» Telemark Technique Tips » How to Telemark Switch » February 2014.
What’s the point in learning to ride switch? Is it just so that you can show off to your friends? Make strangers stop and stare? Well yes, but also no. When we are skiing and telemarking we are always looking to improve and to do this we must challenge ourselves. We must test our skills outside our comfort zone and this will raise our awareness of what we are doing, both right and wrong. For example, you cannot ride switch unless you commit fully to that low telemark stance and in doing so that might just make you commit a little more when going forwards.
Switch Telemark is a challenge and a skill that is rewarding to master. It will also improve your overall body management and ski and edge awareness and in doing so help to improve your technique and feel for your skis on the snow. If you can do it backwards you will definitely be able to do it forwards.
Be realistic. When learning and practising any new skill it needs to be done on terrain you know well and are very comfortable telemarking on. Ride it forwards and check it out for potential hazards and also pick somewhere quiet. Wear a helmet. You will hit the deck! Realistically it is back to the greens for a while.
Be committed to what you are doing. You will be out of your comfort zone going backwards but you need to commit to the movements fully, most especially getting that knee down, in order to find stability.
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test your skills outside your comfort zone and this will raise your awareness of what you are doing, both right and wrong...
It might sound daunting but is actually quite simple. Continue a standard telemark turn back up the hill. Once right round the curve look over your down hill shoulder so that you can see the terrain below you and let the skis run backwards. Stay foot flat on your outside downhill ski letting the inside ski run back down the hill first with that heel lifted. You are riding switch. Alternatively, pop a quick 180 off a lip and you will be there!
Look over your downhill shoulder as much as possible – its good to know where you are going. It will also help you to separate and open your feet into a wider stance giving you more lateral stability and maintain pressure on the outside turning ski.
This is the moment of transition when your skis come through under your body in opposite directions and we change edges. Aim for equal movement between skis, one forward and one back, and allow your torso to rise and then fall so that your centre of gravity remains in the middle of your stance giving you some fore and aft stability. At the same time move your head to look over your other shoulder and let your upper body follow round.
Look down the hill and rotate your shoulders to achieve separation of the upper body. It’s like coiling and compressing a spring which is then uncoiled and then coiled again as you go up and down through the lead change. Be as up right as possible. Don’t let your chest fall to the snow. This is the equivalent of leaning back! Coil and uncoil that spring as you go up and down through the lead change
Use the bottom half of the turn, once you are in a stable low telemark position and on your edges, to let the skis run giving you the momentum for the lead change to transition into the next turn. Maintain your speed. Controlled speed is your friend allowing you to coordinate your movements.
We can’t pole plant but we can still use our poles for stability. They should either be out to your sides aiding balance or pointing back up the hill. You can initially drag the uphill pole for a bit of stability but long term this is a bad habit as it can encourage you to lean up the hill.
Nicko - a quick note to say very many thanks for the last week; I felt that my skiing has come a long way in a very short period of time. Nothing is better than being taught correct technique! Matt S
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