I started telemark in the 80s, which is getting to be a while ago. It was a beautiful thing to see in the early days, great athletes doing amazing things on skinny edgeless skis with leather boots. I was hooked. I got a copy of The Telemark Movie by Dickie Hall, his best film IMHO, and watched it over and over. Also Steve Barnett’s classic book, Cross Country Downhill. My kids were little and just learning and it seemed like a good idea to slow myself down and progress in tele while they progressed in alpine. (All too soon they were kicking my butt).
There was a very clear separation between tele and alpine, equipment and technique, in the early days. Now there is little difference; you turn by changing edges, the rest is just details. Then came plastic boots and everything changed. Suddenly we had the power to blow up bindings and rip binding screws out of skis. Perhaps it was bad technique, but I blew up just about all of them before Hammerheads, Superloops in particular. Russell Rainey knew my voice on the phone and would say ‘Hi Denis’ when I’d call for warranty replacement parts. In just a few years we were all using alpine skis even fat skis. The era of skinny, ‘hippy sticks’ was over and the two step hop turn was history. Former lister, Dave Mann, has lamented this and he has a point. There is a special magic about choosing minimalist equipment and using it well. You can see it in Sno-liage, , the Telemark Movie, and the films of another friend, Nils Larson, Beyond the Groomed and Big Mountain, Little Skier. In one of these, you can still see Steve Barnett doing cross country downhill. Here is another entry from my friend Morgan Chase in WV.
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