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Are telemark turns a waste of energy?

posted: 01/03/2005

Is the ostrich a model of efficiency? 'Cuz that's what telemarking looks like to this doctor: uncontrolled limb-flapping, the desperate final palsy of a giant, flightless bird. Certainly, no one makes downhill tele turns to save energy. They do it to reconnect with the snow and dance with the mountain and all that hooey. Lots of freeheelers, Flake included, do the knee-drop tango to get a good workout in a limited amount of time. Effective? Keith Nelson, a surgeon at Alpine Orthopedic Specialists, in Logan, Utah, puts it this way: "In telemark skiing, you're using all the same muscles you use in alpine skiing, but to a greater degree. It's a better opportunity for a workout, but there's also higher potential for overuse." Consider, too, the four telemark pressure points-both heels, the balls of both feet. Shifting and managing all your weight between those points is a helluva lot tougher than the relatively even, leg-to-leg weight shift on alpine skis. Tell you what: Try skiing 4,000 vertical feet of rotting mashed potatoes on alpine boards. Then do the same run on teles, and see which turn spanks you harder. Hint: Think flightless bird.

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