Art Burrows, Telemark Pioneer and Backcountry Skier

Post by blogger | April 9, 2005      

Many of us living down the valley from Aspen, Colorado are incredibly grateful for the economic engine it provides. We also value the town’s amusement factor. Seems some people up there need to get out and backcountry ski more, as they worry too much about where people are living. Check this out. And if that isn’t enough, the weekly newspaper’s headline cover story last week was about the town’s McDonalds restaurant — whoever wrote that really needs a reality check.

And more, whoever at the Aspen Times weekly who decided to put McDonalds on their cover, instead of their story about Art Burrows, needs their head examined!

Buried inside the weekly Aspen Times is a terrific article about Burrows, pioneer of modern telemark skiing, incredible designer with much of his work shown in Black Diamond products and elsewhere. More, Art is an incredibly gifted athlete who was the big daddy of telemark racing in the 1970s, when racers built their own “steincomp” boots using plastic from drywall compound buckets riveted to re-soled leather alpine boots.

Backcountry skiing pioneer Art Burrows.
"Arty" Burrows in 1982, he’s
a mountain bike stud as well as a pioneer backcountry skier.
Dawson photo.

Art was one of the few early telemark skiers who applied alpine level skills to the sport, and was thus able to smoothly and safely descend steep terrain such as extreme couloirs in the Sierra. Along with that, he did a stint as a ski designer and tester with Phoenix, the first company to make dedicated performance telemark skis. All this must have been good career prep for Art, as he went on to be instrumental in designing the first successful plastic telemark boot, the Scarpa Terminator. In all, Art has had a HUGE positive influence on backcountry skiing — and he’s a friendly guy as well! Sadly, there is no online version of the Burrows article. If that changes I’ll provide a link.

Lastly, I should note that it’s none other than Art who graces the cover of my backcountry skiing history book, Wild Snow. Indeed, despite the yammering of some telemark worshipers about how “biased” I am against telemarking, Art is on the cover of my book and he’s skiing free heel on skinny skis… Art could pull it off.


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