Do you want to challenge yourself on the slopes? Then 'free the heel, free the mind' and give telemarking a go!

Telemark skiing is a form of downhill skiing where the boot is attached to the ski at the toe and the heel is able to move vertically. The word telemark actually denotes a type of turn where the downhill ski is moved ahead of the uphill ski, with the inside knee bent significantly. Although boots are stiff like those used for downhill skiing, the 'bellows' in the forefoot allow the boot the flex during turns.

Telemark skiing is more difficult than normal alpine skiing, requiring good balance and a lot of strength in the legs. However many skiers convert to telemarking looking for a new challenge, or because of the 'surfy' feel associated with telemarking in powder.

There’s no reason why you can’t try telemarking, and it's worth taking a few lessons and renting equipment before investing in all the gear. Not all rental shops stock equipment, so it's worth doing some research before you travel. It’s best to start with an easy-turning ski, like a relatively wide twin-tip. Many telemark skiers opt for a regular alpine freeride on which they mount telemark bindings, which feature adjustable springs to retain the boot (often referred to as ‘free-heel’ bindings).

Many major ski schools will provide telemarking tuition but again, it’s worth investigating before you travel. Specialist forums such as are useful for finding out more, plus features some UK-specific information.

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