Earning your turns | VailDaily.com

Earning your turns

Veronica Whitney

Vail Daily/Coreen SappChristian Avignon fits Jeff Cabot with a pair of telemark skis before the start of this year's first Beaver Creek Telemark Workshop, Dec 14. Cabot, a longtime alpine skier, was trying telemarking for the first time.

“A lot of my friends are doing it,” says Jeff Cabot, a 41-year-old dentist from Edwards.

“I’m learning to tele so I can go to the backcountry,” says Kevin Mayer, 23, of Eagle-Vail.

“I changed to telemarking for the challenge and excitement,” says Hope Yasbin, 30 of Boulder.

No matter if you want to telemark for the looks, for the workout or the fun – as with any sport – it’s a good idea to get some lessons.

“Feel your stomach shuffling, not just your feet,” says Beaver Creek telemark instructor Terrill Samura to a group of intermediate telemark skiers at the season’s first coed workshop at Beaver Creek, Dec. 14. “Do you ski with your mind or your feet? Put your mind in your feet and stomach.”

With telemarking growing in popularity some wonder if the older form of skiing is the new snowboarding.

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“In Europe, they tell me they’re starting people on teles,” Samura says.

“Telemark skiing has really been catching on locally,” adds Pat Hammon,

Beaver Creek Nordic Center supervisor. “By providing a positive learning

environment for beginners as well as advanced telemark skiers, we see

plenty of smiles and growth among our participants.”

More than 40 people converged on the Nordic Center for the first telemark workshop. The next one is Jan. 10 in Vail.

The Vail/Beaver Creek Telemark Workshop Series is taught by experienced Beaver Creek Ski School and Vail Ski School instructors, while the kids’ workshops feature lead instruction from “Tele Ned,” an accredited kids’ instructor who specializes in teaching children and teens the free-heeling discipline.

Come free your heels

The day begins at the Beaver Creek Nordic Center, where people who don’t own equipment line up to get outfitted.

“You want to have a decent tension in the binding,” Deb Nejamin, an assistant at the Nordic Center, tells a beginner. “As the binding flexes, if it’s lose, you can pull out.”

This will be Cabot’s first time on telemark skis and he can’t hide a smile even as he patiently waits for his turn.

“It looks like fun and a good workout,” Cabot says.

The group gets divided in three: beginners – the largest group, intermediate and expert.

“I’m very excited,” says 30-year-old beginner Victoria Fox while she shuffles her skis around. “I really want to learn how to turn, but I’m scared not to be able to do it.” Later in the day, Fox and the rest of the beginners were handling the greens at the top of the mountain.

“Today is an excellent day to learn,” says instructor Dorothy Howard, who will take over an intermediate group.

The goals for the different levels, Howard says, are:

– Beginners: Learn to get comfortable with the new equipment; learn how to turn; feel comfortable skiing greens and have fun.

“The difficulty at this level is to get used to the fact that the heel comes up,” Howard says.

– Intermediate: Break away from alpine technique; break bad habits; make better transition between turns; get comfortable in steeper terrain and get ready for black runs.

“At this point, it’s difficult to break bad habits,” Howard says. “People still try to hold on to the alpine position.”

– Expert: Improve technique in double black diamonds and in bumps.

“The difficulty here is to keep up with them!” Howard laughs.

Howard, whose is from Glenwood Springs, says telemark and snowboarding techniques are similar.

“You’re doing toe turns and have your body countered,” she says. “The whole attitude is the same as in snowboarding. An easy going attitude. Not afraid of earning turns.”

Increasing skills

Yasbin, who started telemarking two years ago, said she came from Boulder to improve her skills.

“I have taken clinics before and they are pretty helpful,” she says during a quick morning stop. “It gets harder when it gets steeper.”

Although he has telemarked four times, this is Mayer’s first clinic.

“It’s helping me with technical pointers,” he says. “I’m trying to get better.”

Mayer says he likes telemarking better than skiing because it’s a different sensation.

“You can get more style with tele-skis,” he says.

Samura, who before swapping to telemark instruction was an alpine ski instructor for 20 years, says not only locals are falling for the free heels.

“Tourists are asking about it, too,” he says.

Loren Dumont, 37, of Edwards, smiles as he tries the latest drill: Just bending his right leg forward so he can turn both ways.

“I didn’t know you can turn left or right just balancing,” he says taking off down the hill.

Once the clinic is over, around 3 p.m., Greg Goforth, 24, of Eagle-Vail says he feels more confident making tighter turns and controlling speed. For Susan Terbush, 33, of Edwards, the biggest challenge is to abandon the alpine technique.

“The shuffling was helpful,” she says

Workshop Series Schedule

– Jan. 10 – Women’s workshop at Golden Peak, Vail

– Jan. 24 – Coed workshop at Beaver Creek

– Jan. 25 – Kids’ workshop at Beaver Creek

– Feb. 7 – Women’s workshop at Beaver Creek

– Feb. 22 – Coed workshop at Golden Peak, Vail

– Feb. 29 – Kids’ workshop at Beaver Creek

– March 6 – Coed workshop at Golden Peak, Vail

For information on the workshops or general telemark instruction,

call the Beaver Creek Nordic Center at 845-5313.

On the Web: http://www.beavercreek.com

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at vwhitney@vaildaily.com.