You Can’t Ration the Passion
One of the most rewarding aspects of being an outdoor athlete is sharing your passions/sports with others. Being passionate about a sport is not only being a participant in the sport, but being an ambassador for the sport. It is your job as an ambassador to help people understand your sport and what it is that you love about it. I am not talking about pushing your sport/ethics onto a person, but rather helping them find their own path to your sport by introducing them to it and helping them along their way.
I find that working with a seasoned group of outdoor athletes on a regular basis means I rarely get to share something new and exciting. But when given the opportunity, I relish it. Whether taking a friend climbing for the first time, introducing someone to a new spot, or introducing them to think about an old sport in a new way (for example, Matt on Mount Tecumseh), it is incredibly rewarding to open people’s eyes to the outdoors and different ways to enjoy it. I love giving people a glimpse into my daily life’s activities and showing them what it is like to ‘live the dream.’
With us being entrenched in the winter season, and me personally fighting the ski bug, I have been able to introduce more than one friend to telemark skiing this season. It is strange: most people I have encountered this season have been a little standoffish about telemark skiing, but by about the day’s midpoint you can tell that their interest has been piqued. It starts with some basic questions: Is it hard? What is so different about it from ‘regular skiing?’ Don’t you get tired? I do my best to answer the questions as honestly as I can and watch the wheels turn in the other person’s brain.
After a little more time, the second round of questions come: What size feet do you have? How hard is it to rent telemark gear? Can you get me a set up to try? There is something about telemark skiing that is very appealing. The right skier can make telemarking look both graceful and powerful at the same time; the closest analogy I can think of is like an NFL running back gracefully eluding one tackler followed by him running over another tackler. The other thing is that while telemark skiing is gaining popularity it is still a relative niche sport, especially when compared with alpine skiing and snowboarding. While telemarking has made some strides, those strides only amount to once being the only telemarker at the mountain and now being one of three telemarkers at the mountain.
On Monday Eric, Faye, Nate, and I headed to Loon for a day of riding and skiing. Faye is a relatively new snowboarder and Nate has been recently turned on to tele skiing (despite some initial resistance). With Faye being a newer snowboarder, it proved to be a good chance for Nate and I to bring the telemark gear to Loon. With Nate and I skiing, we would lessen the gap in skill and speed and potentially make for a fun day for everyone. Also, it was an excellent opportunity to bring the tele gear to a bigger mountain, which is something I rarely get the opportunity to do. With most of my friends being excellent skiers and riders, I often leave the ski gear behind and opt to snowboard with them to avoid slowing them down too much.
It was fun to watch Eric’s initial reaction to the skis. At first he was hesitant about them, and I believe he was surprised we brought them. I also think he was a little disappointed to see the skis, feeling that we would slow the day down and he would spend much of the day waiting for us (not entirely untrue) but then it started. Right before lunch the casual questions started getting asked and comments about the skis were being made. I could tell the telemark bug had been passed. Eric is an excellent snowboarder and a good skier, although he rarely skis anymore preferring to board. The last few times we have gone out he has been asking questions about AT gear and expressing interest into doing some ski touring.
Eric was the perfect candidate to introduce tele’ing to. He can ski and snowboard and has been visiting the same mountains for seasons. Telemarking will help to freshen up old trails and mountains for Eric. Learning a new skill also helps bring back the psych and motivation to get out. Furthermore, as someone who enjoys snowboarding it makes a great complimentary activity to snowboarding because mentally it feels very similar (carving turns in snow), but psychically it is very different (using different muscles and motion). After lunch Eric was asking about what size boots I have and can he maybe give my skis a whirl? I told Eric I would see what I could do to procure for him a demo tele rig, and am looking forward to inducting him into the tribe.
I feel really lucky to have met people who have introduced me to great spots and sports in my development as an outdoor athlete, and am getting an amazing amount of satisfaction doing for others what others have done for me.