It takes eight minutes for Mark DelVecchio to ski Vail top to bottom, and he’s lunging the whole time. DelVecchio, a Vail-based personal trainer and ski patroller, has been telemark skiing for five years, freeing his heels after 20 years of alpine skiing.  “I think it’s a good transition to go from one to the other,” he says. “But I don’t necessarily think being a good alpine skier is going to make you a good tele skier, and vice versa.”  DelVecchio explains that although there are similarities in the ski methods, the motions that you do during telemarking require different muscle isolation and strength building. “In telemarking we are always down in a lunge and there is always more pressure on one leg than the other,” he says. “In alpine, you are more often balanced on both legs at once.” It’s the added challenge and skill development of telemarking that seems to lead its devout following.

“Telemark skiing reopens the way you look at the whole mountain,” says Sean Glackin, owner of Alpine Quest Sports in Edwards, Colo. “It makes skiing the mountain fresh again. It is a new challenge, a ton of fun and a great workout.”  Glackin says the transition to tele from alpine can be pretty seamless. “It’s the same edge,” he says. “It is just learning to manipulate it differently.” When you’re learning and practicing your tele turns, expect to work your leg muscles, a lot. DelVecchio recommends building up your strength with a training program before even getting up on the bunny hill.

He designed an eight-minute workout to reflect a telemark trip down Vail. Use your body weight for resistance at home or in the gym. “From this eight minutes, you will get to know the endurance required to tele ski from the top of the mountain to the bottom,” he says. “This sequence will demonstrate how you will progressively work the leg, core and stabilizer muscles in telemarking.”

DelVecchio’s Descent

The 8-Minute Tele Workout on Vail Mountain Top-to-Bottom

30 seconds: Lateral Skaters
(Top of Chair 4 to Top of Ramshorn)

120 seconds: Alternating Body Weight Lunges
(Top of Ramshorn to  The Meadows)

30 seconds: Alternating Jump Lunges
(The Meadows to Mid Vail)

60 seconds: Jump Rope
(Mid Vail to Upper Lionsway)

30 seconds: Alternating Lateral Lunge Touchdowns
(Upper Lionsway to Avanti)

60 seconds: Alternating Body Weight Lunges
(Avanti)

30 seconds: Alternating Jump Lunge
(Avanti – Bottom of Chair 2)

30 seconds: Alternating Lateral Lunge Touchdowns
(Bottom of Chair 2 – Cross Cut)

60 seconds: Alternating Body Weight Lunges
(Cross to the Bottom of Bear Tree)

30 seconds: Sprint Run
(Bottom of Bear Tree to Vail Village)

—Kim Fuller