CRESTED BUTTE, CO
- The 9th Annual U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Telemark Championships is set for March 24 - 26, 2005. Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR), the original "re-birthplace" of the telemark turn, is always the perfect locale to host this unique event.
This year's big mountain activities include: Registration and an evening welcome reception and fajita dinner on Thursday, March 24; a day of qualifying runs with results posted at an aprËs ski gathering on Friday, March 25; competition finals followed by an awards party and prime rib dinner on Saturday, March 26. Day one of the event will take place on Headwall, a steep face with a 650-foot vertical drop over a 43-degree average slope. The venue for the final day of competition will be decided the night before, depending on snow conditions.
Participants should plan on spending Sunday in Crested Butte, as the U.S Extreme Freeskiing Telemark Championships will end the day before the 31st Annual Al Johnson Memorial Uphill/Downhill Telemark Ski Race takes place on Sunday, March 27. Competitors climb up the North Face access road and ski down, as quickly as possible through Hard Slab, Old Pro and the Last Steep, finishing on East River's Black Eagle run. Bring your skins and a costume and enjoy a race that's more about fun than it is about competition.
Nat Ross, founder of the Telemark Freeskiing national competition at Arapahoe Basin, Colorado, said, "Holding the event in Crested Butte is perfect; it's right where it belongs. It (telemark skiing) is a part of the culture of Crested Butte and it has never left. And all the locals rip!" Ross currently heads up Tough Guy Productions, a company out of Vail that makes movies about telemark skiing and mountain biking. Ross is a professional nordic skier and mountain bike racer, currently competing nationally and internationally in both disciplines.
Head judge Ross Matlock, a professional CB Mountain School telemark and alpine ski instructor who helped Ross organize the first event at Arapahoe Basin, said, "They (CBMR) always put on a first-rate event and it only seems natural to continue to hold this event in Crested Butte. We have the terrain and the competitors."
Jeff Moffett, the CBMR event coordinator and the individual responsible for bringing the first telemark championships to Crested Butte in 2001, continues to be the integral force in keeping the event right here in Crested Butte. "We feel fortunate to be able to annually host the Telemark Freeskiing Championships," Moffett said. "I think we deserve to be hosting the championships and this year's snow conditions will make it better than ever."
Heather Paul, a two-time National Telemark Skiing Champion, veteran of ESPN's Winter X Games, entrepreneur and former Crested Butte resident, will be on site hosting one of her Ultimate Groove telemark camps for women in addition to catching up with all of her Crested Butte friends.
"I was excited when I heard Crested Butte was holding the comp again -- I think Crested Butte is the place for it," Paul said. "I know the competitors last year were bowled over at how well everything was set up and how it was run, as well as being blown away by the steeps. It has to stay in CB."
Paul, who travels around the country providing clinics to all levels of telemark skiers, credits her time living in the Butte with taking her own skills to the next level. "To the point where, any time I traveled to another resort, I was never intimidated by anything. It was like, 'Yeah, baby, I can rip it up here,' " she said.
Paul was the National Telemark Skiing Champion in 1996 and 1997 and held the World Slalom title in 1995. For information on Crested Butte's Ultimate Groove clinic on Thursday, March 24, contact Heather Talbot Peterson at 970-349-1427 or visit them at ultimategrooves.com. CB Mountain Schools' coaching representative during the clinic will be none other than Ross Matlock!
Leslie Ross,, another telemark diva, former event champion and current owner/director of Babes in the Backcountry, will be holding a two-day telemark clinic for women, Friday and Saturday, March 25-26. The clinic will include a one-day introductory session of backcountry skills and a half-day "steeps" clinic. For more information contact Leslie at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit babesinthebackcountry.com.
Though he is not yet sure that he will be able to make it for the competition, Rick Borkovec, the former Crested Butte ski patrolman who is the "godfather" to the modern telemark turn after re-discovering it back in the early 1970s said, "The event is great; it's been a privilege to have been a part of it (telemark skiing itself) from the beginning. It is just amazing to see how far it has evolved from those early beginnings. I just did it for my own enjoyment. I just did it for friends and to be able to get into the backcountry."
But Borkovec was quick to add that telemark skis and specifically having a free heel was an advantage when it came to avalanche control while he was a ski patrolman at Crested Butte in the early '70s. "When the weather was bad and we couldn't use the howitzer to control the Headwall, we had to go up there and throw hand charges," he said. "So we had to hike up from the bottom of the Silver Queen (where it used to be) and it just took forever in alpine gear. Fellow patrolman Rob Hunker and I were probably the first to use our tele gear to make the hike up to the Headwall and it cut the time in half to get the mountain controlled."
With some of the best snow in Colorado this season, the snow conditions should be superb for the athletes competing in Crested Butte's Extreme Limits terrain, a natural location for this competition. "The 'buzz' about the event and support we've received is truly a tribute to the hard work and tenacity put in by the core group of event coordinators over the last four years. We continue to work on attracting major cash sponsors as we have to the SAAB U.S. Extreme Freeskiing alpine event in order to award more prize money to the athletes," said Gina Kroft, CBMR's marketing and sales vice president.
The Crested Butte ski area and event sponsors continue to lead the pack in supporting this unique event and growing sport. There is $19,000 in cash and prizes, the largest purse in telemark freeskiing competition. The top finishers in both the men's and women's open division, ages 18 and over, take home $1,200 each in addition to a Club Med, Total All Inclusive(tm) four-day vacation for two. A Crested Butte tradition has always awarded equal cash and prizes to female and male competitors.
Even though there is a relatively large sum of money at stake, many of the competitors enter this prestigious event to showcase their skills to their peers and the premiere-judging panel of current and former telemark freeskiing heroes.
The resort will offer special discounts on clinics and telemark workshops through CB Mountain Schools and half price rentals from their brand new K2 telemark demo fleet during the event. The resort is an exclusive K2 telemark demo center.
Top honors last year went to two-time champion Dylan Crossman of Alta, Utah, and Sarah Light of Whitefish, Montana, who currently resides in Fernie, British Columbia. Log on to skicb.com and click on Adventure Scene for last year's results and current registration information.