Telemark skiing combines the action of traditional cross-country skiing with the excitement of downhill skiing. A separate system of techniques and turns allows telemark skiers to negotiate the slopes of the Vail Valley, and the experience is not soon forgotten. If you consider yourself a solid intermediate or even an expert skier, a telemark class will demand a new set of reflexes and unusual techniques.
Telemark skiing is a term used for skiing using the Telemark turn. It is also known as "free heel skiing." Unlike alpine skiing equipment, the skis used for telemarking have a binding that only connects the boot to the ski at the toes, just as in cross-country skiing. Telemark turns are led with the heel flat on the outside ski (the downhill ski at the end of the turn), while the inside (uphill) ski is pulled beneath the skier's body with a flexed knee and raised heel.
Telemark skiing is popular both on area ski mountains and in out-of-bounds territory. "Skins" can be applied to the bottom of Telemark skis. These synthetic applications have texture in one direction, allowing the user to skate uphill, but preventing a slide back down. Because the ankle is free in a Telemark binding, it is easier to climb or skate than in a traditional ski.
Many vendors in the area rent Telemark equipment. There are also classes and lessons available. At certain times in the year, Vail and Beaver Creek even offer free Telemark lessons but check with your resort to see if the classes are available and open before planning to attend.
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