Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Babes in the Backcountry Telemark Clinic

To say that Telemark Skiing is difficult is an understatement and not quite correct. Learning telemark is difficult. Doing it once you know how is likely not as hard, but I have the feeling that I may never know. But as I've said before: bad skiing is really great exercise.

On Sat Jan 26 I finally got to do one day of my Babes in the Backcountry Telemark Ski Clinic ("Tele Teaser"), and boy am I tired (well I was then).

To be fair, telemark skills are easier than what they were. Since the skis are more responsive these days, you don't have to bend down as far and then distance in between your feet when you're turning is only about 8-10 inches. That said, flexing your quad and keeping it flexed for an extended period of time while holding your weight and turning is a feat. Now when you're better at it, your form will be better and you'll be going faster so you won't have to hold the tele turn position for so long.

The instructors were great and Claire, the one I spent the most time with, actually skied backwards right in front of me holding my skis in position while I struggled with a turn. The thing that make it really hard was that she took my poles away and my confidence went along with them. I nearly played the MS card saying that I had to have them for balance, but if I'm claiming (correctly I think) that my MS is a-symptomatic, then I wasn't going to go there. I use the poles mainly to tell my leg to tighten for a turn.

After lunch I let them go back to the intermediate slope and I went and got my poles and spent more time on the beginner slope ("Meadow") which at Alpine Meadows is actually not that great since it slopes sideways, but for tele training it's actually fine since to make it work you have to traverse.. I probably could have done the intermediate slope ("Hotwheels") again, but I was pretty trashed so refrained.

So I've been pondering Tele vs Alpine styles and and rethinking my goals. Or more correctly reminding myself what my goals are. What do I want out of this anyway?
  • I would love to learn Tele and intend to do so but I think I want more success (and less frustration) with skiing initially and continuing to improve in Alpine is probably an easier way to do it.
  • My main goal is to be able to safely backcountry ski, and Randonee is Alpine Touring, so the quickest way to that is likely to get better at Alpine and ski Randonee and then learn Tele on the side
The bummer is that this would mean more equipment but the first steps are to continue on Alpine and then decide later about Randonee.

I also need to decide how to spend that day that Babe in the Backcountry owes me. The most obvious is to take the Tele Tuneup at Sugarbowl in Feb. I could bring my alpine skis as well so if/when I got tired, I could switch to alpine.

The other option is to either go with them to Shasta or go on a hut trip, but I'm pretty much already committed to Shasta during the week after their trip so I think the Tele day is winning.

No comments: