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Getting Deep in the Dolomites

Skiing in Italy has historically been all about racing. But now, thanks to a growing group of big mountain and telemark skiers, it’s starting to look a little different. We sent an editor to the Dolomites to see how a big mountain comp goes down, Italian style.

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Moena, Italy. Tomorrow, eighty brightly dressed skier and snowboarders—freeriders as they’re typecast in Italy—will line up to pound 2,500 vertical…

Moena, Italy. Tomorrow, eighty brightly dressed skier and snowboarders—freeriders as they’re typecast in Italy—will line up to pound 2,500 vertical feet of avy debris and spring cement down the Col de Margherita in the Scufoneda Freeride Cup. But tonight, the head of snow safety for the event is dancing in his underwear and knee pads, athletes are pouring grappa down their throats, and, even though it’s 11 p.m., almost no one has taken off their ski boots. This is Scufoneda, northern Italy’s weeklong ode to telemarking, big mountain skiing, and the general debauchery that goes along with it.

The event started in 1997 when a group of local skiers started learning the at-that-time foreign sport of telemarking. They dubbed themselves the…

The event started in 1997 when a group of local skiers started learning the at-that-time foreign sport of telemarking. They dubbed themselves the Scufons del Cogo (not so literally , the heroes of telemark), and began meeting every March to spread the gospel of freeskiing and tele turns. They got the police chief on board, so they didn’t have to worry about getting arrested. They started a big mountain comp. Four years ago, Polartec signed on as a sponsor and it became a national, and even international, event.

Now, Scufoneda is still telemark focused, but it’s morphed into a week of off-piste skiing, drinking, and celebrating the start of freeride culture in the Dolomites. It’s new-school, Italian style.

Skiing in Italy is mayhem at its most organized: tourists hook inconsistent groomer turns directly into one another, and the battle for tram space is…

Skiing in Italy is mayhem at its most organized: tourists hook inconsistent groomer turns directly into one another, and the battle for tram space is fiercer than it is in Jackson. But skiers rarely venture off of marked, groomed runs, and pillow lines that would get pillaged in a second in the U.S. stay untouched. But skiers across Europe are starting to push past the piste, and big mountain skiing is becoming more of a big deal.

Scufoneda celebrates just that, a break with the tight-pants, GS-turning, race-ready old school and a move toward something different, and more fun.

The marquee event of the week is the Freeride Cup, one of the only big mountain competitions in the country. While spectators drank wine out of tiny…

The marquee event of the week is the Freeride Cup, one of the only big mountain competitions in the country. While spectators drank wine out of tiny glasses, and a helicopter circled overhead, skittled-out freeriders navigated the long and cliff-riddled Col de Margherita.

This year, in a blow to the Scufons, Americans grabbed the top four spots in the telemark division. But, in keeping with the local customs, the Italians represented strongly in the alpine department and in the après division.

 

-Heather Hansman