Telemark skiing is a dynamic blend of downhill, cross-country, and touring techniques, offering skiers the flexibility to enjoy various styles without the need for changing equipment. The latest trends in telemark equipment design increasingly focus on versatility, gradually diminishing the boundaries between different skiing disciplines.

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Today’s telemark skis showcase remarkable diversity, ranging from specialized downhill models to versatile backcountry options. The choice of skis largely hinges on two key factors: the intended use, which dictates the type of terrain they are designed for, and the skier’s proficiency level. When selecting skis, considerations like stiffness, length, weight, sidecut, and the type of rocker are crucial. The telemark skiing community currently leans towards freeride skis, with freestyle skis also gaining popularity. These come in various dimensions, such as men’s models measuring (Tip/Waist/Tail) like 143/138/140 or 140/138/139, featuring large rockers and indeterminate turning radii. Women’s skis might measure (Tip/Waist/Tail) like 141/112/128 or 122/85/109, with radii of 15-19 m and available in different lengths, allowing for exceptional performance even on deep snow. 

In areas with typical snow and terrain conditions, most skiers opt for skis suited for groomed slopes. These skis are designed to excel in these environments, providing better performance and comfort, especially on hard or icy surfaces.

Sondre Nordheim: Pioneer of Carving Skis

When Sondre Nordheim began his journey into skiing, the equipment of the era was markedly different from today’s. Skis were notably long and lacked agility, posing challenges in maneuverability and control. Nordheim, an innovator by nature, embarked on a series of experiments that revolutionized ski construction. 


He significantly shortened the length of the skis to about 2 meters and 40 centimeters. This adjustment was a significant departure from the norm. Nordheim also made alterations to the shape of the skis, effectively introducing the concept of sidecut. This sidecut gave the skis a distinctive turning radius, a feature fundamental to what we now refer to as carving skis. Carving skis are designed to make turns more efficient and controlled by allowing the ski’s edge to engage more effectively with the snow. Nordheim’s innovation marked a pivotal moment in ski design, laying the groundwork for the modern, agile skis central to contemporary skiing, including telemark.

Backcountry Telemark Skis

Backcountry telemark skiing offers an exhilarating mix of exploration and technical skill. Telemark skis for backcountry use are designed to handle diverse terrain, from deep powder to challenging steeps. These skis typically feature a wider profile than cross-country skis for better flotation in powder and robust construction to withstand the rigors of off-piste conditions. 


Modern backcountry telemark skis often integrate lightweight materials to ease uphill travel while maintaining enough stiffness and camber for reliable downhill performance. This blend of features caters perfectly to the adventurous spirit of backcountry telemark enthusiasts, who seek both the serenity of untracked landscapes and the thrill of carving elegant freeheel turns.

Sports Skis for Telemark

Telemark racing and high-performance skiing demand sports skis that combine precision, speed, and agility. These skis are narrower and stiffer compared to their slope counterparts, tailored for quick, sharp turns and enhanced control at higher speeds. The construction of sports telemark skis often involves advanced materials such as carbon fiber or titanium to provide the necessary rigidity and responsiveness. 


This design enables telemark racers and advanced skiers to execute dynamic maneuvers with precision, making these skis an ideal choice for competitive events or those seeking an adrenaline-fueled experience on groomed slopes. Today’s telemark racing skis often share similar characteristics with their alpine counterparts, focusing on providing a balance of speed, agility, and control, crucial for navigating the demanding courses typical in giant slalom races.

Freeride Telemark Skis

Freeride telemark skiing is all about versatility and the joy of carving turns in varied snow conditions. Freeride telemark skis are designed to perform equally well on groomed runs and in soft snow. They usually feature a medium-width profile, providing a balance between flotation in powder and agility on hardpack. These skis often have a rockered tip and tail to enhance maneuverability and ease turn initiation, making them a popular choice among freeheel skiers who enjoy both on-piste and off-piste skiing. Freeride telemark skis cater to those who appreciate the freedom to explore the entire mountain, making every run an exciting blend of challenge and fun.

Big Powder Telemark Skis for Deep Snow: A Blend of Flotation and Flexibility

For telemark enthusiasts venturing into deep powder, big powder telemark skis are the ideal choice. These skis are specially designed to handle the challenges and exhilaration of skiing in deep, fresh snow. Their defining features include wider waists, rockered profiles, and a softer flex, all of which work together to provide a unique blend of flotation, maneuverability, and the classic free-heel flexibility that telemark skiing is known for. 


Big powder skis typically have significantly wider underfoot dimensions, often exceeding 100mm. This extra width provides a larger surface area, crucial for staying atop deep snow. The increased width allows skiers to float effortlessly over powder, rather than sinking into it, making for an exhilarating and less exhausting experience. 


Rocker technology, also known as reverse camber, is a staple in big powder ski design. The upward curve at the tip (and often the tail) of the ski ensures that it rides over the snow rather than plowing through it. This design aids in initiating turns with less effort and provides better maneuverability in deep snow conditions. Some powder telemark skis also have swallow tails, which reduce swing weight and improve agility in deep snow. Some models may include a hybrid profile with both camber and rocker, offering a mix of flotation in powder and grip on harder snow.

Universal Skis for Telemark

Universal telemark skis are the quintessential choice for skiers who seek a one- ski-quiver. These skis are designed to handle a wide range of conditions and terrain, making them a great option for skiers who enjoy versatility in their skiing adventures. They typically feature a moderate width, a balanced flex pattern, and a versatile shape that provides stability and control in various snow types. Whether carving on groomers, navigating through trees, or floating in powder, universal telemark skis offer a dependable and enjoyable experience for both seasoned skiers and those new to the freeheel life.

Brands That Make Skis Purely for Telemark

The telemark skiing community is supported by dedicated brands that specialize in equipment specifically for this unique style of skiing. These manufacturers focus on designing telemark skis that optimize the freeheel experience, whether for backcountry or all-mountain skiing. Notable brands in this niche include Voilé, G3, Åsnes, Black Diamond, and Scotty Bob and etc…

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