I’m a Telemarker, not a Telemarketer

Posted By: The Ski Channel on February 1, 2011 10:10 am

- By Lorin Paley

Before I freed my mind by freeing my heel, I took a lot of things for granted. No yoga-like maneuvers to wrestle leashes onto skis, no going over the handlebars, AND I could describe my sport in two words, alpine skiing. Two words resonated with everyone from city slickers to Texans. They may not have been familiar with the details of the sport, but at one point or another they have seen it on tv or in a film. Since switching to telemark, the opposite has been true. On one occasion I even jumped in the isle of a plane to demonstrate how the heel comes up in a telemark turn.

Despite telemark skiing’s lack of familiarity, there is no form of skiing that is more fun in any condition, and there is no ski community that is tighter knit. When an alpine skier sees a fellow skier, it’s just another skier, but telemarkers have an instant connection. We chat; we wave. We instantly understand that the other tele’r must be BA, just by the sheer fact that they too can maneuver the mountain without the security of a heel clamp.

Sondre Norheim, an adventurous Norwegian, invented the telemark turn sometime in the 1850′s, most likely after checking his hunting traps and having a few too many shots of aquavit. He decided that side stepping down the hill wasn’t much fun and neither was landing on his face, often the result of trying to do parallel turns on heel-less telemark bindings. Either way, Sondre figured out that by keeping your weight in the middle of a lunge position (not all on the downhill foot, as is the case in alpine) he could stay upright and literally lunge down the mountain. Much has changed since then (not to mention many lazy people deciding to “lock” the heel down in the early 1900′s), and there are as many different styles as there are bindings, but the main principles of telemark have stayed the same.

I don’t regret becoming a telemark skier and racer. There may not be fame and fortune, but by Skiing on the Telemark World Cup, I have traveled throughout Europe, met lots of terrific people and even won a few Junior World Championship races. So, if you want to go back to your skiing roots and get more face shots on a powder day, drop a knee (the uphill one – don’t be a gaper). Go pick up a pair of teles from your local ski shop and give it a try.


- Lorin Paley is a National Telemark A team member. She won 2 silvers and 2 bronzes on the World Cup in 2010 and won two gold medals at the Junior World Championships in 2009. To check in on how this season is going, go to www.lorinpaley.com.                                                                                                           

top photo: showhugger.com

bottom photo: hostfest.com