The technique is named after the Telemark region of Norway. As well as inventing the Telemark turn, Sondre Norheim and his fellow skiers used and refined parallel skiing techniques. Thus, while the Telemark is part of early skiing's foundation, parallel techniques are of equal importance.

Telemark skiing (also known as free heel skiing) is a form of skiing using the Telemark turn. Unlike alpine skiing equipment, the skis used for telemarking either have a binding that only connects the boot to the ski at the toes, just as in cross-country skiing, or may be released to only connect there.

The Telemark turn came to the attention of the Norwegian public in 1868. Norheim's technique of fluid turns soon dominated skiing, and in Norway it continued to do well into the next century.
Starting in the 1910s, newer techniques based on the stem gradually replaced Telemark in the Alpine countries. Newer techniques were easier to master and enabled shorter turns better suited for steeper alpine terrain and skiing downhill. The Telemark turn became the technique of ski touring in rolling terrain.
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