Skiers Say Telemark, Get Set, Go

<i> Rick VanderKnyff is a free-lance writer who contributes regularly to The Times Orange County Edition. </i>

Anyone who watched the ski-jumping competition in the Winter Olympics heard the term telemark a lot, in reference to the landings: one ski gliding in front of the other, adding stability.

Telemarking, named after a region in southern Norway, is a technique long-used among cross-country skiers, particularly in deep snow and other challenging backcountry conditions.

“It works particularly well in conditions that are not ideal, the glop and slop that you sometimes get,” said Dave Horine of Orange-based Pacific Wilderness Institute.

The popularity of the telemark is now moving beyond cross-country to the ski resorts, where more and more skiers are trying telemarking techniques on downhill slopes. Although it is still rare to find anyone telemarking on local ski runs, Horine says he frequently sees the technique when he skis resorts in Utah and Colorado.


Pacific Wilderness Institute, which offers instruction in a variety of outdoor pursuits, will continue its current season of one-day introductory telemark courses Sunday. Other dates for “Telemark Skiing I” are March 12, 19 and 26. (Advanced classes are also offered).

In past years, classes have been a blend of cross-country and alpine enthusiasts, Horine said, and both are welcome. The cross-country skiers are looking to move to the next skill level; the alpine skiers are looking for a new challenge.

“The way telemarking is practiced today, it is truly a hybrid,” Horine added.

Topics covered in the one-day workshop include body position and balance, turn initiation, steering and other basics. Classes are held at Big Bear-area ski resorts, where the twin luxuries of groomed snow and lift service allow more time to hone technique.

Enrollees should have already mastered the gliding wedge (the “snowplow”) before taking the class. Class size is small, usually about four students.

“I do it more for fun than anything else,” Horine said. “It’s just an excuse to go skiing.”

What: Telemark skiing workshop.

When: Sunday, March 6, all day. Also, March 12, 19 and 26.


Where: Call for meeting information.

Wherewithal: $42, plus lift ticket ($30-$40).

Where to call: (714) 998-4596.