The military's top Telemark skiers have been competing on the slopes today in the Telemark Sprint Final.

But what is Telemark skiing, and why is it so significant for the British military?

The majority of the Navy’s Telemark team are Royal Marines - and there’s a reason for that.

For decades, the Royal Marines have been the UK’s cold weather warfare specialists.

For this, they train at Harstad, more than 150 miles inside the Arctic Circle, where temperatures can reach -30˚C.

As a key part of this training, they’re taught to navigate their arctic surroundings on skis.

This means that they must ski across the mountains while carrying weapons and 70lb bergens - so it’s no wonder that they’re the forces’ experts when it comes to Telemark skiing.

Telemark skiers use skis with specially designed bindings that fix only the toe of the ski boot to the ski, thereby creating the "free heel".

Telemark skiing Meribel 2018
Telemark skiers use skis with specially designed bindings that fix only the toe of the ski boot to the ski, thereby creating the "free heel".

Crucially, this allows the skier to walk, making them a more practical method of transport when it comes to navigating Arctic terrain.

Telemark is actually the original form of skiing, invented in the “Telemark” region of Norway during the 19th century.

The sport is so important to the Royal Marines that the Commandant General, Major General Charlie Strickland, paid a visit to the taster event and told Forces News about its importance:

“Telemark links to our history, fighting and surviving in Norway, hence the Royal Marines playing a really big part of it.

“To me, young sailors and Marines should be aspiring to get into the telemark team”.

Telemark skiing Meribel 2018