It is International Women's Day 2017, and here at Bishop Binding Co. we want to give a shoutout to all the badass women telemark skiers out there. It’s a day to remind the strong women in your life that they don’t need to apologize for being awesome, and as badass ladies on tele skis we need to claim this sport as ours too.
It’s pretty safe to say that everyone knows the badass women alpine skiers of the world: Vonn, Maze, Gut and Shiffrin, who are constantly pushing the limits of speed and strength. Everyone knows freestyle women: Kearny and Dufour-Lapointe, as they expand notions of beauty, grace and gravity.
But where are the badass telemark women of the world?
We are in your backyard. We camp in the parking lot and are hiking up before you’re even making your morning coffee. We are dropping cliffs and taking face shots before you have your boots on. We are smacking gates, hitting rails and dodging trees. And we are still doing it all long after you have packed up your car and are heading home for the day.
On the slopes, I often get introduced to other people as “the best” or “one of the best female telemark skiers in the United States.” While this is true (I’ve seen the top of a podium or two, or twenty) why can’t they just say, “Oh yeah, see her there? Yeah she’s one of the best telemark skiers in the United States.” Because I am. Don’t say I ski like a girl. I either ski like someone who has practiced and trained for hours, or I ski like someone who hasn't.
My journey to get here was long and it was rough. It has been bruises and tears, sore muscles, lost toenails, broken bones and frostbitten skin. When I was 10, I finally convinced my parents to get me a pair of telemark skis and boots; a 3-pin binding setup and gold old leather lace-ups. While I still have elf-sized feet (6.5), back then there was no hope of finding something small enough. We stuffed the front of the boots with newspaper and socks and off I went. Within two years, I became the founding member of a telemark group at my home mountain that in the past 10 years has produced not only dozens of passionate and talented telemark skiers between the ages of 7 and 20 but also five U.S. National Team telemark skiers. Four are men. One is me.
When I joined the tele world it was a man’s sport: They taught me the joys of going uphill as well as down, how to rip the bumps and kick back a beer at the end of the day, and for that I will always be grateful. But there is no reason that we need to be in that world any more, the great guys that taught me to telemark make up part of the sport, but there is no reason they should own it. If you take a minute to look around you will see the badass women and girls that are teleing all around the world (#girlswhotelemark on instagram is a great place to start) and you should take note because we are the ones who are pushing the sport to go further. We are the ones who are out there during our lunch breaks demoing new equipment and skiing with other people, inspiring them to do what we love.
The fight to change the industry — the products that are being produced and the way that they are marketed — is a long road, but that doesn't mean that women just have to roll over and accept it. Yes, it will be a long time before I find a women's boot that is stiff and powerful enough for my skiing, so until then I will rock my men's T-Race, the only 75mm boot that is powerful enough to match my Bishops.
When you’re asked why you do what you do, don’t say because your boyfriend does it, or your husband. You telemark because you love it and you’re good at it, and it’s okay if people know that. So my advice for the badass telemark ladies out there (from someone who is still trying to figure it out for herself), is to be the boss of your own sport, teach your friend, or sister, or daughter to telemark because it is their sport too. On International Women's day, we hear how women belong in the boardroom and sky-high offices, but hey — we belong on the ski mountain too, dropping knees and turning heads, one tele turn at a time.