Next time you head to the hill and Ringo and Yolanda are running their mouths about floppy cable bindings and über-tech A.T. setups, tell them to reach in the truck and grab your skis. You know, the ones with “Bad Mother F@*%ers” on ‘em. The new BMF bindings from Bishop are quite simply the most badass telemark bindings in the universe. Being a Bishop, you expect them to be burly and powerful, but these bad mamma jammas are tougher than Marsellus Wallace wielding a shotgun, giving you the confidence you need to bust moves that would make Vincent Vega blush.
The BMFs come in two flavors, so Bishop’s got you covered whether you’re looking to earn your turns on top of the highest peaks or rip Hollywood lines right under the chairlift. The BMF-3 is for freeheeling shredders looking to dominate the park, pow, moguls and groomers with the aura of Jules delivering an ominous monologue. The BMF-R is for tele skiers looking to get outta dodge and into the backcountry faster than Butch on Zed’s chopper thanks to an unprecedented 63 degrees of unrestricted movement when in tour mode.
Wolf Creek Ski Area is in a precious gem of a storm track that conspires with a prominent ridge of the southern San Jan Mountains to consistently produce powder days as fat as Oprah in the ’90s. It is as puckeringly steep as it is maddeningly bench-ridden. Though something of a planetary chakra for old-school freeheel wisdom, Wolfie also represents one of the more hotly contested territories in Texas’ long-running campaign to annex the best parts of Colorado. Like all places where disparate energetic currents mingle and intertwine, it constitutes a liminal space: a place of transition where the self must simultaneously delineate and expand its boundaries in order to survive, grow and evolve.
So I’m gingerly picking pow-circles from my beard at the bottom of Alberta Lift, waiting for a buddy on a snowboard who is undoubtedly cursing those benches as he swims (or whatever you call what snowboarders do in navel-deep snow) across the flats. As I wait, a guy in a Carhartt tuxedo pizzas his way over to ask if my bindings are broken.
“Nah bro,” I assure him, “They ain’t broken. Not yet at least.” I’d stopped skiing G3 Targas years ago, so I actually had a prayer that my telemark bindings would make it through the rest of the day.
The cowboy inquires about telemark skiing, about why I do something that looks, as he put it, “so damned ridiculous hard!”
It’s a good question. Why do we choose to ski in this manner that’s athletically inefficient, nearly impossible to become an expert at, and, even if expertise is achieved, makes a face-down-in-the-pow moment more likely than it is for a first-grade nerd who encounters a bully in a snowstorm?
I wonder if I should I summarize for my Texan homeboy the aesthetic purity of the freeheel turn or the magical rhythm of dropping knee after knee down an unlined alpine face. Or might I describe the practicality of moving with ease through all varieties of winter terrain, especially those nasty benches? And what about our history? The telemark turn as an epoch-making moment: a first-ever smoothing of skis across the fall line instead of just down it; the initiation of an era where we could descend a snowy hillside with something like control, maybe even grace?
Or do I ask him to consider the more spiritual implications of telemarking? The ecstatic partnership between the mountain and the freeheeled skier; that cosmic extend-float-compress-slarve dance of pinning in pow; the enhancement of one’s personal vibrational frequency through the maverick dynamism of changing lead skis; that time on the hut trip I ate too many magic mushrooms and the Great Spirit of the Mountain manifested to inform me, “Alpine skiing is absolutely soulless!”
But those are gaper answers, cliched and empty of insight into something real as the narrative of a Warren Miller movie. You could probably say the same things about monoskiing. About snowblading.
So I do what Socrates would do, what Jesus would do, and flip the question back to him.
“I dunno, dude. Why do you ski?”
He scratches the corner of his mustache, licks at the chap of his lips.
“It’s an excuse to get away from the wife when there’s nothin’ to hunt.”
And in the gathering clouds above Alberta Peak, the Great Spirit of the Mountain smiles, confident in the knowledge that She will continue to sell lift tickets; $18 cheeseburgers; jester hats with little bells on all the points; and shiny, immaculately machined, totally bomber telemark bindings—with ski brakes, alpine-style step-in, seventy degrees of resistance-free touring, and the sweetest, most badass progressive flex—forever and ever, amen.
We tele because The Great Spirit of the Mountain loves us the most.
Bishop Badassador, Sarah Carley recaps the USTSA Telemark Nationals at Crotched Mountain, NH earlier this month
The first day, Thursday was a training day. Friday we started off with two classics, I opened up on the podium in third and then fourth for the second race. Saturday was a two run sprint classic -- after the first run I was in third and for the second run I jumped big, fell, and ended up in fifth.
Sunday was a long day, I ran two qualifying runs in the morning and qualified for the parallel in second place. Having the upper hand through most of the bracket, I won my race in the bracket of 8, and then had a narrow and very contentious win in the bracket of 4 -- making it to the finals.
I raced in the final and ended up falling on the jump (go big or go home!), but I knew I just needed a finish to end up in second for the day, so I hiked and skied the rest. So overall I had a second, third, fourth and fifth place finish -- and taking my best two results to calculate National Champion, I ended up third overall by a narrow margin in either direction.
Congrats to Sarah for a strong finish in New Hampshire! And to Bishop supporter and athlete, Lucy Sackbauer for picking up a big win at the Big Mountain Tele Fest in Targhee the same weekend. GO Team Bishop!
I just arrived in Jackson Hole, where I’m spending the night on my friend’s couch before the Freeheel Life family rolls in and I have a real place to stay for the Grand Targhee Big Mountain Telemark Comp. Saturday is also World Telemark Day, so if you won’t be here, I’m sorry. You’re missing out on a fantastic weekend of beer drinking and freeride telemarking.
Bishop Bindings is sponsoring the weekend’s festivities and I will be competing along with this next generation of rippers who are redefining the sport of freeride telemarking. Tele Big Mountain Freeriders are scored based on line choice, fluidity, technique, control, and style as they navigate through natural terrain featuring trees, steeps, cliffs, chutes, drops and gullies with a top prize of $750 (that’s a whole lotta beer money).
The Bishop Team approached me and asked me to write a quick blog post about how I’ve been training for this comp. So, let me regale you of how I’ve been training.
For the most part I’ve spent some of January and most of February in Revelstoke, getting my ass kicked by local Revelstoke legends skiing all day then drinking copious amounts of beer, only to surprisingly feel pretty decent the next day. This is because the town of Revelstoke is only at 1500ft - which is remarkable considering the Front Range of Colorado (where I live) is 5,000 feet. If nothing else, my time in Revy has prepared me for the party that’s about to ensue…
Best of luck to all the competitors and hope to see you all there!
Dylan Siggers threw a beer to me from the top of the cliff. Unsurprisingly, it got buried. This is victory after recovering said beer. American Avalanche Association, I look forward to receiving my Avy 6 in the mail soon.
So, my liver is in fantastic shape. Also, my diet has been top notch - hot wings in the backcountry are a phenomenal move that I would recommend to anyone.
For more of Troy’s exploits, check out this video from Troy and the Burrrlapz crew.