Learn to ski and ride: telemark skiing
Ryan Summerlin January 8, 2012
Different people come at learning to telemark ski from vastly different angles, experience levels and skill sets.
What’s often the same is the eagerness to give it a try, and the determination to learn.
That much was evident in Friday’s group lesson at Arapahoe Basin, one of the few resorts in the area that guarantees an opportunity to learn telemarking in Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning lessons.
“It’s one of the things that makes A-Basin unique,” said Leslie Walker, snowsports supervisor.
Diane Beavers, a pharmacist on the Front Range, approached telemark skiing having snowboarded for the past seven years of her life. It was the only “sliding” she was recently familiar with, and not only was the motion different, so, too, was the gear.
However, she was eager to learn. With days off from work and a pass in hand, she wanted to get to the slopes, and opted to try something new as she awaited snowfall to bring out her board full-force.
Meanwhile, on Friday, instructor Tim Stroh had a challenge on his hands: a sideways slider coupled with an experienced skier in a group lesson.
He first went over the basics: clipping into the bindings, finding a balanced, two-footed stance, and shuffling the feet and maintaining that balance.
He stuck mostly to the beginner section of Arapahoe Basin, the Molly Hogan lift and learning area, but the setup was ideal for what was such a varied group lesson. Stroh was able to talk to one student on the lift as the other skied with him, practicing drills. Then he’d switch.
“You both need different things to support you at your level,” he said.
Stroh focused on teaching the minute movements that make up telemark skiing: shuffling the feet while maintaining a balanced telemark stance, the subtle knee shifts that release the ski’s edges, looking down the slope instead of across the hill to initiate a turn, and ways to feel comfortable with the foreign telemark turn.
Progress is visible in a lesson, and it’s something that excites instructors when their students get it, and frustrates them when they don’t, Stroh said. On Friday, he was excited.
So was Beavers.
Midway through the laps on Molly Hogan, she asked Stroh where she could get second-hand telemark gear.
Stroh was thrilled.