Telemarks are a type of ski, which was developed in the Telemark region. These skis are built similar to cross-country skis but are used in downhill skiing. Unlike conventional 'nordic' skis, these skis do not fasten your whole foot to the ski. So as you go down the hill you can go 'tiptoe' while you turn. Although this was how the first skis were, they were neglected for the nordic style and are only now regaining some popularity. It's tricky to learn, but offers advantages in areas such as backcountry terrain that other skis don't offer.

Telemark skiing is a downhill skiing technique appropriate for use with free-heel skis, like the ones used in nordic skiing, but usually sturdier. Telemark skiing is named for, and was developed in, the town of Telemark, Norway, when its citizens were competing against the nearby town of Christiana in ski jumping competitions. Christiana developed the Stem Christiana turn, now known as the Stem Christie, which evolved into the alpine technique used in modern downhill skiing. Telemark developed the Telemark turn, in which fore-and-aft stability is achieved by putting one foot in front of the other, bending the knees, and raising the rear heel. By contrast, alpine technique gives fore-and-aft stability by affixing the heel securely to the ski so you can cantilever the ski by pressing on the boot with your shin.

The Telemark technique is especially appropriate to winter travel and ski mountaineering, because it can be used on nordic skis (although the trade-off between speed on the flat and downhill turning control is affected by the heaviness and stiffness of your gear). Telemarking is also practiced at ski resorts. It's harder on the thighs than alpine skiing, but can be much easier on the knees.

If you're interested in the Telemark technique, check out "Free-heel Skiing", by Paul Parker, ISBN 0898864127. I have no affiliation with the author, publisher, etc. This is simply the best book I've found.

See also telemark skiing.

A ski resort in Northern Wisconsin near the Chequamegon National Forest. The resort was the brain child of Tony Wise of Hayward, Wisconsin shortly after then end of World War II. Tony felt that the blossoming sport of snow skiing was a viable industry for Wisconsin. In a few short years Telemark Resort became the midwest's greatest ski area, not known for its huge vertical drop but rather its total party atmosphere. In the 60's it was the center of skiing culture and technology. At one time Telemark operated the largest snow-making system in the world. Virtually covering 100% of the ski area with man-made snow.

In the 1970s, Tony expanded the resort after a fire destroyed the original lodge. He had a world class structure built that boasted 300 rooms, indoor tennis courts, three bars, restaurants, nightclub and the tallest field stone fireplace constructed in North America.

Also in the 70s, Tony expanded the ski area to include 70 kilometers of cross country ski trails. Famed U.S. Olympic cross county skier Bill Koch was enlisted to design the trails; one trail still retains his name to this day.

Wise was able to found the American Birkebiner Ski Marathon. The cross country ski race from Cable to Hayward, Wisconsin is the United States' stop on the World Loppet ski marathon tour. Over six thousand cross country skiers come from around the globe to participate each February in the event.

Telemark went through financial difficulties in the 80s and declared bankruptcy. The resort was re-opened and operated by a time share condo real estate company. By 1996 Telemark was again in financial straits and declared bankruptcy. The doors closed and the once great resort fell silent. In 1998 the condominium owners banded together and purchased the property. As of 2001 the lodge is once again open but the ski hill and many of the trails have fallen into disrepair. The hill that once hosted 2000 skiers a day now only has a handful of inner tubes gliding on its front hill.

Tony Wise passed away in the mid-90s, having never again regained ownership of the resort. His enthusiasm and skills helped to bring people to the forests of Northern Wisconsin not to cut down trees put to play and he deeply influenced the sport of cross country skiing in the U.S. for years to come.

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