Telemark Nationals coming to Copper Mountain
Eron Turnipseed did something last year on telemark skis in front of Vail cinematographer Nat Ross that few alpine skiers could do – he cleaned Copper Mountain’s 100-foot rail.The rail, located in Copper’s terrain park right beside the superpipe, was the bane of skiers all season long.But the 26-year-old Turnipseed was not intimidated, and in front of Ross’ cameras, he slid the entire length of the rail in a sequence featured in the film “CORE: Total Telemark III.”Slowly but surely, pinheads such as Turnipseed are pushing the limits of what can be done in the terrain park on telemark skis, and Ross has filmed it over the last three seasons in his “Total Telemark” videos.Starting Friday, Copper, Ross and Turnipseed will collide again to showcase the growing skill levels of the nations best free-heel skiers with the 2004 U.S. Telemark National Championships.The event will be held at Copper Mountain on Friday and Saturday with a weather make-up day pending for Sunday.The championships, now in its third year, will feature competitions in telecross, slopestyle and big air, along with a superpipe-jam session.Along with the U.S. Telemark Freeskiing Championships, a big-mountain competition celebrating its eighth year in March, these events were created by Ross as a way to promote the sport of telemark skiing.The freeskiing championships will be held March 25-27 in Crested Butte.”We wanted something that represented us,” said Ross, who got his inspiration for the events from the U.S. Freeskiing Open, which was held last weekend in Vail.This is the first year that Nationals are being held at Copper. The last two editions were held in conjunction with the freeskiing championships.”Nationals has grown so much that it needed its own separate competition,” Ross said. “Plus, Copper stepped up to the plate.”Copper Mountain spokesperson Beth Jahnigen added, “Nat Ross approached us wanting to host the event.”Jahnigen said the resort jumped at the opportunity when it learned that it was a pipe- and park-specific event.”It’s important to us to support the freeride telemark movement,” Jahnigen said. “Tele is definitely a growing niche, and having a freeride park and pipe type of focus falls in line with one of our major focuses which is our Catalyst Terrain Park and the whole freeride scene.”For the first time this year, the event will feature separate divisions for juniors, including gender-specific divisions for 12-and-under, 13-15 and 16-18. There will also be men’s and women’s open divisions.Along with Turnipseed, Copper Mountain Freeride Team’s own Ben Dolenc will be taking part. They, in turn, will be joined by Winter Park’s Decker McLean and Boulder’s Max Mancini, among others.”(This event) is amazing,” Dolenc said. “It’s so rad that Nat put this together because without it, we just don’t have a viable resource to see who is pursuing the different parts of the sport.”Dolenc won the slopestyle in 2002 and plans to compete in all every event this weekend. He missed last year’s championships due to his commitment to appear in Warren Miller’s 2003 production, “Journey.””I think it’s going to be awesome,” Dolenc said. “There are tons of kids who have really stepped it up and it’s going to be really impressive to see what they can do.”The events begin on Friday with a telecross competition on Copper’s Vein Glory trail under the High Point Lift, just west of the terrain park.After an evening showing of Ross’s “CORE: Total Telemark III,” the events continue on Saturday with a slopestyle competition in the Catalyst Terrain Park, followed up with a superpipe jam session. In the evening the top-12 finalists from the slopestyle competition will go at it again with a Big Air competition held on the Hollywood Hit – just above the Burning Stones Plaza in the Village at Copper.Richard Chittick can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.