Telemark is a type of alpine skiing named after the Telemark region of Norway, where the sport is believed to have originated. In telemark skiing, the skier uses a special type of binding that allows the heel to lift off the ski, resulting in a smoother, more dynamic skiing style.
Sondre Norheim, the telemark pioneer
The history of telemark skiing dates back to the mid-19th century, when Sondre Norheim, a Norwegian ski pioneer, developed a new type of ski binding that allowed skiers to turn more easily.
Sondre was born on 10 June 1825 in the hamlet of Morgedal in Telemark. At that time this village in southern Norway had about 500 inhabitants. He spent his early childhood there with his parents, grandparents and older brother. The family was poor and his ancestors were generations of cotton farmers.
Sondre's binding, known as the "telemark binding", was a major innovation that allowed skiers to turn more easily by lifting their heel and transferring their weight to the ball of the foot. This allowed skiers to make tighter turns and squeeze through tight spaces, making it a popular choice for ski mountaineering and touring.
An emerging popularity
In the early 20th century, telemark skiing gained popularity in the United States, particularly in the Rocky Mountains. American ski instructors, who were trained in Norway, introduced the telemark turn to American skiers and it quickly became a popular technique for recreational skiers.
In the 1960s and 1970s, telemark skiing experienced a resurgence in popularity as more and more skiers began to appreciate the freedom and versatility of the sport. This renewed interest in telemark skiing was largely due to the development of new and more advanced telemark bindings, which allowed skiers to turn and control their skis more easily.
In the 1980s and 1990s, telemark skiing continued to grow in popularity and became a recognised discipline in the world of ski racing. Telemark races, which involve racing down the slopes as fast as possible while making telemark turns, have become a popular event in ski resorts around the world.
And now ...
Today, telemark skiing is enjoyed by skiers of all ages and abilities, and is a popular choice for backcountry touring and ski mountaineering. Telemark skiers enjoy the freedom and versatility of the sport, as well as the opportunity to explore the mountains in a more dynamic and flexible way.
Despite its long and rich history, telemark skiing remains a dynamic and exciting sport that continues to evolve and develop. With the development of new equipment and techniques, telemark skiers can continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in the mountains and experience the pleasure of skiing in a whole new way.