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.
Bishop Bindings are already pretty damn powerful. There aren’t any cables flopping around, there’s an adjustable pivot location, and the whole damn thing is made out of machined metal. But there are always those folks out there — usually it’s a guy, and usually he has some regrettable tribal tattoos — who insist their boots, skis and bindings just aren’t stiff enough to handle their “shredding.” Power Maniacal Juice Heads rejoice! The Bishop Power Block is here.
The Power Block is a pretty simple addition to the Bishop binding. It’s just a ramped piece of plastic that snaps on to the front of the binding (secured with one screw) and gets rid of elf-shoe effect that your clapped out 75mm telemark boots have. In short, it means quicker engagement and more power.
I’ve had the pleasure of skiing on some Power Blocks for the past few weeks, and I can give some real world insight into what it’ll do for your skiing. The first thing that you’ll notice is it’s a bit harder to click into your skis. If you’re right on the border between two micro notches on your heel bail, try the one a bit further back and save yourself the headache of fumbling around like a jackass trying to get your skis on. Trust me, there will still be plenty of power and pre load.
Photo 1: Look! No dead spot under the toe. And believe me, this boot is jacked up from several seasons of my horrendous technique.
Photo 2: They aren’t super attractive, intricately machined metal like the rest of the binding, but they’re under your boots while skiing so you can’t see ‘em.
Second, there’s no heel flop. Pop off jumps, land switch, sit on the lift and shake your ski like a madman. Nothing. No flopping at all. It’s awesome. Third, there’s a TON of edging power, enough so that it kind of forces you to be on your game when making turns. While you’ll get an unbelievable amount of edging power, there’s a downside if you’re feeling lazy and want to get a little more slarvey.
The ski wants to track and drive the tip with authority rather than get sideways. Just be sure to drive it, or it’ll drive you. On that same note, if you’re skiing super blower bottomless powder, the tip won’t rise quite as easily as you may be used to. Keep in mind the caveat that I weigh around 150 pounds soaking wet, so you bigger folks may have an easier time engaging the turn in soft snow.
Power blocks are super powerful. They give you a crazy amount of edging power and ability to drive the tip down the fall line at the expense of some ease of turn initiation and sideways slashability. If you want to rip really powerfully, they’re for you. If you want to get all playful and bounce around the mountain, maybe not as much. Or give them a try for some days and leave them at home other days. They’re easy to install in about 45 seconds, so I recommend giving Power Blocks a try when you want to get sendy.
Photo 3: Old guy can still pull off a rodeo in variable conditions, thanks in no small part to a binding that has a tendency to save my ass when I blow it.
Let’s get something straight: There’s not really a right or wrong way to make a telemark turn. Keep that caveat in mind when you have the urge to scream something about me being a blaspheming jackass while you’re reading this. The turn is a dynamic and fickle mistress that’s adaptable to terrain, conditions and personality. Whether you get wicked low and smell like patchouli oil spilled on the floor of a brothel or you fancy skin suits and precise edge bevels, there’s a unique way the turn will fit your needs. So we’re not going to get too technical here; instead we’ll focus on a few concrete concepts that apply to almost anyone.
If you’re a beginner just finding your way to the enlightened freeheel realm, these tips can help speed up your learning curve without a bunch of PSIA-inspired, brain-busting bull$%!^. Or if you’re a telemark Zoolander with an aversion to going left, these basics will transform you into an ambi-turning legend. Best of all, you only really have to remember two things:
1. A strong telemark stance is all that really matters.
Capable telemark skiing lives and dies in a powerful telemark stance. There’s more than one way to do it, but the key lies in being able to quickly get into your comfortable telemark stance and drive down the fall line. I’m not too dogmatic on what a telemark stance looks like, but there are a few things I think help out a lot.
A good drill is to traverse a relatively flat groomer and while getting into and out of your telemark stance on one side. Go from the right side of the run to the left while practicing your left turn stance (right foot forward). Go all the way across the run smoothly engaging and releasing from your strong telemark stance. Turn and repeat on the opposite side. Drop your poles so you don’t have anything to cheat with, and just focus on achieving a good solid base in one motion.
2. Ski the fall line.
Skiing the fall line makes everything a lot easier. Usually when you feel like you’re fighting your turns, you’re doing something to cross up the fall line, and it’s straight up harshing your mellow.
Example of Garbage Techinque for Garbage Skiing:
Example of Strong Fall Line $%!^:
There’s your rocket surgery. Keep you stance compact. Get into your stance quickly. Keep your upper body and turns moving down the fall line. Now get out to a demo day, a freeheel clinic or any other event where you can show folks what you’re made of.