Learning to Telemark…

Living in Aviemore, it seems that every man and his dog have a pair of skis. On rare days when both snow and low winds arrive in tandem, if you’re not there then you are very square indeed, with the ski hill selling out tickets fast, and smug tourers skinning up the edges of the ski area to explore the wider Cairngorm plateau.

Blue sky face!
Blue sky face!

What with not actually working all that much, and spending far too much money on bikes, even a second hand ski-touring set up has always been a little out of reach, so I’ve always looked on enviously at the people who can go and travel freely when the hills have their white coat on. What luck then, when not one but two telemark touring setups appeared for sale at a price that we could hardly refuse! Once we’d sat down and cleared up exactly what telemarking actually involves, we realised we’d have a new challenge on our hands. However, it seemed like a good idea, and no-one had warned us how much all that lunging would hurt, so we walked away happily with out skis, bindings and skins and resolved to work out how you go about the while thing in our usual trial and error way.

Even snowboarders thought we were funny-looking.
Even snowboarders thought we were funny-looking.
Starting to get the hang of those funky turns.
Starting to get the hang of those funky turns.

Telemarking is basically just the practice of having an angry conversation with your own thighs.

A wise man said that, and it turned out to be true. Tnankfully, we were finding that under a January sun in the Alps, rather than the gales and hill fog of the Cairngorms this winter. Many hours of lunging, leaning and occasionally tangling meant a good night’s sleep every night, and plenty of funny looks from everyone else in Les Deux Alpes as they skied gracefully past us.

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At first, I wasn’t sure I saw the point of telemarking. I could still parallel turn acceptably, which to me seemed faster, easier and more stable. Annie saw the appeal of something a little different from the norm with its own community of enthusiasts.

Although forcing myself to sink downwards with every turn took some effort by the afternoons, by the end of the week we had each made some progress. I was reluctant to admit it, but there’s an appeal to that crazy lunge and the graceful (well, supposedly) ‘walk’ when single turns started to become a series.

Lesson of the week? Try something new! Half the fun is simply overcoming a challenge and having a new skill. The views helped, too.

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