Backcountry skiing: Where to try Telemark skiing this season

(Alexander Rochau/

(Alexander Rochau/


, Last Updated: 11:30 AM ET

The growing popularity of backcountry skiing has made the case for being able to lift your heels, making Telemark style a helpful skill since unfamiliar terrain could get steep at any time. Otherwise known as freeheel, downhill skiing, it's done on special bindings that resemble those found on Nordic skis, making it easier to get to the chairlift at the end of the run.

Even if you're not on a quest for backcountry powder, showing off split feet techniques is a great way to entertain the crowd on the lift at resorts.

If you've seen the signature turn in which the Telemark skier genuflexes and you think it looks pretty difficult, founder and director of the North American Telemark Organization Dickie Hall says there's no such thing as a beginner telemarker, provided one knows how to ski another style already.

Read more: Telemark ski bindings take strides with the Meidjo

"Plenty of lifelong, strong alpine skiers come to our workshops," says Hall. "And in two days they're often able to ski at their alpine level because we're teaching them what they already know."

Hall says the workshops offered by the North American Telemark Association welcome beginners and they divide advanced skiers according to their specialty, be it alpine, snowboarding or cross country.

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Additionally, the Mount Abram Ski Area in Bethel, Maine will play host to the Maine Telemark Festival on February 7, offering demos, clinics, lessons, giveaways and live music all day.

It's one of many such festivals around the world, which also include the annual Telemarkfest in Kleinwalsertal, Germany, scheduled for March 18 to the 22, with the International German Championship on Saturday, March 21.

Telemark skiing is popular in Europe, where Telemark Tracks offers English-speaking instruction in the French Alps.

From January 10 to 11, the Sportler Careeza Telemark Festival will be held in the Italian Dolomite region, offering workshops, guided tours and a chance to test what you've learned in a low-key competition. For the best in Telemark footage, the package also includes the Freeheel Movie Night.