What makes Val Thorens stand apart is our love for everything that takes you off the beaten track! Though snowsports disciplines are now dominated by skiing and snowboarding, there was a time when riders who wanted to stand out from the crowd sought out new styles. Skwal, Telemark, Monoski... Do those ring any bells? Let’s take a trip back to the 80s to rediscover these snowsports.
Considered the ancestor of Alpine skiing and imported from Norway where it was invented in the 19th century, it took almost 200 years for aficionados seeking something new to dust off this discipline. Since then, the art of Telemark-style skiing has been brought right up to date, with a great many Telemark events and gatherings flourishing in the Alps: on the slopes, have you ever crossed paths with an odd skier whose heels aren’t fixed to their skis? “Free heels, free spirit” is their motto! Telemark is a skiing style in which the heels aren’t fixed to the ski, allowing the skier more freedom of movement, giving them harmoniously fluid motion and delicate contact with the snow. Essentially, it’s a fairly similar technique to skiing, so you won’t be completely lost, but it’s also original enough that you’ll discover completely new sensations on the slopes.
Télémark lessons in Val Thorens :
3 shops proposing telemark for rent
Every so often, vintage comes back into fashion… And the same goes for monoskiing! Since the early 2000s, monoskis have made a real comeback on the slopes!
With both feet parallel and firmly attached to the single board that constitutes the monoski, the skier faces down the slope (unlike on a snowboard which is positioned at an angle to the direction of the slope). This new style is a trip straight back to the 80s: tightly tucked knees and plenty of sculling is the technique you’ll need to master the board! Monoskiing inspired a whole generation and continues to attract devotees in our mountains.
The more daring amongst you can even try out a tandem monoski: two of you on the same board, just like a tandem bicycle, you’ll have to demonstrate flawless balance if you don’t want to both end up face down in the snow!
Monoski lessons in Val Thorens:
4 shops to rent monoskis in Val Thorens:
Unarguably the least well-known discipline of modern times, the Skwal emerged in the 90s. A mix between monoskiing and snowboarding, it comprises a single board, narrower than a monoski, to which the feet are attached one in front of the other. It involves really extreme carving, where the skier’s body grazes the slopes almost along its entire length because of how tight the turning angles are! Mastering a Skwal requires precise technique to control how you glide over the snow. Despite the technical requirements making this one of the less accessible sports, you’ll often come across hardened skiers on our slopes addicted to the sensation of flexibility it offers! Why not have a go yourself!
An endangered species on our slopes, the Teleboard is a mix between the Skwal (two feet on the same board one in front of the other), and the Telemark (heels not attached to the board). The action of the free heel allows the skier to turn more sharply, increasing the already huge range of turns offered by a traditional Skwal. Though the discipline spread rapidly across the USA and Europe, it’s starting to be forgotten...
A message for lovers of forgotten disciplines, if you’ve decided to have a go, we can’t wait to see your photos on our social networks! ;)