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Helicopters? Misty 720s? Back flips? These tricks are hard enough to pull off to begin with, but how about trying them on twin-tip telemark skis? And, oh yeah, how about doing them when you’re 15?
Kids from Aspen’s Colorado Rocky Mountain School, the nation’s only high school telemark team, tear it up on pins all winter long. It seems every up-and-coming telemarker these days has something to do with the Rocky Mountain School. Graduates Max Mancini, Robby McMahon, Shay Williams, and Cody Smith have all made appearances in Josh “Bones” Murphy’s telemark ski flicks, Unparalleled and Unparalleled II: Free World. When coach Kayo Ogilby made the switch from running gates to freestyle telemarking five years ago, his job was about teaching nine kids how to pull spread eagles without jamming their tips up their noses. Now it’s about teaching 24 kids how to pull huge air with grace, intelligence, and lots of style.
Ogilby makes sure to maintain the roots of telemarking by getting the team into the backcountry to balance out terrain park time. And the community feel of the ski world’s oldest new sport is not forgotten when the kids compete — at events like Red Bull’s Mogul Mania and any Colorado bump competition they can find. “What I like about telemarking is that wherever we go, we know people and they know us,” says Ogilby. “And to me, skiing on twin-tips — whether teles or alpines — adds a huge new dimension to skiing. Any kid who’s freeskiing should be on them.”
It’s hard to argue with a guy who just landed a crossed-up 720. (Why isn’t everybody’s ski coach like that?)