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Working on the basics

Have questions about telemark technique? We have invited seven professional telemark instructors to help out with any questions you may have. If you are a never-ever wondering how to start or an expert tele skier wondering how to polish up that mogul run, here is the place to look.

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Working on the basics

Postby Williamtele » Mon Dec 02, 2013 10:18 am

We started our alpine training clinics this past weekend and it's nice that they're letting a couple of us attend in tele gear. I'm more and more convinced that a huge portion of alpine skiing skills, movements, and tactics carry over directly to telemark. This weekend the trainers reverted to the building blocks, focusing on balance and rotation, two of the four basic components of skiing.
On Saturday, we worked on balance looking at the concept of CM or center of mass. It's a complicated fusion of weight, speed, gravity, and various other physical forces. Your CM can be, and often is, outside of your body. The drills involved short runs of various turn shapes and speed, thinking about what happens to the major ski joints (ankles, knees, hips and spine) in different situations. Are they all flexed evenly all the time or do certain joints tend to dominate as circumstances change? It helps to watch other skiers (alpine or tele) and try to figure out why they're in a certain position e.g. in the back seat or constantly fighting to maintain balance. Watch young racers and compare their various joints to those of recreational skiers.
Yesterday it was about rotation, specifically isolating our legs from the rest of our bodies. Stand with one ski on your ski pole (under your boot) and rotate it. Where does the rotation come from? Now put your other pole tip in the snow and try to rotate your ski against it. What muscles do you feel? Hopefully you're thinking thigh/hip socket and thigh muscles. Try some runs with very "skiddy" turns, with all the steering coming from thigh rotation. That will mean a very quiet upper body (shoulders facing down the fall line) AND open hips. What's an open hip, you ask? It's a hip that doesn't rotate during lead change. Pivot slips are another great drill - slide slip down the fall line in an alpine position and then rotate your boots 180 degrees without changing your direction of travel. If your skis aren't turning for you, maybe go back and look at your balance (it's all interconnected).

Working on core competencies is a good strategy to prepare for the season. If your goal for the year is to be able to shred moguls, ski steeps, or hit the glades, you might want to spend some time honing your basic skills.
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Re: Working on the basics

Postby Rene-Martin Trudel » Wed Dec 04, 2013 1:27 pm

I agree with a lot of what you said Will (again)

First Alpine is skiing and Telemark is skiing. I like to say that I'm a skier. Technique used is my choice.

For great basic exercises for your first on hill runs, I like to go without ski pole. Focus on your balance and your upper body stability. This will make you ski very effectively, with a quiet upper body. And as Will mentionned, I like to vary from easy going turns with lots of slipping to make everything just cool and fluid. Progressively, I will add some edge control, short turns and some carving.
Built your confidence first, especially in the East, where our first days on snow can be on artificial ice... snow, I mean :)

"Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right" Henry Ford
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Rene-Martin Trudel
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Re: Working on the basics

Postby mptelemark » Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:30 pm

A common thread in this forum is learning good alpine technique on tele skis helps tele turns. See my posts in other sections. I know this may be against many tele skiers who feel doing alpine is somehow compromising on their tele spirit. For me who came from a nordic backround and has taken many lessons to learn the tele turn , I wish there was more alpine technique teaching in tele lessons concentrating on the inside ski and being comfortable with this. It was not until I learned proper alpine technique that I was able to use that inside ski effectively . Regarding the basics, this inside ski comfort sure helps to delay that early lead change so many intermediates have problems with. I can speak to myself who just did not get the inside leg working well at the start of the turn until I learned to alpine .
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