Telemark Skiing

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In the mid-1800s, Sondre Norheim, a young farmer from Morgedal, in the county of Telemark, created a whole new style of skiing. Morgedal is in the mountains, so the skimakers there sought designs that would perform well in the surrounding rugged terrain, both in everyday winter skiing and for impromptu sporting meetings.

Norheim modified his skis by adding firm bindings, which hold the ski boots to the skis and allow rhe feet control over them. He also gave them “sidecut”, a slight hourglass profile when seen from above, which enables the skis to run true and turn easily.

Sondre Norheim
Sondre Norheim
Telemark ski binding and boots
Telemark ski binding and boots

Norheim and his friends used the adapted skis to perfect new manoeuvres, including landing from airborne flights off snow-covered rooftops and natural outcrops. Soon they were ready to show off their new skills, and this led to the first ski-jumping contest in 1879. The bent-knee stance with one ski trailing soon became known as the “Telemark”.

Telemark skiing in Telemark costume
Telemark skiing in Telemark costume

In modern Telemark skiing, the heel is free to lift up from the ski and turns are steered, with one ski trailing and at an angle to the other. Competitive Telemark ski races are now held on packed slopes, as are Alpine ski races, but true Telemark skiing has spawned the revival of skiathlons, in which competitors must ski jump, ski through a slalom course, and run a cross-xcountry ski race, ll on the same pair of skis.

Telemark Skiing, written by Tor Kjolberg

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