As Featured in Fall Line Magazine

» Telemark Technique Tips » How to Slide Rails on Telemark Skis».

Rail Sliding, the Ultimate Head-Turner...

There are few things more impressive than a telemark skier riding rails in the park, if you think they’re hard on alpine skis, imagine doing them with only half a binding! Being free at the heel makes balance and timing absolutely critical. If you get it wrong then you’ll fall, and falling off a rail generally hurts. So why on earth would we want to learn to do it? Well, the chicks digg a telemarker in the park...

So if you want to be down with the kids and impress the girls you’ll need a little practice first. The challenge for learning park skills is being able to practice in a safe environment and making the movement achievable while progressively increasing the difficulty.

Here’s a great drill for learning the technique you’ll need to ride a rail. It simulates the change in resistance underfoot, the amount of rotation needed, the speed you’ll get while going sideways, the critical landing which must be right under the middle of the foot, your lateral balance and most importantly, it doesn’t hurt when you fall (well it hurts a lot less).

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Once you’ve mastered this drill, you’ll feel much better equipped to take it onto a small rail in the park, only make sure you’re trousers are baggy and your Y-fronts are pulled up as far as possible...

This Drill Similates all the Skills You'll Need to Slide Rails, Only it Won't Hurt (as much) When you Fall!

Step 1

Setting up the Drill

Finding the right place to practive this drill is crucial. Find a quiet slope, that's not too steep. Soft snow is preferable, you won't be travelling fast and slow wipeouts can still hurt, so use soft snow to cushion your falls. Get a broken slalom pole or piste marker and lay it in the snow so it’s pointing down the fall line. I like to dig a little mound in the snow to rest the downhill end of the pole into.

Step 2

Start with a Straight Run

You'll be starting with a straight run down the fall-line parallel to the pole lying in the snow. Take a short run-up so you’ve got just enough speed.

Step 3

Control Your Pop

When you reach the pole make a small controlled pop. Focus on flexing your ankles to initiate the pop and this will help you maintain good balance by reducing excessive movements of the arms and upper body.

Step 4

Separate as you Rotate

While in the air turn your skis 90 degrees, controlling your rotation is key. If you turn the upper body you’ll lose lateral balance and fall up the hill every time! It’s essential to focus on separating the upper and lower body to ensure accurate leg rotation and remain in balance.

Step 5

Land on the Middle of the Foot

The landing is also critical, if you don’t manage to land with the pole under the middle of the foot then you’ll more than likely slide off to one side. Land on the middle of the foot and you’ll feel completely centered and balanced.

Step 6

Edge Control

Initially aim to land with flat skis, and keep them flat! If you’re skis are tilted onto their big-toe little-toe edges then it’s virtually impossible to stay upright. Try to land on the whole foot rather than just the edge, I like to think about having all ten toes in contact with the rail throughout the slide.

As you improve, you can work on using the inside edges to grip and conrol the speed of the slide. However, this is an advanced technique and you need to be comfortable feathering those edges. If you're off-balance laterally during the slide, you won't be able to feather your edges.

Step 7

Lateral Balance

Get laterally balanced, the most common error when practicing this drill is not getting laterally balanced on landing. If you’re not laterally balanced, you’ll fall uphill. Feel that pinch in the lovehandles on the downhill side as you separate laterally and get that downhill shoulder down.

Step 8

Posture and Stance

Wide Stance, a wide stance gives you stability, if you land like a mincer, you’ll end up like minced meat.

Once you’ve mastered this drill, you’ll feel much better equipped to take it onto a small rail in the park, only make sure you’re trousers are baggy and your Y-fronts are pulled up as far as possible...

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