backwards. (Your skis should be in the fall line, this is where you should gain some speed.)
5. Repeat step 1, turning the other way. You should feel the rhythm after 2 or 3 turns and that’s where this exercise really pays of.
Bonus tip #1: For the upper body, only your shoulders are in motion, elbows and wrists are not moving. Although you don’t need your poles for this exercise, you can keep them and rely on them to balance yourself if you were to lose control.
Bonus tip #2: If you feel that you gain too much speed over a few turns, practice each turn as a stop turn, bringing your skis to halt at each turn. It won’t be as easy to feel the rhythm but it will allow you to master this weird movement on both sides.
Bonus tip #3: Like any exercise, this only to get you to feel something different, to experiment. Make sure you try normal, short turn, with a pole plant, make sure you have fun.
Finally practice regularly, but don’t over practice. Practice to a point that you feel that you gave it a try (one run or two) but stop before you feel exasperated. Repeat later in the day or another time.