The Countertop Chronicles

"Run by a gun zealot who's too blinded by the NRA" - Sam Penney of

Monday, February 02, 2004

Telemark Skiing

Well, the mail from this thing is fairly interesting. The fact that I get any is, well, interesting enough in its own right. But some of the questions are even more so. So, after reading my post the other day about obesity and childhood sports, some people want to know if that's me telemarking, where do I go, seeing as I live in DC not in the mountains, and what the heck am I actually doing.

Well, first, that is not me, though I used to be almost as good (I'm a little out of shape now). Rather, its Chip Chase, proprietor of the Whitegrass Nordic Ski Center in Canaan, WV.

Whitegrass, a little commune of hippy environmentalists who are keeping the freewheeling (and freeheeeling) spirit of the early ski years going is one of my favorite places to ski .... in the whole wide world. Check out their blog like report. Quite simply, the most honest assessment of ski conditions you will see from any area. If I have the time to get away, I also enjoy Mad River Glen in Waitsfield, VT but just don't make it up there as much as I would like.

Actually, this year I haven't gone anywhere near as much as I would like ... but that's ok, cause I'm spending the time with my son. Hopefully, I'll get him out sometime this month, or maybe march. Depending on the weather, I will probably take him for his 2nd birthday.

As for what it is - Telemarking is often referred to as nordic downhill. The telemark turn is the original ski turn, developed 1000s of years ago near, presumably, Telemark, Norway. What it has become is a nice mix of both downhill skiing and cross country skiing. I don't need a lift to take me to the top, I can ski up the hill myself. When I get to the top, I turn around and ski down ... trail - or better yet - no trail.

The skis themselves vary quite a bit - both sets I have are like cross country skis with metal edges (I have a thin pair for everyday conditions and a fat pair for poweder) and a really beefed up three pin cross country ski binding. The bindings have big metal springs which wrap around my leather ski boots (comfy comfy comfy) to provide some added stability if I'm skiing down an especially steep trail.

That about it. A great place to learn is with Dickie Hall at the North American Telemark Association. He's based in Waitsfield, VT but travels around the country teaching folks how to telemark. If you get the chance, I highly recommend it. At the end of the day its more graceful than skiing (and less brutal on your body) and incredibly more fulfilling than a sport like snowboarding which requires, IMHO, somewhat less than zero mental dedication to learning the fundamentals.


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