The International Ski Federation (FIS) has formally proposed that the International Olympic Committee include telemark racing in the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022. FIS would like to see the parallel sprint and the mixed-gender team parallel sprint included in the games.
“A new day, a new dawn,” said Andrew Clarke, chairman of the FIS Telemark committee and founder of the British Telemark Association, who pushed for the inclusion. “A defining day for FIS Telemark. A giant leap in the right direction.”
Jasmin Taylor, the U.K.’s top bent-knee shredder, told PlanetSki, “It’s incredible that telemark could now really reach the Olympic platform. This has been my lifelong dream and now it could be a reality. This is a huge step for the sport and I’m excited to see where we will move next.”
The odds seem long; this effort comes a year after Powder magazine declared, “Telemark skiing is dead.”
“Sales have dropped, growth has stalled, there is no new gear of note, fewer young tele skiers, and many of the best and staunchest free-heelers have switched to alpine or AT gear,” Hans Ludwig wrote in the February 2017 issue. “The passion for dropping a knee lives on with many skiers, but the state of tele gear tells the tale: There’s no tele-specific ski manufacturing and only a few boot and binding manufacturers. Nobody is putting real money into product development, and most tele skiers consider the available gear flawed–heavy, not as practical as AT gear for touring, and prone to breakage, among other complaints. The introduction of the Fritschi touring binding around ’98 and then viable Dynafit-compatible AT boots in 2010 or so killed telemarking’s efficiency advantage in the backcountry for good. There are still a few thousand telemarkers in America, but that number probably won’t ever increase.”
Megan Michelson, former winner of the World Telemark Freeskiing Championships, told Powder, “The future of tele skiing is what monoboarding is now.”
Photo via FIS Telemark