I’ve noticed many children beginning
their skiing careers being taught by
parents who are on telemark gear. As their
children become more able to manage
the mountain, the parents might want to
continue telemarking. What about o;ering
a ski lesson in which the parents learn how
to telemark while the children are taught
to alpine ski? I like to think that kind of
approach could o;er a new twist on the
Also, more and more of the people I
ski with have taken on a personal trainer
or have a training regimen. Although the
physical demands of alpine skiing are not
to be discounted, telemark skiing might
appeal to those interested in the workout
it can o;er. Telemark equipment does
not support a skier quite as well as alpine
equipment, and with the heels free, a
certain level of physical exertion is necessary
to achieve even the lower levels of success.
How about “Telemark; It’s better than
a ‘Buns of Steel’ workout!” as a physical
A Healthy Free-heel Market
;is is not to say, however, that telemark
skiing is only suitable for those who are
physically oriented, strong, and in good
condition. While this pure and elegant
turn technique can be a workout, it also
represents an ease of movement not often
felt in alpine skiing. With more of one’s
joints in motion – and in a greater range
of motion more of the time – telemark can
be an alternative that’s softer on the joints
than alpine skiing or snowboarding.
With the options presented, it would
be easy to ignore what most of us consider
to be the standard telemarker, i.e., the
person who never takes any lessons and
always brown bags their PB & J. Don’t be
so sure! I’m amazed at how many of these
so-called rebels are aerospace engineers,
attorneys, and doctors. Although they
may not spend their money on a lesson
every time they come to the mountain,
they could be in the market for one.
I have certainly heard the arguments
against tele: “Telemark skiers don’t spend
money;” “Telemarking is dead;” “AT
is taking over, and nobody wants to
telemark.” Personally, I’m not buying it.
;at’s because I believe there are a lot of
free-heel skiers out there, and some of
them haven’t even put on telemark skis yet.
We can ignore them if we like, or we
could look for ways to bring them along
and share more of the mountain experience.
If we embrace telemarking, it’s our guests
who will be the ultimate winners.
Jim Shaw is the telemark specialist on the
PSIA Nordic Team. He teaches telemark
and alpine ski lessons at Colorado’s Winter
Park Resort and is a telemark and alpine
examiner for Rocky Mountain Division.
• Advertise that you offer telemark lessons
– most areas don’t.
• Offer tele deals early in the season
when snow depth might not be ideal for
alpine skiers and riders, but is plenty for
the free-heel set. A telemark angle can
make the mountain bigger.
• Have telemark equipment available for
rent, along with your regular offering of
alpine and snowboard equipment.
• Pair children’s ski and snowboard
lessons with a telemark lessons for
their parents, so family members can
all enjoy the success of learning new
skills and sports.
• Offer telemark lessons to your most
experienced alpine customers, letting
them know telemark skiing can identify
new skills – and a new perspective –
that applies to their favorite on-
• Hold a special telemark event. Nothing
brings out the free-heelers in your region
like a special date on the calendar with
an opportunity to learn new skills and
make new friends.
— Jim Shaw
SELLING FREE-HEEL FUN: HOW TO TAKE THE LEAD
Here are just a few tips to help sell telemark lessons at your ski area. Some of them may
seem fairly obvious to free-heel instructors, but I am often surprised by how rarely areas are
making any attempt to sell these kinds of lessons.
Get ready, get
Stay warm on your next adventure!
1-800-432-8629 – grabberworld.com