Want to try something new? How about Telemark

From starting her career in alpine, Jasmin Taylor is now one of the leading telemark racers not just in the UK but in the World. Jaz has tried many forms of racing on snow as she explained at the end of this article. For some the journey to finding 'your' discipline can be long but when you do, the results can be inspiring. Jaz explains here what Telemark is all about, the equipment needed, how competition happens (it is slightly different to alpine) and how to get involved. At the end, Jaz explains her fascinating story.


What’s the difference between Telemark and Alpine, Telemark has a free-heel and that is pretty much it but that said - it changes everything! The technique involved is more of a lunge, than a squat position where the inside foot is placed behind you rather than in front like in Alpine. This back foot acts as a stabiliser and body weight is more equally distributed across both feet. The idea is to move fluidly from one turn to the next, once you’ve been Telemark skiing a while, Alpine starts to feel very constricted and at times, a bit uncomfortable. Telemark can dramatically improve your general skiing and when you put Alpine skis back on, you might feel like there is nothing much to do (until you’re back in gates of course). When it comes to Telemark technique, you will know when you have mastered it, it feels amazing and it flows. When learning, aim to get your back-leg thigh vertical with your body, 1-foot length’s gap between the front heel and back toe at all times, unless you are switching legs between turns…


There are several misconceptions with equipment, all you need for Telemark is specific boots and bindings, these two components have to be compatible and after that it is very easy! You can mount a Telemark set up on whatever your preferred ski is, be it Alpine, Moguls, Freestyle so if you’re learning, just grab a pair of rock-hoppers out of the garage. As for Telemark boots, just get your size and pay attention to whether they are NTN (New Telemark Norm), duck-toe, 3-pin or whatever they happen to be! It is probably easier to buy bindings first - NTN seems to be the way to go when getting your own set-up. The main companies are; The M Equipment, Rottefella and 22 Design. In hire shops, most of the time cable bindings are available and in my opinion these are the best way to begin as they are freer and really demand you to master the proper telemark technique.


There are 3 different events within Telemark; the Sprint (2 time trial runs, 1 minute duration), the Dual Sprint (qualifying, followed by head-to-head knock outs, 40 second duration) and the Classic (1 time trial run, 2-3 minute duration), all of which include a giant slalom section, a jump with a clearance line, a 360 banked turn and cross-country skate section. That means in competition we use cross-country poles, and yes it is bonkers.

There is a penalty of 1 second given to each turn completed incorrectly, this includes a static Telemark transition, a small Telemark stance, a turn with an alpine stance, stumbling, crashing…

There is a penalty of 1 second given for incorrectly landing the jump, and a further 3 second for not clearing the distance line! This means that the fastest skier doesn’t necessarily win, you must be fast and clean which makes the sport tactical and technical. There can be larger time gaps between competitors as a result because the scoring system is based on time and judging.

Get Involved

There are Telemark festivals throughout summer (normally) and many French resorts supply rental equipment and instruction. The British and Army Championships is also a great place to learn, race, meet new people and new a lot of fun where people arrive as complete beginners and by the end of the week, they are Telemark skiing very well. If you have any further questions, you can contact me via my website or social media.


Jaz's Story

When I was 10 years old, I was given a school project on mountains. My parents noticed my fascination - we went on a family holiday to Whistler, Canada but having never skied before my dad took me to the local dry ski slope in Ipswich, Suffolk to have some lessons. It was here that I fell in love with the sport, and started living for Saturday mornings when I could ski again. Even then I knew I wanted to ski full time and be the best, it is crazy to think of that now.

A few years later, I spent some time out on snow with the British Ski Academy (BSA) in Les Houches and I started to wonder about other skiing disciplines. We would try Big Air, Ski Jumping, Cross-Country and I even spent a season competing briefly in Ski Cross as a result. It was a further few years down the line that I tried Telemark, and when I did something clicked for me - I really enjoyed how technical it was and I liked figuring it all out, actually I still do.

Those taster sessions with BSA were hosted by Frenchman, Sebastien ‘Seb’ Mansart - at the time he was the French National Coach (not that any of us realised). A year later, I was in Les Houches and I looked him up - during that time I bought some equipment online and practiced at The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead. I told Seb I wanted to be the best in the world, and I have pretty much been trying to honour that statement ever since. I know Telemark is not as well known or competitive as the likes of Alpine although it has been challenging in its own way. Thus far I have managed 32 World Cup podiums, 2 World Championship medals and several more World Cup medals (which they hand out for overall World Cup season podium place finishes). That said, the greatest sense of achievement I have felt comes from overcoming myself on some level, difficult to put into words but my aim is to continue pushing my limits and to really find out what I can do. I hope to one day be the very best and to promote the sport in a positive light on the British and international level.

Photo from Jasmin Taylor's Facebook page - Photo by Guillaume BORGA Photographie

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