Make Your (Tele)Mark
One of the region’s biggest events for cross-country downhill
skiers returns to Beech Mountain this weekend.
It’s the High Country Nordic Association’s third annual Tele-Fest, offering downhill Nordic skiers a chance to celebrate the Telemark turn at Beech Mountain Resort Saturday, Jan. 12.
The Telemark is a dipping, dance-like turn that Nordic skiers can execute because only their toe is attached to the ski binding.
Now in its third year, the High Country event has become a regionally celebrated opportunity for “tele-ski” enthusiasts to meet, ski together, improve their skills and win prizes from a long list of outdoor gear suppliers.
The event runs from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with registration opening at 8 a.m. in Beech’s View Haus, where the event will be based. The cost is $50 and includes a lift ticket, 2013 event T-shirt, HCNA decal and entry in various raffles, including a poker run.
For the poker run, each skier gets a random playing card after each run — even if they ski the easiest beginner slope. The winners of the “poker hands” and raffles take home national name-brand outdoor gear prizes. The fee for skiers who already own a season ski pass is $15 and includes a shirt, decal and prize entry.
Tele-Festers can start the weekend early by pre-registering at Footsloggers in downtown Boone on Friday, Jan. 11, from 6 to 8 p.m. meaning pre-registrants need only pick up their lift ticket and hit the slopes come Saturday morning. As for the pre-registration event, Footsloggers will remain open for those hoping to purchase last-minute essentials, while also serving some beer samplings from event sponsor Blowing Rock Ale.
And speaking of essentials, the Saturday Tele-Fest will feature a gear swap for Telemark skis, boots, poles and other equipment, as well as a gear share, where organizers hope to “get as many people on the snow in borrowed gear as we can,” said High Country Nordic Association’s Russel Hiatt. “We’re encouraging everyone with gear they’d be willing to lend, particularly boots, to please bring them.”
The High Country Nordic Association (HCNA) is dedicated and growing faction of skiers who want to promote awareness and practice of Nordic skiing in western North Carolina.
In a place where alpine, or downhill skiing, is the norm, Nordic skiers are in the minority. Nordic skiing requires the use of skis where the boot is attached to the ski only at the toe. Backcountry, cross-country and Telemark are considered Nordic skiing styles.
Two winters of considerable snow brought many Nordic skiers to area locales, such as Roan Mountain and Moses Cone Park, in 2009 and 2010. Finding themselves skiing in the same circles, they came together as a collective and formed the High Country Nordic Association in 2010.
Tele-Fest, conceived in 2011, draws its name from Telemark, which Nordic skiing expert Randy Johnson said is the oldest turn in skiing, invented in Norway in the 1800s. At a time when people were using their skis as a mode of transportation, a way “to cross the country,” they needed a way to shift their skis with a powerful turn. Hence, the Telemark developed.
“Instead of turning with both skis sitting beside each other, a Telemark turn is when you slide one foot forward and by tilting your knee, the front ski carves the turn and the back ski follows along behind it,” Johnson said in a previous interview. “Your heel is up on the back ski.”
Johnson, who has been Telemark skiing since the 1970s, considers it to be less restrictive and more athletically demanding than the more recent invention of alpine skiing.
“Downhill skis, you’re pretty much locked in to going downhill,” he said. “You can’t walk, your ski bindings, your boots don’t come up. You’re locked into your skis, and you’re shuffling along.”
Tele-Fest offers interested skiers an opportunity to see what Telemarking and cross-country skiing is all about, he said, with experienced Telemark skiers providing lessons for others of all skills all throughout the day.
“People who cross-country ski are a tight-knit community,” he said. “It’s a group of passionate skiers. We’re trying to turn this into a little bit of a camaraderie event, as well.”
For more information, visit the group on Facebook (type “High Country Nordic Association” into the search field).