†I spoke to my old mate Pat Morrow (the
first one to do the Seven Summits-- the real 7 Summits) who was
one of the first early tele pioneers over here in Europe. Pat
came over to the continent and toured with the Karhu team back
in the winter of 83 promoting the North America resurgence and
interest in telemark.
Q: Pat, what year was it when you came to
Europe with the Karhu team, and who was with you?
A: We toured through Europe in the winter
of 83. February and March. Martyn Williams, Brian Finnie, and
Alan Slade. Plus filmmaker Roger Vernon, Bart Robinson, Maureen
Garrity and Laurie (can't remember her last name).
Q: And that's when you came to Verbier, met
John Falkiner and Ace Kvale, hooked them on telemark, left them
skis and other gear, and told them to have at it?
Q: You created a couple of monsters. Did you
see any other telemarkers back in 83?
A: One lad from Kandersteg brought out his
grandfather's wooden tellies and costume, otherwise, we didn't
see anyone else in 30 days of off piste and piste skiing.
Three seasons later, I (Bob) spent my first
winter in the Alps ('87) and
observed only a few telemarkers:
--One guy visiting from Vermont in Innsbruck.
--No telemarkers in St. Anton the two weeks
--No tele-ers in St. Moritz
--No tele-ers in Zermatt (2 weeks)
--A couple of Canadian brothers with skinny
215's in Chamonix
--A British couple living in Tignes who wanted
desperately to buy my first
tele skis--Swallow TR/Alpines--off me. They told me that they
telemark gear anywhere they looked in Europe. I met two others
Tignes/Val d'Isere area. A wonderful California skier, Jack Maranto,
Brit Don Carslaw. Don took me under his wing, fed me pork chops
at night and showed me how to ski Tignes powder during the day.
(And that stale, old,
Brits can't ski" generalization just doesn't fly. There
are many fantastic
British skiers.) Don made the telemark look so easy and graceful
instantly knew I had to hang with him.
--And then there was Verbier which was the
hotbed of European telemark back then. When I say hotbed I mean:
two pretty Swedish schoolteachers working the bent knee; Telluride
madman Craig Hesse (the Hessian was the first really aggressive
telemarker--besides a few I had seen at Jackson Hole--that I
ever saw. Compared to Don, who was more about finesse); the phenomenal
athlete/skier, Tom Day (who was just dabbling in tele--you would
never know it, however); skibum Mike Powers (who is a mountain
guide in the states nowadays); Telluride skier Sean McNamara;
John, Ace, and Marko (Mark Shapiro). So the "hotbed"
was like 10 or so skiers.
And that, to me anyway, was the beauty of
those early Euro tele years.
There were so few of us (and I was just a beginner) that every
day out was
heady, a discovery. Hanging out skiing with these guys who were
envelope on that light equipment, with the only influence being
(and in my case, a well worn, highlighted copy of Lito's book,
Skiing" in my jacket pocket) and the occasional traveling
Italian great Georgio Daidola comes to mind in reference to those
felt like more than just a fringe sport.
The Haute Route was just starting to be explored
with telemark gear back in
the mid 80's, John and Ace working a lot of it. Bela Vadasz along
Prudames, I seem to recall, did an early crossing as well.
But it really all goes back to Borkovek and
the Crested crew; Bard, Carter
and Cox; Bein, Parker and Flores. Steve Barnett. Ned Gillette.
All the way
to Sondre Norheim. Visionaries, all.