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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Fakermark: my first time on telemark skis

This weekend was a return trip to the Mt Hood area and the Summit Ski Area for my first time on telemark skis. A friend and I had wanted to learn how to telemark for a while because everyone had told us that telemark skis and skins were the best for back country skiing or ski mountineering. I had seen enough people ski right down Mt St Helens or Mt Adams while I had to slog it back down with an occasional glissade that I wanted to learn how to use telemark or randonee skis for climbs. However, I agree with the sticker that says "Randonee is French for 'I don't know how to tele.'" For those who are unfamiliar with telemark skis, it's like downhill skiing on cross country skis.

I was a bit afraid that this tele ski lesson was going to be similar to my first snowboarding lessons which I spent most of it finding a variety of painful ways to fall on my butt. However today's telemark skis are really nice parabolic shapes that I could just downhill ski techniques. It was really easy to get down the hill and I just had to concentrate on learning the tele turn by bending my downhill ski ankle and keeping the uphill ball of the foot planted.

At the beginning, I was mostly a Fakermark skiier. That means that I would really just slide out my downhill ski and do a token heel lift with my uphill ski. It looked like I was telemarking but I wasn't getting any benefit from the telemark turn. I worked on it and got a little better. My two friends did much better as one of them got the technique down while using 12 year old skis. I was surprised how logical the telemark style was which was described as "simultaneous knee" skiing. It was easy to pick up the technique of the telemark but I need more practice time on the mountain. Thanks to my dad falling in love with skiing in Colorado, I had been downhill skiing for 20 years which helped with today's learning curve. I had plateaued with downhill a while ago so I will be working on the telemark technique in the future.

Summit Ski Area has a nice long easy hill that's one notch up from a bunny hill. I had previously known the ski area for having the nastiest bathrooms in the Mt Hood area. However, it has a proud history as the first ski resort in Oregon and the slopes were great for learning a new technique since they are long with a consistent gradient. There were a lot of beginner snow boarders which caused me to remember my first years learning it and also some parents teaching their young children how to ski. I could see bringing my little one up there in a few years and see what piece of equipment and technique he wants to use to come down the hill.

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