A few assumptions at the beginning: You already have your Telemark equipment with you, you have skied before and you are on the mountain ready to take your first steps on telemark. This is going to be awesome and you did the right thing.
First of all: take your time. This should take anything from 1-4 days time to get the basics. Send your friends away and find the most shallow part of the ski resort. The beginning needs to be very slow in order to avoid learning wrong behavior. Too many people pick up tele in half a day and start running after their friends having no time to actually learn the technique properly.
If you have adjustable poles make them as short as possible. Now while standing there get into the “tele-stance”. It should look something like this:
Imagine balancing your center of gravity above the midpoint between the pressure points on both of your skis. Ideally you are balancing 50/50 between your front and back ski. Coming from alpine skiing this might feel like putting 80% pressure on the back ski.
Once comfortable in a relaxed tele stance use your poles to push yourself across the (shallow) slope at walking speed. (Note: the uphill ski should be the back ski) Once you start moving you might notice yourself turning uphill without much control. This happens because your back ski slides down the mountain hence turning you uphill. To solve this you need to learn to edge your back ski. Go into tele stance standing still and practice edging your back ski. Practice edging while also putting on some pressure. You will quickly notice that you can soon prevent yourself from turning uphill. This is really the secret to proper telemarking. Learn to control your traverse.
Once you have mastered controlling your traverse you have mastered the basics of telemarking. From here on you have a solid foundation to go forward. Happy shredding!
- Many people dont take enough time learning to control the basic tele stance. This is most easily counteracted by going very slow. Get into tele stance and stay there. Most people loose their tele stance because they loose control – often resulting in a “fake” telemark where they ski on their downhill ski and drag the uphill ski behind keeping most of the pressure on the forward ski.
- Using normal ski length poles. When you are telemarking you are riding considerably lower than if you are skiing alpine. Shorten your poles for some comfortable pole plants while riding low.
- Focus on proper balance, keep your upper body centered and upright. This will make telemarking easier, more stable and much more efficient in the long run.