The reason for the tele turn?

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The reason for the tele turn?

Post by colbymck » Tue May 25, 2021 10:53 pm

Hello all - tele newb here from an alpine background. Got into xcD last year and have been having a blast climbing fire roads and descending mellow slopes at my local ski area when they’re closed. Trying to learn the tele turn on NNNBC. Not ideal I know, but I see videos from the 70’s of people absolutely shredding on leather 3 pins and long XC skis, so I know it’s possible! I’m reading a lot, but I am still unsure WHY we make turns drop knee.

I imagine that the tele turn was originally born out of NECESSITY. The gear people were using required this technique. But even my SB98’s with Alaska BC’s can make parallel turns, albeit not very aggressive ones. So it has led me to wonder what should be HAPPENING during the tele turn. I’m particularly interested in what function the trailing ski is providing. The forward ski’s purpose and function seems more intuitive.

Can someone explain (or point me to some literature) that explains the reason and the physics of why a drop knee turn is the best way to turn a freeheel ski?

See attached photo of my turns through some heavy spring snow last weekend. Zoom in to the upper part of the slope. I was pretty proud!

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Re: The reason for the tele turn?

Post by Nick BC » Tue May 25, 2021 11:50 pm

First piece of advice, buy/read Paul Parker's book on "Free Heel Skiing". It is a bible on technique, in an easy to read, comprehensible style.

Second piece of advice, if your heel is free "sink don't spread". Centre your weight between your feet and drop your torso and you will naturally "mostly" evenly weight both skis. Don't lunge or your back ski will wash out.

Another thing to think about is "step back the uphill ski". It sounds counter-intuitive, but it gets the weight on that uphill ski early in the turn.

I don't know if you've watched the recent video of the Norwegian guys skiing the new Rotte Xplore binding, but they are really weighting that rear ski a lot of the time. Perhaps this is because it is a "softer" set up than the heavy tele set-ups a lot of people use, where you can get away with being a bit sloppy.

Why tele? I started in 1980 because I wanted to back country tour and the AT alternatives were so heavy and clunky in those days. So I bought some Heirling leather boots, Kazama Mountain High skis and manfully tried to get a turn out of those f****rs. Then single cambered skis came along and it was like "night and day".

Having tried Alpine Touring and hating it, mainly because I'd had the freedom of the heel for so long it didn't feel comfortable and it was harshing my muscle memory. However, as you say you can do parallel turns on freeheel gear and as Paul Parker says in his book do the best turn for the conditions.

Now at my advanced age, I reserve my tele turns for the right conditions, the rest of the time I parallel turn. It's all, skiing :D

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Re: The reason for the tele turn?

Post by greatgt » Wed May 26, 2021 7:30 am

Junked my downhill stuff back in the early 70's.....Didn't like the repetitions and limits of Alpine areas....And the cost!!!! had access to some Asnes woodies and since speed was a thrill just had to have them as long as they came....(220's)....Never saw or heard of Telemark till @ 1980....Teleking....Telewheels and I went ballistic.....and the learning began....90% Bc and 10% for turns at ski areas....We learned and thrived on it.....Free the heel free the mind and ski anything at any time....There are NO rules in Telemark....everything has its moment.....catch air and sit on the back ski....Long elongated skinny skis create speed...riding a don't turn you arc....head them down and come around still heading down....Ski up a rounded ledge and without shifting fall off into speed and then arc around....Everything is in nothing is off limits....You are not on alpine skis and not at alpine areas...Telemark was made in our minds for skiing in the raw....Double camber is for cruising fast up and down....Wax pocket disengages on the down and is a shock absorber catching air...Someone says "this is the way"....".take the road less traveled"....If someone says this is the book of it and forget it....."it made all the difference"....Frost coulda shoulda and woulda been a great telewhacker....TM

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Re: The reason for the tele turn?

Post by lilcliffy » Wed May 26, 2021 7:53 am

+1 on Paul Parker's book "Freeheel Skiing"- pure excellence, free of any obsession around the telemark turn.

@colbymck Sweet turns in that photo! I love where I live, but it sure would be sweet to climb up into snow at this time of year!

As far as my backcountry Nordic touring- the telemark is one of a myriad of turning techniques that I use.

Why the telemark? Well- depending on the context (snow, terrain, equipment, etc.)- there are situations where it is just right!

The other reason- it just FEELS GREAT- and if I was primarily a downhill skier (i.e. had real moutains in my backyard and/or was skiing at a resort regularly) I would be on NTN so that I could enjoy the telemark turn ALL THE TIME.

If you haven't read it- read Parker's book. Like Paul- I see the telemark turn as only one of many turning techniques that a free-heel skier can use.

And my personal limited experience is that there are many situations on light Nordic touring equipment (e.g. SB98+Alaska) where the telemark turn is the WRONG choice.
Cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry.
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Re: The reason for the tele turn?

Post by joeatomictoad » Thu May 27, 2021 9:35 pm

colbymck wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 10:53 pm
Can someone explain (or point me to some literature) that explains the reason and the physics of why a drop knee turn is the best way to turn a freeheel ski?
Firstly, I am another advocate for Paul Parker's book "Freeheel Skiing." This comes from a series of Mountaineer Books, which means that it has some great technical information that can be applied to a multitude of disciplines. Many of the described techniques in this particular book are also insightful for alpine skills. I usually knock the dust off the cover around fall season to start getting me pumped up for the ski season.

Secondly... what is "best" is highly subjective. The dropped-knee genuflection position does promote fore-and-aft stability, but at the sacrifice of lateral stability. For low to moderate speeds, I feel that lateral stability is not such an issue. But with the forces generated with higher speed turns, controlling lateral stability becomes more of a challenge. I enjoy this challenge. It may be more, or less, efficient. It may, or may not, be the best. But it's a lot of fun, and that's always best for me!

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Re: The reason for the tele turn?

Post by greatgt » Sat May 29, 2021 8:35 am

Powder.....Tele turn=powder=tele arc....Nothing I have ever done athletically gives such a thrill....The Feeeeeling....We need some more snow!!!!! TM

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Re: The reason for the tele turn?

Post by phoenix » Sat May 29, 2021 5:29 pm

If I remember correctly, the telemark turn was originally developed by Sondre Norheim, a Norwegian ski jumper, as a more stable way the land form the BIG Air on LONG skis. With a very free heel. This was in the town of Telemark, hence the name. It caught on as a technique among recreational skiers in the Scandinavian countries; the alpine turn grew out of the
Alps, another adaptation to the steeper terrain. There was actually a duel, long ago, between an alpine zealot and a telemark devotee.

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Re: The reason for the tele turn?

Post by fgd135 » Sun May 30, 2021 12:45 pm

I echo what these other old guys say, read Paul's book.
More than that, with free heeled gear, a properly executed telemark turn can be much more stable than a parallel turn in many snow conditions, i.e., powder, junk, herky-jerky melt and frozen crud, etc.. It gets the body lower and centered and balanced, and with more compensation possible than standing in a Christy, or some kind of gorilla turn, especially when skiing with a big pack. Stein Erikson said, "gracefulness on skis should be the end-all of the sport". Telemark turns are that grace.

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Re: The reason for the tele turn?

Post by Spiny Norman » Sun May 30, 2021 2:55 pm

The tele turn was developed on soft consistent maritime snow on fairly open slopes.
It is a lot of fun but has no practical advantage over p turns. Even in floppy boots.

But don't take my word for it, just ask Dick Durrance ... MA9iSiexCM

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