Psychological Characteristics of the Telemark Skier

Article excerpt

The origins of skiing date back to a time when skis were used primarily as a means of travel, beginning with the earliest migrations of man and continuing into the ninth century (Dudley, 1935). Cross country, or Nordic skiing, originated in the Scandinavian countries of Norway and Sweden, and aided travelers across wide-open, terrain prior to the 19th century (Tant, Van Gerper-Henn, & Lamack, 1992). It was at this point when the elegance of this sliding and gliding sport developed and individuals became enamored with downhill running and jumping (Dudley, 1935; Flower, 1976; Tant et al., 1992).

Sondre Nordheim, born in 1825 in the town of Telemark, Norway, developed a new concept of downhill descent in the 1850's (Dudley, 1935; Flower, 1976). Referred to as the telemark turn, the innovative style consisted of a graceful arcing movement with one foot and ski positioned ahead of the other. The unique maneuver was utilized during jumping contests to provide better fore-to-aft stability in order to offset the pull of gravity during landings. This style of skiing ultimately became the standard throughout the world during competitions (Dudley, 1935; Tant et al., 1992). Today the telemark turn is considered to be one of the prettiest moves in all of free-heeled skiing (Freeman, 1974). At the present time, the development and current advances in equipment have given rise to the resurgence of loose-heel skiing and ski touring as popular sporting activities.

Within the last decade, investigations into the psychology of sport have moved from the research laboratory and have gained support as a major adjunct for sport improvement (Meyers, LeUnes, & Bourgeois, 1996b; Murphy, 1988; Orlick & Partington, 1988). An extensive body of research exists on the psychological characteristics of elite and collegiate athletes involved in traditional sporting events (Daiss, LeUnes, & Nation, 1986; Hagberg, Mullin, Bahrke, & Limburg, 1979; Meyers, Sterling, & LeUnes, 1988; Raglin, Morgan, & Luchsinger, 1990). Early research revealed an interrelationship between personality characteristics and athletic performance (May, Veach, Reed, & Griffey, 1985; Meyers et al., 1988, 1996b; Morgan & Pollock, 1977), as well as documenting event-specific characteristics unique to each sport when compared to non-athletic populations (Bridgewater, 1983; Fuchs & Zaichkowsky, 1983; Hagberg et al., 1979; Meyers et al., 1988; Ratliff, 1982).

Relatively little research exists regarding the psychology of the recreational skier and specific research on telemark skiing is extremely limited. A quantitative look may be useful in identifying psychological characteristics associated with athletic potential and would add to the present body of knowledge gathered on winter sports. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to quantify psychological characteristics prevalent among telemark skiers across skill level and gender, and to compare results with prior research established on traditional athletes.



Following written informed consent, 43 telemark skiers from ski areas in Montana, Utah, and Maine (mean age 28.8 [+ or -] 4.1 years; 22 males, 21 females) completed a battery of psychometric inventories to determine mood states, motivation, precompetitive anxiety, locus of control, personality traits and psychological skills. In addition, each subject completed a self assessment form and ranked their skill level. Level of ability was determined by the terrain which one comfortably and consistently skis. Each battery consisted of the Profile of Mood States (POMS; McNair, Loft, & Droppleman, 1971), the Sports Attitude Inventory (SAI; Willis, 1982), the Sport Competition Anxiety Test (SCAT; Martens, 1977), the Controlled Repression-Sensitization Scale (CR-S; Handel, 1973), Levenson's Locus of Control (LOC; Levenson, 1981), the Eysenck Personality Inventory (EPI; Eysenck & Eysenck, 1982), and the Psychological Skills Inventory for Sport (PSIS; Mahoney, Gabriel, & Perkins, 1987). …