How to Choose the Right Telemark Skis: Master the Art of Free-Heel Flair!

How to Choose the Right Telemark Skis: Master the Art of Free-Heel Flair!

I remember the first time my friend and I tried Telemark skiing together like it was yesterday. It was a crisp winter morning and we were both eager to hit the slopes with our new Telemark skis.

My friend had done his research and seemed confident in his choice of skis and sizing, but I couldn’t help but wonder if he had made the right decision.

As we started our first run, I noticed that my friend was skiing with ease and grace, carving turns effortlessly down the mountain. His skis seemed perfectly suited to his size and skill level, and I couldn’t help but feel envious of his smooth technique.

But as the day wore on, I began to realise that my friend’s success wasn’t just luck or natural talent. He had done his homework and made sure to choose the right skis and sizing for his needs. His attention to detail had paid off, and he was now reaping the rewards of a great day on the slopes.

In hindsight, I just should have asked him “How to choose the right telemark skis?”, before planning the trip

And as for my search for the perfect Telemark skis and sizing? Well, let’s just say that there’s more to the story – hence this guide to walk you through the process of selecting the ideal planks for your skiing adventures based on my battle scars!.

Telemark skiing is a fantastic way to combine the best of both worlds – the freedom and versatility of backcountry touring with the excitement and speed of alpine skiing. But how do we choose the perfect pair of telemark skis to suit our needs?

Actually, there are several factors to consider, including our height, weight, ability level, and skiing style. Proper sizing of equipment is not only essential for optimal performance but also helps prevent injury .

And, it’s also essential to balance our skiing goals with our wallets. Are we gearing up for occasional resort outings or planning backcountry expeditions?

By assessing our intended usage and budget, we can make informed decisions when looking into various ski models and brands. Thankfully, there are plenty of options available, from going down the pre-loved ski route for budget-conscious skiers to exploring the latest and greatest telemark gear innovations for those who won’t settle for anything less than the best .

Assess Your Skill Level

Assess Your Skill Level

Before diving into the world of Telemark skiing, it’s crucial to honestly assess our skill level. This helps us choose skis that complement our abilities and ensures a more enjoyable experience on the slopes.

For beginners, shorter skis are the way to go. They provide increased manoeuvrability and are more forgiving in turns, making them ideal for learning the ropes. But don’t worry, there are no hard and fast rules. Remember that time when we believed unicorns existed? Well, just like that myth, ski sizing is more art than science!

As we progress in our Telemark skiing journey, longer skis start to offer distinct advantages like enhanced stability and control. However, this comes with a catch – a wider stance and more assertive technique are required. Remember those yoga classes we took to improve our flexibility? They’ll come in handy now!

It’s a smart idea to evaluate our skiing abilities and familiarise ourselves with different ski profiles. Knowing our strengths and weaknesses helps us make a better-informed decision, avoiding the pitfall of ending up on ski hill with skis that feel like unruly gremlins underfoot.

So, shall we take a moment to reflect on our Telemark skiing prowess before taking the plunge? With a little introspection and a good grasp on our capabilities, we’ll be on our way to finding the perfect pair of Telemark skis.

Consider Ski Length and Width

Consider Ski Length and Width

We know you’re all about that perfect telemark skiing experience, and the quest starts with choosing the right ski length and width. Prepare for amazement as we guide you through this crucial aspect of ski selection, sprinkled with brilliant examples and flavoured with a dash of wit.

Ski Length

When it comes to ski length, it’s not a one-size-fits-all scenario. As a general rule, beginners should aim for skis that reach somewhere between their chin and nose, while intermediate and advanced skiers may prefer longer skis for better stability at higher speeds .

Worry not, fellow ski enthusiasts; we’ve got the magic formula! Take your height and use it as the mid-point of a 30-centimetre range of ski lengths. So, if you’re 175cm tall like our friend, Joe, he should be searching for skis between 160cm and 190cm long . Do keep in mind your skiing ability and style as you peruse the options.

Ski Width

Ah, ski width – the unsung hero of the skiing world. Many a toe has been saved from calamity, thanks to a properly selected ski width. One rule of thumb to follow is to choose skis that are either narrower or wider than your foot. The average foot width stands at around 100mm, but do take note of individual differences .

Let’s put our newfound wisdom to work on fat skis, shall we? If your foot measures 98mm and you have a penchant for backcountry skiing, you might consider skis with a wider waist width for better flotation in deep snow. On the other hand, narrow skis might be your loyal companion if you’re carving out smooth turns on groomed slopes.

So there you have it – the essentials of ski length and width, supercharged with examples and spiced up with remarkable facts. We hope you found this information as thrilling as a ride down a powdery slope!

Evaluate Types of Telemark Skis

Evaluate Types of Telemark Skis

Now that we’ve introduced you to Telemark skiing, let’s dive into the different types of Telemark skis. We’ll explore touring skis, all-mountain skis, and backcountry skis so you can make an informed decision!

Touring Skis

Touring skis are perfect for those who enjoy exploring the great outdoors. They’re built for ascending and descending, and with a focus on lightweight construction, they make climbing a breeze. For Telemark touring skis, you’ll generally want a moderate underfoot width and an eye for weight. As we climb those snowy peaks, we don’t want to carry any unnecessary burdens, do we? For instance, one could use an all-around ski with up to 95mm underfoot, paired with a solid touring binding.

All-mountain Skis

When you’re in the market for versatility, all-mountain skis are your go-to. They’re designed with a balance of performance for both on-piste and off-piste conditions. According to Ski Mag, there’s no such thing as a Telemark turn on skis anymore – you just have to choose what kind of skis you want to make Telemark turns on. For example, the Völkl Mantra 102 is an excellent all-mountain choice.

Picture yourself carving through freshly groomed corduroy in the morning and venturing into the wild side with some off-piste action in the afternoon. If that’s your cup of tea, these all-mountain beauties are the perfect companions for your adventures!

Backcountry Skis

Do you hear the call of untouched snow and endless fresh tracks? Backcountry skis are made for you, my adventurous friend! In the realm of Telemark skis, ABSOLUTE TELEMARK suggests choosing a ski that’s not too rigid at the tip to avoid the back ski sinking too much in deep snow.

When selecting a backcountry ski, you may want to look for wider underfoot dimensions and a rockered profile for easier floatation in powder. This way, you’ll be cruising through those pristine lines in no time!

So, whether you’re looking to explore the beauty of nature through touring, carving your way across the whole mountain, or venturing off the beaten path to blaze your trails, there’s a perfect Telemark ski waiting for your next adventure. Those skis are out there, so go forth and conquer the slopes with confidence!

Understand Binding Systems

Understand Binding Systems

Bindings are like the glue that holds your telemark skiing experience together. So, let’s dive deeper into understanding the two types of telemark bindings: 75mm and NTN.

75mm Bindings

75mm bindings, fondly known as the “duckbill,” have been the go-to binding system for telemark skiers for years. This traditional telemark binding system comprises a wide, 75mm toe section on the boot and a three-pin setup at the front of the binding, essentially forming the shape of a duck’s beak. Here’s what sets it apart:

  • Flexibility: The 75mm system offers a bit more boot flex, giving you the freedom to lean into turns more easily.
  • Simplicity: With fewer moving parts, the 75mm system is a no-fuss design, perfect for those who prefer a more minimalistic approach to skiing.
  • Compatibility: Because it has been around for quite some time, it’s easy to find an array of boots and skis that work with 75mm bindings.

However, we should note that the 75mm system is slowly losing popularity in favour of the modern NTN system.

NTN Bindings

Standing for “New Telemark Norm,” NTN bindings are geared towards those looking for a more modern and refined skiing experience. Compared to the traditional 75mm system, NTN bindings offer several key advantages:

  • Improved Power Transfer: NTN bindings feature a second heel connection, providing better stability and power in your turns.
  • Safety: Unlike the 75mm system, NTN bindings come with a safety release mechanism, which could mean the difference between a graceful tumble and a serious injury.
  • Step-in Convenience: NTN bindings allow for an easier step-in process, meaning you won’t be wrestling with your skis before hitting the slopes.

Despite these advantages, NTN bindings may not be for everyone, as they can come with a steeper learning curve and require specific boots.

So, whether you want to stick with the tried-and-tested 75mm system or step into the future with NTN bindings, the choice is ultimately yours. You’ll want to consider your skiing style, skill level, and budget to make the best decision for your telemark skiing adventure.

Choose the Right Boots

Choose the Right Boots

Now that we’ve discussed various aspects of Telemark skis, let’s move on to an equally important factor – choosing the right Telemark boots. Remember, the perfect fit is of utmost importance, as it ensures not only comfort but also optimal performance while skiing.

Telemark Skier Magazine emphasises the importance of a dynamically comfortable, snug, and powerful fit. So, how do we achieve that? First things first, be aware that half sizes can be quite important, depending on the manufacturer. For instance, at Scarpa and Crispi, a size 25.5 boot has the same shell as a size 26. This information can help you find the ideal boot size.

When trying on boots, it’s essential to consider the flexion in Telemark skiing. To account for this, we suggest going half a size or a full size bigger than your regular shoe size. This will ensure a comfortable fit while accommodating the flexion that comes with Telemark skiing.

Additionally, the boot should have ample features to suit your skiing style and provide maximum support during turns. Some features to look for include:

  • Adjustable buckles – for a personalised snug fit
  • Power strap – to aid in power transfer and improve control
  • Thermo-mouldable liners – for customised comfort and insulation

Remember, the right boot is crucial in connecting you to your skis and enhancing overall performance. So, take your time trying on boot selection from different models and brands, and don’t be shy to ask for professional advice.

Additional Features and Accessories

Additional Features and Accessories

In this section, we’ll delve into some extra characteristics and add-ons that can help you make a more informed decision when purchasing your telemark skis. Let’s break it down into three important sub-sections: Camber and Rocker Profiles, Ski Construction and Materials, and Climbing Skins.

Camber and Rocker Profiles

Telemark skis come in various camber and rocker profiles, which can significantly impact their performance on different terrains. The camber refers to the arch under the ski when it’s unweighted, providing a solid base for turning and edge control. A ski with good camber will perform efficiently in hard snow conditions like crud, chopped snow, wind-packed, and heavy spring snow.

On the other hand, rocker is the upturn of a ski’s tip and tail, which can make them more manoeuvrable in deep snow. A ski with lots of rocker may be ideal for backcountry telemark and touring in big powder conditions.

To strike a balance between performance in various snow conditions, consider a ski with both camber underfoot and rocker in the tip and tail. This combination will give you the best of both worlds.

Ski Construction and Materials

Just as in alpine skis, telemark skis can be made from various materials, each with its unique characteristics. Common materials include wood cores for the traditional feel, carbon for lightweight stiffness, and titanal for superior power and damping.

When choosing the construction of your telemark skis, it’s crucial to consider the conditions you’ll encounter and your skiing preferences. For example, if you tend to ski more aggressive lines or in tough snow conditions, you might benefit from a stiffer, more robust ski. If you prioritise ease of turning and lighter weight for touring, a more supple ski will serve you well.

Climbing Skins

Last but not least, we can’t talk about telemark skiing without mentioning climbing skins. If you’re venturing into the backcountry or undertaking long tours, a decent set of skins will make your life much easier by providing better traction on uphill climbs. Look for skins that match the width of your skis and have a reliable attachment system.

So, as you venture out to find the perfect telemark skis, keep these additional features and accessories in mind. Remember that it’s essential to think about how you’ll be using your skis, your skiing style, and your personal preferences. Now go forth and conquer the slopes!

Seek Expert Advice and Test Skis

Seek Expert Advice and Test Skis

When choosing the right telemark skis, there’s no substitute for expert advice and hands-on experience. We can’t stress this enough – it’s essential to chat with seasoned telemarkers and try a few skis before buying. After all, what works for one person might not be the perfect fit for another.

We recommend heading to your local ski shop or resort demo day to test different telemark skis. This way, you get a feel for which ones suit your style and ability. Testing skis also allows you to gauge how they perform under different snow conditions. Taking them for a spin guarantees that you’re bringing home a top pair of skis that will make you feel like a true telemark hero.

In addition to testing, don’t forget to pick the brains of local ski experts. They’re a treasure trove of knowledge and tips that can help guide your decision. You can have a chat with them about factors like:

  • Ski length and width
  • Sidecut and rocker/camber profile
  • Stiffness and flex pattern
  • The right bindings and boots for your setup

Did you know that there are no longer “telemark-specific” skis? We kid you not! Nowadays, you can make telemark turns with a variety of skis, as demonstrated by a gear reviewer who tested telemark turns on the Völkl Mantra 102 . So, don’t limit yourself to traditional telemark setups, as you might find your perfect match with a different ski type.

Remember, when choosing the right telemark skis, there’s no substitute for trying before buying and leaning on the knowledge of experts. By doing so, you’ll be well on your way to finding the ideal setup for carving turns and embracing the free-heel life.”


Telemark Skis FAQ

As we reach the penultimate section of our article, let’s address some frequently asked questions about choosing the right telemark skis. Sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of telemark skiing queries!

How important is the size of telemark skis?

Finding the perfect telemark ski size is crucial for your skiing experience. If your skis aren’t the right size, it’s a bit like trying to dance in shoes that are too big or small. Keep in mind factors like skier height, weight, ability level, and skiing style when selecting your skis .

What’s the ideal width for telemark skis?

It’s recommended to opt for skis with a width of about 4-6 inches; this width will provide better stability on the slopes while ensuring you can master any manoeuvre .

Are there specific skis made for telemark skiing?

Interestingly enough, there’s no such thing as a telemark technique on skis anymore. You simply need to figure out which kind of skis you’d like to make telemark turns on . Have a gander at your skiing mates’ gear for some inspiration!

Do beginners require special telemark skis?

As a beginner, it’s important to find the right balance between accessibility and performance. While there aren’t specific beginner skis, look for skis catered to your skill level, and factor in terrain and overall usage . Nobody likes a show-off, so start with something manageable before progressing to more advanced gear

There you have it, folks! We hope these FAQs have shed some light on the mysterious art of choosing your telemark skiing companion. Now go forth, find your perfect ski, and let the adventures commence!

Final Thoughts!

As we’ve been discussing the ins and outs of selecting the ideal telemark skis, we hope this article has provided you with valuable insights and guidance. Of course, we’d like to send you off with a few last thoughts that should come in handy when you make that all-important decision.

Firstly, let’s not forget that it is crucial to consider your skiing ability level, style, and your specific goals on the slopes when selecting your telemark skis. The right pair should be the perfect balance between performance, durability, and versatility .

Next, whether you’re a backcountry explorer or a resort rider, remember that seeking expert advice from dedicated telemark ski shops is always a smart move . They will give you invaluable tips on bindings, boots, and more, ensuring that you get the most out of your skiing experience. After all, nobody wants to end up with an ill-fitted boot or a binding malfunction several miles into the wilderness!

As a final food for thought – preferably enjoyed with a hot chocolate in a cosy mountain lodge, we want to remind you that telemarking is a fantastic way to maximise your fun on the slopes. So, maybe everyone should own a pair of telemark skis ? Have a blast exploring the mountains, and rest assured that with the perfect telemark skis in tow, you’re set for the time of your life. Happy skiing, folks!

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Picture of Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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