March 2, 2009 Last Wednesday I went telemark skiing for the first time. It was offered as a weekly trip with the Hamilton Outing Club (HOC). I've always alpine skied, and had always wanted the opportunity to try telemark skiing. However, the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a huge (and expensive) endeavor - I'd have to find a place that rented the skis and boots, pay for lessons, and pay for a lift ticket. When I saw that the Outing Club was offering trips, I jumped at the chance. I only had to pay for my lift ticket ($15). The
Outing Club lent me skis and provided the transportation and a lesson. The mountain, Toggenburg, is only 45 minutes away, so we were able to simply hop in a van and go.
Telemark skiing is different from alpine in that you have a free heel (Google "Telemark" to see a picture). When you turn, you don't use your hips as much (like alpine skiing), but instead go into a lunge position and drop your knee down. It almost looks like the skiers are moonwalking effortlessly down the mountain, and their lower knee almost touches the ground. I would have taken pictures to better explain it, but it was too dark! It was a lot of fun to be able to try it out for the first time. Sarah Weis, the assistant director of outdoor leadership (who I know well from Adirondack Adventure), brought us out and gave us a lesson. I had to work on unlearning the alpine method of skiing, which I've done for about 10 years now, and it took me a little while to get used to telemark.
We got there at about 5:30 and skied until 8:30. We started on the bunny hill with Sarah teaching us, and when we eventually started to get the hang of it, we went up on the lift to try the main slope. There were only five of us, so we got a lot of individual coaching. My friend Dave was there, who only started teleskiing about a month ago, and has already gone 14 times. He's basically gone telemark skiing every other day and has gotten really good in a short amount of time. Sarah had him demonstrate for us. He's taken advantage of the opportunity, which I'm kind of sorry I hadn't learned about earlier. If I have time, I'm going to try to borrow the skis again and get back to Toggenburg for a few hours when I don't have class or a lot of work. I was just so amazed that we were able to do this.
The Ski and Snowboard Guild on campus provides a bus to Toggenburg every Wednesday, and they go from 4pm until about 10 at night. You can just hop on the bus for free, and also get a Toggenburg season pass for a reduced price. One of my participants from Adirondack Adventure was also at Toggenburg that night, and she had never tried a snow sport before. She took the bus, rented a snowboard, and had a lesson for the first time. I'm excited to get out of class early one day, throw some skis (and possibly Dave) into the car, and spend an afternoon fine-tuning my telemarking skills.