August, 2007: While at the summer OR trade show a few weeks ago, Mitch Weber of Telemarktips.com caught me for an on-camera interview. He does a nice job with those so I’m always game when he’s out hunting for people to film. Just a friendly chat without too much in the way of controversy or hard questions.
(2014 update, the original Telemarktips is defunct so link is removed. For those new to the game, Telemarktips was influential and popular for a number of years during a surge in the popularity of telemark skiing that lasted from approximately 1994 through 2001 according to industry insiders.)
|Telemarker’s take on me a decade ago, now we’re all loving on each other (grin). This caricature of myself was published in Couloir Magazine during the flame storm I started by calling telemarking “backwater,” used by permission, and as fair use to show item referred to in news and history.|
For his text intro to the video, Mitch dug up some old Couloir Magazine column writing of mine from way back in 1994 (for about 10 years I wrote a column called “Dawson’s backcountry”).
Titled Confession of a Lift Chair Swinger, the piece was written while I was sitting in the funky base lodge up at tiny Sunlight Mountain above Glenwood Springs, Colorado. My four-year-old was in their daycare program, and I’d ride the lifts and enjoy doing some ski testing and powder stash hunting. For some reason, probably new-parent stress, I was feeling particularly connected to skiing that day, and seeing how it all worked together as a lifestyle and soul sport.
What’s wild is Mitch says a few grafs in the article really spoke to him. Who would have known? Back then, Dostie and I weren’t sure anyone even read that stuff. And there was always some question about even keeping the column going. I’m glad we did.
An interesting (and appreciated) thing about Mitch’s video intro is he didn’t mention how controversial my writing was back then with the telemark crowd. For a while I made a habit of dissing telemark skiing, because I felt the gear was crummy and the techniques used to drive wimpy “telemark” boots and skis were unnecessarily difficult and made it hard for people to enter the sport of backcountry ski touring. Along with that, I was constantly riled about the smug attitude of superiority that some telemarkers presented about their ability to “do it on pins.”
Hence, I felt called to be a counterpoint voice, and did so with gusto. The highpoint (or lowpoint?) of those halcyon days was when I wrote about telemark skiing being “backwater.” Through some bad editing decisions that statement was made stronger than I intended, and some of the die-hard tele crowd labeled me a hater (which resulted in humor.)
In realty, my infamous “backwater” statement was intended to compare telemark gear to randonnee ski touring gear (it was a gear review), and a decade ago there WAS a marked difference. The telemark gear of those days was difficult to use and frequently fragile — while the rando AT fixed heel stuff worked pretty well. That’s changed of course, and telemark gear and technique are now nearly on par with randonnee, though any honest practitioner of both disciplines will admit that tele is still slightly more difficult, and not as comfortable for extreme skiing.
At any rate, it was nice of Mitch not to dredge up that old controversy, but rather focus on the commonality we have between all glisse disciplines: That of the ride. Thanks Mitch!
As for tele vs. rando, don’t sweat fans, I’m still rooting for randonnee ski touring!!