Telemark skiing is sometimes referred to as "Freeheel" skiing - this is quite simply because, unlike normal alpine ski bindings, telemark skis have bindings that do not have a fixed heel. (i.e. you can lift the heel of your foot from the ski at any time). In addition, telemark boots are flexible, allowing the skier to bend the boot in the toe area.
The reason for this set-up is that the telemark skier's turn has one leg forward and the other (rear) leg with the rear knee dropping towards the ground. Weight is maintained on both feet as the turn is made on both skis, not just one. If you've ever seen ski jumping competitions, you may have noticed that the ski jumpers use this type of turn to land (they too have free heel bindings).
The resulting technique is very different to alpine skiing. The upper body is generally closer to the ground, turns are very fluid, and due to the flexible stance, rough terrain is absorbed.
Some people say "so it's like cross country skiing then?". Well, although telemark and cross country are both Nordic ski techniques, they are very different in practice. The most obvious thing that they have in common is the fact that the heel is free.
As you probably guessed its pretty cold up there in the mountains, so lots of warm clothing is essential, and remember that its lots of layers, not a huge jacket that keeps you warm. Gloves are a must, and at all times when you skiing, not just for warmth, but from protection from the shape edges of your skis or other people skis.
The Skiers Code - rules for the slopes
The FIS (International Ski Federation) has established ten rules for the conduct of skiers and snowboarders. In short, they are:
Respect: Do not endanger others.
Control: Adapt the manner and speed of your skiing to you ability and to the general conditions on the mountain.
Choice of route: The skier/snowboarder in front has priority - leave enough space.
Overtaking: Leave plenty of space when overtaking a slower skier/snowboarder.
Entering and starting: Look up and down the mountain each time before starting or entering a marked run.
Stopping: Only stop at the edge of the piste or where you can easily be seen.
Climbing: When climbing up or down always keep to the side of the piste.
Signs: Obey all signs and markings - they are there for your safety.
Assistance: In the case of accidents provide help and alert the rescue service.
Identification: All those involved in an accident, including witnesses, should exchange names and addresses