On a hut trip in January, I got to take Black Crows' Trios Freebird ski…
Image Source: Powder Magazine, February 2017
We both like skiing moguls, Elaine especially. But, Longhorn at Taos Ski Valley that day was a little too long and moguls a little too big for my “wet noodles.” After my third stop to catch my breath, and let those wet noodles rest, I witnessed something amazing.
I had always admired telemark skiers, but I never really considered it for myself. But when this guy rocketed down this field of never ending moguls, non-stop in a smooth, controlled, and effortless way on tele skis (yes, tele skis!) my mind changed immediately. Inspired, I was enrolled in a 10-day telemark clinic at Mammoth Mountain the following season and I never looked back. That was over 10 years ago.
There is something about telemark skiing I cannot describe. If you are a free heeler you know what I am talking about. The combination of rhythm, cognition, balance, and strength is incomparable. Strength is key – it’s like a thousand walking lunges, but don’t let that discourage you. Embrace it! Always learning, always tweaking, that perfect tele turn is ever elusive.
Despite so much innovation in alpine touring equipment over the last few years, it seems as if telemark skiing, which was once growing strong, was dying. The quintessential annual telemark festival presented by NATO (North American Telemark Organization) at Mad River Glen ended after 40 years. Sales of equipment have been declining, and shops have been shrinking or eliminating their telemark assortment. Things are looking bleak for telemark, the original ski turn.
We at Mountain Chalet refuse to let this happen. Nearly half of the Chaletan staff telemark ski. And our passion and love for the sport is too fanatical. We’ve added to our telemark assortment, promoted telemark specials, and we were the first shop in the Rockies, and third in the United States, to become a Meidjo dealer (Review Here).
In late 2015 Kim Miller, CEO of Scarpa NA, was asked if telemark skiing would survive. His response: “There is a small yet growing contingent of people in R&D, athletes and trend experts who believe that telemark is coming back—but in a different way. There are all sorts of cool innovations that are feeding that.” And he was right, witness: 22 designs’ Outlaw, The M Equipment’s Meidjo, and Bishop’s BMF. We also just saw the new prototype binding from Bishop. Miller also stated, “The desire to make the telemark turn will never go away. It is the ultimate hybrid skiing—you can’t telemark on AT gear, but you can parallel on telemark gear”.
One of our favorite partners is Monarch Mountain; they also have a passion for telemark skiing. We have teamed up with them and Salida Mountain Sports for the first, of what we hope is many, telemark festival. Dubbed “Telefestivus” (remember your Seinfeld episodes), the goal is renew and rejuvenate the free heel life. Demos, clinics, races, and skinning are all part of the program. Costumes and beer, too! Anyone can attend. It is an exclusive group, yet no one is excluded. Are you in?
By the way, tele turns in moguls are tough…really tough.