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     the story of telemark    the boots    the skis
     the bindings    the release plate    the helmet
     the poles    race circuit    race type
  A bit of history
  The story of telemark
  At the beginning, Northern Europe habitants used skiing as a way of transportation. 4000 years ago, prehistoric hunters used wooden skates to travel on the snow. The word "ski", meaning "log" in Norwegian, seems to have been used to identify this new way of locomotion. But the story goes further, since certain historians maintain that the population that immigrated in Northern Europe, at the end of the ice age, is in fact the genuine inventors of the ski.

And so, going back in time, we discover that the habitants of Siberia and Mongolia had already invented "snow skates". They called them "suski".

Only in the XIX th century did the ski go from practical way of locomotion to a sporting activity. As years went by, the Europeans learned to enjoy this new sport. Telemark is a Norwegian province where ski races were organized. In 1868, Sondre Norheim will be the first to go down hill on skis. He also invented a particular technique of turning while in descent. His bindings, important part of the equipment, were made of thin weaved willow branches, would be tied around the heel. The technique, presented by Norheim, was then described has an elegant and efficient leap, giving way to a successful , well balanced turn. Quickly, this telemark technique became more and more popular with the Europeans and even the Americans.

Modern skiing as we know it today, and the "Christiania" turn has cast a shadow on telemark, loosing some of it’s popularity. But in the 70’s, with the "return to nature" era, telemark will make a come back. We can easilly recognize this traditional Norwegian way of skiing by its grace, beauty and elegance.

Telemark is now a discipline recognized by the International skiing Federation. More than a 100 000 people across the world practice this sport. We can still see original retro style skiers. But more and more people are taking advantage of the new technologies in ways of clothing and equipment. High tech telemarkers ? Yes ! For the greatest pleasure of all concerned ! Also associated to this beautiful discipline is liberty, communion with nature, great social interaction, good fellowship and even friendly competition.

  The boots
  This piece of equipment is the one that has known the greatest evolution in the latest years. The traditional leather boot has made way to synthetic materials (plastic, carbon, etc.) in order to offer more rigidity and control. Most alpine center skier will prefer these new materials. However, leather boots still have their part of the market, particularly for backcountry skiers.

  The skis
  Telemark skis are similar to the ones used in alpine centers. The principal difference, for certain manufacturers, is found in the structure of the ski, in the heel area. Some will persist in producing a specific ski for alpine skier and another for telemarkers.

  The bindings
  The binding constitutes a key element of the telemark equipment. It is different from the alpine binding, holding only the front of the boots. In so, the binding allows the “free heeling”. Unfortunately, most binding do not offer the release security mechanism that the alpine has. This component has to be bought separately.

  The release plate
  The release plate, recently appearing on the market, are available almost everywhere. These plates, allowing the binding to detach from the ski in case of a fall, are definitely the norm in security to avoid ankle and knee injuries. Although quite expensive (but incomparable to the “price” of a knee), is about to be mandatory on the Provincial race circuit in Quebec. It is already a rule for the Canadian and World-class teams. With the coming of the rigid boot and performance skis, those who will want to save by neglecting to buy them will soon pay the consequences. Could you imagine yourself going down hill in full speed, totally locked on your skis ? Why would you do it on telemark ?

  The Helmet
  The helmet is a mandatory piece of equipment for the Provincial race circuit in Quebec and it’s affiliated clubs. Essential element, children and adults should wear at the helmet all time, equally. It is worn by cyclists, big and small, why should it be any different for skiers ? We know the speed obtained in skiing or telemarking is very similar to the one obtain on a bicycle, and that the traffic in alpine center is greater than one found on cycling paths. Conclusion ? The helmet is funky ! Why should we go without ?

  The poles
  When used for telemark in alpine centers, poles are a bit shorter than for regular skiing. The position for a telemark turns is lower than usual, so you are closer to the snow. On the other hand, in an ascent, we need a longer pole. This is why we find adjustable poles to meet all conditions.

  The Competitions
  Race circuit
        Telemark is an individual sport, competitiveness is not it’s first priority. But you will find some adepts that enjoy races. It is still a good way for telemarkers to better their performance and measure themselves to one another.
There is a world cup circuit, but most of the competitions take place in Europe. In Quebec, the provincial race circuit is organized by Telemark Quebec. You are all invited to follow the team and even participate in the races. You might enjoy it ! There are about 8 races through out the season. You can find all the dates in the calendar section.
  Race type
  Telemark races are similar to alpine competitions. The basic principal is to go a certain distance with different difficulties and in the least bit of time. The particularity of the telemark race is found in the penalties imposed by the judges. They are present trough out the course, and verify the technique of the skier: for example: the distance of a jump, the right telemark position in the gates, and so on. There are 3 types of competitions:

  • Giant slalom: This type of competition is very similar to the alpine Giant Slalom. The skier has a certain number of gates to clear. Judges must evaluate the skier’s style and make sure that each gate is crossed in the telemark turn position. If not, the standard penalty is of one (1) second for each mistake. You can also find certain GS courses that include a jump. In that case, the skier is judged on the distance of the jump, and the landing in the telemark position.

  • The classic: This type of race demand superior athletic qualities of the skier because of the variety of elements that composes it. The first portion consist of a Giant Slalom, intersected by a few jumps, followed by a series of "Camel bumps", a skating ascent and finally a long distance jump. All stages of the race must be in the telemark position.

  • The sprint classic: Essentially, it is the same race as the "classic", but in a shorter distance.

  • The others: The coming of the New School definitely has had an impact on telemark. In so, it is not uncommon to have “Big Air”, moguls or even "Slalom Duel" competitions in the race circuit.

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