“Telemark skiing is dead,” California’s Powder Magazine proclaimed in a headline last March, referring to the oldest of two-plank, snow-sliding sports.
If you ski in Vermont, and if you’ve ever dipped a knee into powder or soft corn snow, you might want to quibble with that. To start with, according to Ski Industries of America, between 2008 and 2015, participation in the sport increased 44 percent.
And then there’s this: Vermont plays host to a handful of tele clinics and events including—and this is the big one—the FIS Telemark World Cup, this year. The World Cup events were at Suicide Six, Jan. 17-18 and then Sugarbush on Jan. 24-26
. The last time Vermont hosted was 2008, when Sugarbush held the event. And while this World Cup may not draw the crowds that the FIS Women’s Alpine World Cup drew to Killington last November, the races attract the world’s top-ranked teleskiers from Switzerland, Slovenia, Norway and France.
“Telemark racing combines the best of alpine’s speed through gates with distance jumping and skating used in various Nordic events, wrapped into one high-tempo course,” explains Garrett Long, president of the U.S. Telemark Ski Association and a Killington regular. The World Cup has three different event formats: the Classic, which is a one-run endurance race comprising two minutes of skiing, skating and descending through more than 40 gates over 250 meters; the Sprint Classic, which is a two-run event that demands consistency and sound form; and the Dual Sprint, a side-by-side run that pits racers head-to-head.
Though Vermonters may not be winning these events, there are still plenty of locals who tele, to race or recreate. For nearly two decades Waitsfield’s Dickie Hall, the founder and long-time director of North American Telemark Organization, conducted a yearly schedule of workshops, camps, expeditions and guide and instructor training. “Over the years I’ve probably taught over 40,000 skiers and trained 1,000 instructors and guides worldwide,” he says.
And many of those folks still ski Vermont. If you want to up your tele game, Pico Mountain offers $59 group lessons on Freeheel Fridays (it’s BYO gear), or head to a tele fest like the 33rd annual Kare Anderson, held at Bromley on Feb. 25 to “free the heel and free the mind.” —L.L
Slideshow from Suicide Six, all photos by Herb Swanson.