Jasper
Marmot Basin

Zip, knee, toe: telemark skiing at Marmot Basin

A change of pace can re-invent your local mountain

Telemarking at Marmot Basin, Alberta

The ever-experienced Doc Pow, veteran of skiing and snowboarding alike, was a new as the day he was born while on a pair of telemarks.
Photo by Rick MacDonnell

DOC POW

JASPER, ALTA. — In life you are given opportunities that can make you shine, and today was a day that was full of them. Today, I learned a new snow sport, and to me, there is nothing better than that. 

Marmot Basin, located in Jasper, Alberta is one a perfect place to pick up a new snow sport. There's plenty of gentle, forgiving terrain; just what any beginner could ask for. 

Telemark skiing had been on my list for nearly the last decade, ever since I went heli-skiing and was in awe of how well my buddy, Dan Markham, could get around on a pair of “tellys” — as they’ve been known to be called — with no heels attached.  

I heard horror stories about telemark skiing. All who try will fail miserably on day one. You'll fall flat on your face. Without the heel attached to the skis, I thought there would be no way I would be able to make the turns, especially considering that I am a snowboarder who isn’t used to skis, poles and hard boots in the first place. But under the watchful eye of instructor Sean MacCarron I was over my fears and onto the slopes in no time. 

Not just for the backcountry

Telemarking is traditionally used in the backcountry, but over the past few years the art has picked up speed, by folks like me, who are die-hard snow fans looking to mix up their routine. “Telemark skiing is a direct extension of walking. It's a natural progression and if it’s done right, you won't even know you're doing it,” said MacCarron.  

Much similar to snowboarding, I find that telemark skiing is a lot about balance and weight transfer, shifting from one ski to the other as opposed to the edge-to-edge motion of a board. Having been a downhill skier for many years before becoming a snowboarder, I had a few habits I had to lose. As opposed to the traditional ski stance of picking up the ski to the other, telemark asks that you slide from one to the other.  

“Count as you slide that back foot forward and say it out loud, 'one, two, three,' keeping your knee over your foot,” said MacCarron as I made the first run of the day off the Schoolhouse T-Bar.

Speaking of the alignment necessary to keep one's balance, the mantra of the day quickly became "zip, knee, toe," meaning that your zipper should be directly over your knee, which should be directly over your toes.   

A whole new sense of adventure

Telemarking at Marmot Basin, Alberta

Instructor extraordinaire Sean MacCarron puts Doc Pow through the paces.
Photo by Rick MacDonnell

Are you a skier? Try snowboarding. If you are a snowboarder, why not give telemark skiing a try? Mixing it up can put a whole new sense of adventure into your day. 

For me, my experience re-invented Marmot. After years of riding the mountain and not thinking anything of it, those same blue runs were making me think about how I was going to navigate my way safely back to the bar for that much needed bevy at the end of the day. Changing your style also changes your perspective, which is never a bad thing.  

If you're looking for a telemark hook-up in Jasper, or if you're in search of any gear rentals or merchandise, be sure to swing in to Gravity Gear on Patricia Street. They had me lined up with some new gear in no time and out the door ready to tackle those double greens on new telemark skis! Once you’re geared up, ski over to Marmot Basin's ski school where they’ll get you dialed in for a day of adventure.

For more stories and detail on Jasper check out our SnowSeekers' destination page.

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