Building the telemark scene
Nye helps lure first World Cup to Schweitzer
- By Lisa Gerber
Angela Coleman, from Sandpoint, raced last season in the 24th annual Selkirk Classic, a USTSA sanctioned telemark event, wearing a silver cape trailing behind her. Funny thing is, she had the fastest time, beating even the women who traveled across the country with their coaches and their sleek race suits.
Telemark racing puts fun first. Just the term “telemark racing” is an oxymoron, since telemarking is all about “freeing the heel and freeing the mind.” How can you make a bunch of powder-loving telemarkers ski a certain line, run gates and, gasp, compete against each other?
|Photo by Ken Barcelou/Zero Gravity Photography
Kevin Nye knows how to do it: great prizes and beer sponsors.
Nye, co-owner of Outdoor Experience, an outdoor retailer in Sandpoint, became hooked on telemarking in 1980. He started the Selkirk Classic in 1982.
This year, on Jan. 20-21, 2006, marks the 25th annual Selkirk Classic. Its success has drawn attention from the U.S. Telemark Ski Association (USTSA), which asked Nye, in cooperation with Schweitzer, to host the U.S. Telemark Nationals in 2004. After producing a fun,professional Nationals event two years in a row, they were approached by FIS (International Ski Federation) to host the World Cup Telemark Finals, on March 10-12, 2006.
The World Cup will bring the world’s top telemark racers to Sandpoint for a three-day event including sprint, giant slalom and classic terrain.
Telemark competitions are unique, as far as ski races go. The giant slalom consists of speed and long radius turns, with a 1-meter jump that racers must clear and land in a telemark stance to stay penalty free.
The classic event combines the technical turning aspects of the giant slalom with the addition of a cross-country skate section and a 360-degree reipjlekke (loop of rope) turn. This event tests both Nordic and alpine ability. The sprint is a shorter version of the classic.
Equally awe inspiring is watching the camaraderie amongst the racers. Suzanne Pattinson splits her time between Schweitzer and Spokane. She has been racing the Selkirk Classic for the past four years. She did it the first time because she heard the prizes were great. She kept coming back because she was having so much fun.
“It was amazing to see the pros climb back up the course after their race and cheer on the open classes as if they were their own teammates,” she said. “I was impressed to see the number 1 guy in the country getting these recreational racers excited about it.”
That’s the goal, explained Nye. Lack of corporate sponsorship in the telemark industry means that even the top racers need to raise their own funds to travel the world and cover their expenses. Just ask Brandon Moon, local resident, Realtor and member of the U.S. Telemark Ski Team, who competed in Europe in one leg of the World Cup in 2005.
“We all want to grow the sport and see more competitors at all the events. The enthusiasm of the U.S. Team is infectious and inspirational,” Nye said.
There is a great effort currently underway to get telemarking accepted as an Olympic event in time for Vancouver in 2010. If that happens, said Nye, many of the racers that will be here for World Cup in March will be the same racers in the Olympics.
Registration and more information can be found at Schweitzer.com or OutdoorExperience.us.