The FreeHeel Movement

Old Freeheel skier

The FreeHeel Movement: A rebirth to the ancestor of modern skiing. Telemark comes on the rise in an age of new ski development. Centuries of cable bindings and leather boots now meet the stage on the forefront of modern technology.

Telemark, having pioneered skiing as a downhill winter sport had lost touch with the ski industry for over a century. After Sondre Norheim – the “Father of Telemark Skiing” – had invited the first side-cut design, much adaptation was given to downhill as a sport and over the coming years a locked-in safety binding took over the scene.

So where did Telemark go?

Telemark skiing was reborn in 1971 in the United States with the help of Norwegian gold medalist Stein Eriksen. Shortly after winning gold at the 1952 Olympics in Oslo, Eriksen moved to the US to begin his instructing career which led to Director status of many top American ski resorts.

Oldstyle Skier

Popularity grew in the 70’s and 80’s. Appeal to the method came with the ease of access to fresh terrain. Skins could be easily attached to the bottom of the skis and skiers could traverse and tour farther out from the crowded resorts to find their first tracks. Weighing generally less than an Alpine setup, the ability to both climb up and ski down all on one piece of equipment created a boom market for the Telemark scene.

Modern Freeheel Skier
Modern Freeheel Skier

Modern Telemark equipment

That brings us to Y2K and the 21st Century. Why, and how, would you ever clip your toe into a Tele ski?

Due to the hassle of having to always latch the spring-loaded cable around your heel as well as the insecurity of no release mechanism or the stress of leashing the ski to your leg in the instant it does pop off, the common man drove away from ever trying the sport.

Rotefella, a major Telemark binding manufacturer broke the mold with their cableless New Telemark Norm (NTN) design in 2007. NTN provides the skier with easy step-in/step-out access and a safety-release to prevent injuries. Additionally, you can now fasten traditional ski brakes. Those will automatically release when a ski does eject, freeing up just another aspect of this FreeHeel movement. You can attach them to just about any shape and size ski.

Although you should keep in mind there is an asterisk next to super fat powder skis. Since the scissor-like motion occurs just under a person’s standing position, the skier can run the chance of friction-knocking the tips and tails.

freeheel bindings
freeheel bindings

All-in-all, a rebirth is on the rise. Sparks have stricken and the fire will catch; in the coming years Telemark will make a stance – a tele stance. Visit again for mor info on the Telemark turn and the mechanics to Free Heel skiing. Including additional pictures and videos.

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