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X-training help for heavy Tele

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X-training help for heavy Tele

Postby MikeK » Thu Jun 29, 2017 10:01 am

I just started trying some Heavy Tele skiing on piste last year and it was quite a struggle for me. I tend to default to parallel turns on hard groomers, and I was really struggling to try to get my weight off my lead leg. I also noticed that I am INCREDIBLY weak in terms of flexing boots and cables. Coming from skiing XC and XCD with leather on soft snow and with soft boots, it felt near impossible for me to get weight on the back leg. I felt like all my strength was going just trying to flex the boots. I'm not skiing with anything heavy, just T2s and Voile Cable bindings. I need to work on my heavy technique and comfort, but I think I really need to work on my strength. What exercises can I do to help me with this? It seems just squats aren't working the right muscles...

I've been MTB heavily in the non-ski season, but to me, that doesn't work those muscles. It's good for my XC/D type stuff, but plastic tele is a different beast for me.

Any help appreciated, we've got a ways to go...
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Re: X-training help for heavy Tele

Postby lowangle al » Thu Jun 29, 2017 11:23 am

Hi Mike, It's been a while, I hope all is going well. I don't think it's conditioning, it takes a while to figure out how to pressure plastic boots in a tele stance and remain centered. Not being centered(too much weight on one ski) is what burns your legs out. It takes time to get used to stiffer boots and you may have to adjust your stance. If it were ski season I would recomend wearing them for touring to get used to them but since it's not you can get the feel by wearing them at home and practicing getting in and out of a tele stance until it feels like you are getting about equal weight on both feet. You can also do lunges with or without light dumbells, but instead of doing a standard lunge, similate the tele stance and keep weight on both legs. I think it's possible to get this mostly figured out before you hit the slopes next season.

One thing I found helpful in getting more weight on the rear foot is to put pressure on the boot cuff with your shin to drive the force onto the ball of your foot. This may also help get you into a tighter stance if that is what you need.
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Re: X-training help for heavy Tele

Postby MikeK » Thu Jun 29, 2017 11:37 am

Hey Al - all is good, how are you?

Yeah, it's a couple things I guess... first off is technique. I feel really awkward trying to tele on piste. It's just a feel/trust thing. I pick up speed and then don't feel like I'm going to turn, and then resort to parallel. I've rarely had this issue with XCD. It's hard to explain really because I don't quite get why I'm doing it.

Second is rear ski pressure. If I'm just standing around I feel ok flexing the boots, etc. As soon as I start moving and I try, all I feel is shin pressure and I can't tell what is going on down at the ski. I feel like I am skiing with my rear knee. No feel whatsoever. And I feel weak.

So one day I tried to put a pair of leathers on back-to-back to see if it was that. I still had the first issue. I was just picking up so much speed on hardpack it was hard for me to control and I'd go right to lead ski pressure and stand myself up. I could flex better with the leather and cables, but still it was hard to feel what the ski was doing. I'm so used to not having any heel resistance like that, it was very odd and I never got used to it.

I think the issue is really the feeling of edging with the outside of a ski, and the ski being back. My alpine technique doesn't use a ton of inside ski pressure and surely not with the ski in that positions. My XCD skiing I'd never need that kind of pressure to hold the rear ski like on that real hard snow. I'd hit icy patches before and just spun out, but I never went back and tried to ski it. Anyway I definitely put a lot of weight on the rear let for XCD, but never cutting the edge in hard like on piste.
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Re: X-training help for heavy Tele

Postby RobRox » Thu Jun 29, 2017 3:56 pm

So many technique tips might apply so I'll just avoid those. Cross training? All core development plans should be considered; pick a few and do them a lot.

My Favorite is lele-jump-ups in the pool. Start in chest deep water, assume the position and jump. Scissor your legs to switch, touch down, flexing the knees, and jump again...repeat. If you can work your way to 500 before the season starts you will get less tired by quite a surprising margin than with other squats. I do these in the pool to save my knees compared to dry-land plyo and to strengthen my scissor action. Start easy, 100 is a lot for a first go.

As you get accustomed to it, water shoes come in handy for accentuating the pinky-push from the back foot, Also, hands low and still torso. Once I get my rythmn going I add the "look downhill" by looking to the right when my left foot is back and visa versa.

Good luck
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Re: X-training help for heavy Tele

Postby lowangle al » Thu Jun 29, 2017 5:58 pm

Robrox is right, there are tips and drills but it's too soon to talk about that anyway. I always thought mountain biking was good cross training for telemark, and if you can get yourself up to 500 of those in the water jump turns you'll be doing pretty good. If you don't have a pool you can go "back country" in lake Ontario. :)

I think you just need more time at it. It takes a lot of vert to get good, and you can get as much vert in a couple days at the resort than you may have been getting in an entire season of touring. I would think most of us old timers who started in the 80s spent a lot of time riding the lift.
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Re: X-training help for heavy Tele

Postby stoneman » Fri Jun 30, 2017 9:15 am

I really wouldn’t worry about any sort of cross training exercise regime for Tele… especially since you mountain bike a lot. The issues you are describing I think are fairly typical for someone learning tele on piste – especially if it’s firm, and are more related to technique than to a lack of strength/conditioning. This may sound totally counter intuitive, but I only started getting enough weigh on the back leg by skiing crappy icy conditions. My turns would be total skidfests until I got what I thought was 90% of my weight on that back leg… enough to get the edge to really bite. You get enough weight on the back foot, the boot will flex just fine. And even though it seems like all your weight is back there, in reality it’s much less… of course getting too much weigh on that back foot causes a whole other set of problems…. but one thing a time.

Also: Rob, you got a pool?
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Re: X-training help for heavy Tele

Postby RobRox » Fri Jun 30, 2017 10:09 am

stoneman wrote:...
Also: Rob, you got a pool?
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Re: X-training help for heavy Tele

Postby Bern » Fri Jun 30, 2017 11:01 am

Some more time skiing the boots will no doubt help but sometimes it is the equipment. My own boots at first, three buckle, were difficult to bend and keep the heels low at the same time. As a compulsive mechanic, I love nothing better than modifying equipment so that it works as I think it should. I even have a sewing machine and alter clothing till it fits as it should. On the boots,, I noticed that high ridges on the tongue were bumping up against the buckle arrangement preventing any bending beyond that point. I just carved away the parts that prevented the bending. After that they bent as desired.

In any case, getting the heel down prevents the back foot from being on tippy toe which feels unstable and at that point it is difficult or impossible to get weight on the back foot. As said above, lean heavily into the cuff of the rear boot. This is why the cuffs are so high. It you try this at home, you will find he cuff will support almost your entire weight.
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Re: X-training help for heavy Tele

Postby Dirk » Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:46 pm

Are you really looking for help, or is this just a back-handed way of saying how awesome XCD skiing is?

It takes exactly zero amount more strength to tele in plastic boots. In fact, it takes less strength. You just need to figure out your weight distribution.
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Re: X-training help for heavy Tele

Postby Telemanarcer » Sun Jul 02, 2017 5:45 am

Now you tell me....Thanks a lot Dirk!!!! TM
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Re: X-training help for heavy Tele

Postby Biff » Mon Jul 03, 2017 8:14 am

I agree with Dirk. With today's tele gear, if you have the proper stance and know how to telemark the skis pretty much turn themselves. As someone that started years ago on "light gear" I can promise you it's much easier to tele on what you call "heavy gear" than light gear and leather boots. If that were not the case then I, with my arthritic knees would be back on my leather gear. As far as excercises... I can sit around all summer drinking , smoking cigars and getting fat and I'll telemark just fine come winter. The problem is when I have to ski hard and follow someone like Dirk. That's when I start wishing I had dusted off the bike and had a few less beers.
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Re: X-training help for heavy Tele

Postby lowangle al » Mon Jul 03, 2017 12:06 pm

I agree that it is easier to ski "heavy" gear than more XCD oriented stuff with light boots. What is harder with heavy gear(at least initially) is finding your center and feeling your edges. When you get these figured out you got it licked.
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Re: X-training help for heavy Tele

Postby MikeK » Mon Jul 03, 2017 12:40 pm

I actually love mountain biking, maybe even more than skiing, so no issue keeping that going.

I'm not saying XCD is easier by any means, I'm sure it's not and on hardpack it was incredibly difficult to keep my balance and edge, but it was easy to flex my boots. Put it this way, it's not something I want to pursue regularly unless perhaps the conditions are nice. This is why I bought plastic boots...

What I'm saying is, I haven't skied on hard snow except the occasional icy patch or rut for going on 5 years. It took a lot of energy (I thought) to parallel my skis and keep the edges on. When I went to telemark my back leg was literally getting shaky. I've never had that dinking around on small hills in fresh snow.

Perhaps that will all go away, but I thought perhaps there was some conditioning I could do to help me when the snow hits the ground... errr... or rather when the snow makers fire up...

I also wasn't using modern skis that turn themselves - I was on some Tua Heliums, which were easy enough to skid around in parallel turns but would have taken some extra skill to really get some carving. I didn't try, I spent most of my time just trying to feel my back ski, which as I said, didn't go so well...
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Re: X-training help for heavy Tele

Postby Yoyo » Mon Jul 03, 2017 10:05 pm

Hey Mike-

Great to hear you got some turns and time in on the new gear last winter!

Were you able to get the new boots to fit well?

I haven't found anything that quite works the same muscles in the same way as Telemarking. So other than good general leg fitness, I have nothing special to offer there.

I will make a couple of observations about the particular fitness needed for freeheel skiing though: Thigh muscles are simple… You need all the strength there you can get, and you'll never have enough. Nearly any exercise that strengthens those muscles will help.

Calves are another matter- what is needed there is a type of dexterity we just don't use much anywhere else. This is what controls your edging on the rear foot, when all the way down. It doesn't take ridiculous strength, so much as ball of foot control. Maybe some balancing type of activity would help, with some outside force having to be countered in real time would build that skill and strength?

Icy conditions: This is when you find out if your technique is dialed, or if you are just 'close' enough that hero snow will make you look good. Treat it as a learning opportunity. I hear you Easterners get more of this type of skiing than you could want; capitalize on it.

If your mountaineering skis are going to show their weakness, ice is likely to be when it happens. Consider sturdier skis if they just deflect and chatter on icy snow.

Bending the boots in the right place: It is imperative for control to maintain half of your weight on the rear foot, as others have said. If your boots are flexing at the duckbill rather than the bellows as you squat, you aren't maintaining enough weight on the rear ski at that time. The hard part is figuring out how to maintain that pressure during the transition- when you aren't quite paralleling, nor quite squatting. Adding to that, you have to commit with full confidence- and full vulnerability, to get through that transition.

Tucking the rear foot back there while standing on the front, then getting your weight centered just won't work with plastic boots. Soft boots may allow this type of sloppy technique to hide, but it will hold you back whether your gear hides it from you or not.

During the transition, you have to consistently engage both edges, the whole time, as the method of controlling the rear ski gradually changes from controlling by tilting the cuff, to controlling by pointing the cuff, to controlling with the ball of the foot. Then back again at the end of the turn. This is different than skiing on soft boots because the cuffs never offer control in soft boots, and because the ball of foot is not overpowered by the cuff when upright.

The early part of the turns seems to be a parallel turn. It is- but it won't work for this purpose unless you do the unnatural, and apply half your weight to each ski. In doing that, the inside ski will need to be canted to engage its outer edge- which we don't do when paralleling, or at least not during the initial part of the turn. If you haven't taught yourself to do that, it is necessary. You do it by bending your knee and hip the direction you want to turn, which feels awkward as hell until you habitualize it. I think more experienced telemarkers 'forget' this part of the learning process since they don't really seem talk about it… With soft boots this part of edging control is taken care of with ball of foot pressure; since plastic boots have a laterally rigid cuff, input at the ball of foot at this part of the turn is nullified.

In mid transition that same angulating is now done by pointing the kneecap toward the center of the turn you are making. It feels awkward, but how else are you going to engage that outside edge? Make yourself do it.

The rest of the turn is easier. The rear ski is now edged with ball of foot pressure, like with soft boots. It has to be, the cuff is now pointed roughly parallel to the ski!

I suggest "Allan & Mike's Really Cool Telemark Tips". I found a copy at the library after year 3 and still found it useful. The book doesn't try to describe when to apply which tip, nor the mechanism it will use to improve your skiing except for troubleshooting chart. It is still quite useful.

Since you now have boots with a cuff canting mechanism, it is possible to use it as a crutch- at least until you gain confidence in your edging. I did, and I think it helped me gain the confidence to work without it later. I set the cams to engage the outside edge of the rear ski, and liked it. Try it. Maybe it will work for you, maybe not.
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Re: X-training help for heavy Tele

Postby MikeK » Tue Jul 04, 2017 7:06 am

Interesting comments Yoyo. Thanks for the insight.

Yes, new T2 Ecos fit well enough. I should get some different footbeds and mold them and think they'd be really good. Just never got around to it.

I have some stiffer, more shaped skis that should shine on the hardpack. Also with more stout bindings. Didn't get a chance to try them last year though.

Sounds like you are suggesting something I was thinking of anyway, and correct me if I'm wrong, but working on my parallel technique with more pressure on my inside edge. My last foray at parallel skiing was a lot about this, and I struggled to do it many conditions, mainly due to old bad habits, but it definitely helped with getting bigger edge angles and keeping the inside ski under control, thus making better carve turns.

I was going to try to work on this first with a more modern ski and see if it helped the transition.

I thought at first the soft skis would be easier to bend and thus easier to Tele. Probably so in softer snow, but given our 90% appalling conditions, it's likely to be hard, real hard.

The Tuas are a nice ski though. They remind me of what I started skiing on back in the early 90s. Surely not something to go fast and carve with, but easy enough to handle. I'll likely put my wife on these for family outings and mess around with them for some XCD in the future.
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