We stood atop Smooth Sailing, an excellent Blue run at Nub’s Nob in Harbor Springs, my student and I, our tele tips poised on the edge. An excellent alpine skier and snowboarder is he, yet we were waiting, seeking out the best looking line. We hemmed, we hawed, we talked about weighting the skis and staying low in the tele turn all the way through; then, after much fidgeting, we plunged.
Telemarking is about two things, in my simple mind: grace and power. It is also, in the midwest, about re-learning the joy of skiing. Many of us have been skiing the slopes between Traverse City and Harbor Springs all our lives and are in the process of re-learning the bunny slopes with our kids. We are good skiers who can handle most any slope around. Until we take the rear part of the binding away. Look out.
Mostly gone are the questions and jokes – “Yer’ binding is busted!”, “Hey, did you know your binding is busted?”, and my favorite, “Hey man, your binding is busted!”. Oh man, those crazy folks. What remains is the incredible feeling of learning a new sport – one that slows us down a bit, focuses our attention, inserts a bit of excitement into the regular ski day. And it doesn’t really hurt that much. We all fall. I have been teleing for 25 years and I still fall at least once a day. Could be my technique, sure, but I prefer to think it is my striving to learn and push the limits. On Smooth Sailing.
We began our descent of the wild frontier, perfectly groomed and sparkling under the sunny sky, but wild nonetheless for someone new to telemarking. We turned, we slid, we turned some more; and we carved a couple really well. On the chair ride up, we eyed Smokey, a Black Diamond run. “Maybe next time.”
Josh and Molly Baker own The Outfitter in Harbor Springs