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Thursday May 10, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

It's the world's oldest ski discipline and is growing in popularity but Telemark is not in the Olympics. This week there's an attempt to change that.




Should Telemark skiing be an Olympic discipline?

The leading lights of the sport have been trying to get it included for years and they're about to get another chance.

In the country where the Olympics were born, the great and the good of the International Ski Federation (FIS) are starting their biennial Congress.

They have a packed agenda and one of their tasks will be to decide whether to ask the International Olympic Committee to include new ski or snowboard events at the next Games in Beijing in 2022.

The Telemark bid is one of about seven - including team aerials and team snowboard cross - to be considered by the Congress, which is being held at Costa Navarino in Greece.

The crucial vote will take place on Friday 18th May.

Louis HatchwellGB's Louis Hatchwell in Telemark action














What  is Telemark?

  • A combination of nordic and alpine skiing where the ski boots are clicked into a toe binding but the heels are free - like in ski touring
  • Norwegian Sondre Norheim, a pioneer of modern skiing, is said to have invented the Telemark turn and first demonstrated it in a race in 1868
  • The equipment can be used for ski jumping, to ski cross-country, on piste, off piste and even in the freestyle parks
  • It's named after Telemark, the place in Norway where it originated
  • The first Telemark World Cup races were held in the mid 1990s

Flying the flag for Telemark at the FIS Congress will be Andrew Clarke.

The founder of the British Telemark Association, who was its team Captain for six years, is the chairman of the FIS Telemark committee.

He's been leading the charge for Olympic recognition for almost 10 years.

"The vote is a culmination of a lot of combined effort but if Telemark is successful at this important milestone vote at Congress next Friday it will be only the start of a much bigger journey," Andrew Clarke told PlanetSKI.

He'll be spending the week lobbying on behalf of the cause.

The Telemark bid has the support of a number of key FIS member nations, including France, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Slovenia, Finland and Denmark.

The aim is to get two events - the parallel sprint and the mixed-gender team parallel sprint - included in the Olympics.

The argument is that head-to-head races are popular with the public, sponsors, television companies and event organisers.

Telemark racingHead-to-head Telemark racing









This is what the official bid document says about the events:

Telemark embraces the most competitive and technical aspects of skiing. It has extremely attractive viewer qualities and significant youth appeal as a 'cool' discipline and complements the already established ski and snowboard parallel events.

Have a look at this film published by FIS Telemark in 2014 to see how the sport has developed:


Even if Telemark wins the FIS popularity contest, the job will be far from done.

The International Olympic Committee will decide in June whether to include new events in Beijing.

One of those keeping her fingers crossed for Olympic recognition is Britain's Jasmin Taylor.

The 24-year-old has just had her best season with 14 World Cup podiums, including four wins.

She finished fourth overall in the world rankings.

World Cup telemark podiumJasmin Taylor (left) - 14 World Cup podiums last season














"Telemark is the ultimate thrill, you have to be fast and precise and as a competitor, your skiing, jumping and skating skills are all put to the test," she told us.

"Competing at the Olympic Games has been my dream for as long as I can remember and it would mean the world to me if Telemark were to be included as an Olympic sport."

Jasmin TaylorJasmin Taylor















The supporters of Telemark say there's been a resurgence in the discipline among recreational skiers, especially the young, with more children getting involved at club level and 'free-heelers' increasingly using snow parks and pipes at resorts across the world.

Jack Harvard Taylor, the former Telemark racer who looks after the marketing for GB Telemark, says the World Cup is gaining momentum and getting noticed.

"In the last 18 months we've seen a huge increase in the levels of interest and grassroots participation as the sport continues to grow," he told PlanetSKI.

"TV and livestream audiences are also increasing with Telemark overtaking other major winter sport events in the 2017/18 calendar which is very positive for the sport."
















Telemark may be the oldest ski discipline but the powers-that-be are looking forward rather than back.

While their Olympic ambitions are their immediate priority, they have other plans to modernise and to boost the sport's appeal.

Next up - a series of urban street races in key European cities.  Now that sounds worth watching....

The 51st International Ski Congress takes place at Costa Navarino in Greece from 13th to 19th May.

We'll let you know what happens, so check back for our news updates.

FIS CongressWill Telemark get the vote? - photo FIS













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