“Feel the heel and ski for real”. We telemark skiers tend to like that one and not just because it rhymes...
When I first tried telemark, I was training as a junior alpine ski racer at the British Ski Academy in Les Houches. It’s always been my dream to have a full time career on the World Cup tour as a professional skier. Little did I realise how close I was to completing that childhood aspiration when I tried telemark for the first time.
It’s a strange feeling, that heel being free when you’ve been accustomed to a fixed foot. I felt floppy, unbalanced, filled with a bizarre confusion and intrigue to fathom this new movement. I remember watching the instructor for the first time; he was fluid, graceful and at one on those skis - something I craved and felt hungry to find.
Following that initial intrigue, I returned home for summer and found some telemark kit. I practised on the indoor slopes with the local club at Hemel Hempstead’s Snow Centre where I racked up hours of concentrated repetition.
One year later, I returned to Les Houches and looked up that same instructor, his name is Seb. I took the cable car to the top of Les Houches, pulled up a seat and waited nervously for my private lesson. Seb endeavoured to explain all about telemark, the racing tour and who’s-who but I had already done my research. One particular chair lift ride, I said “I’d like to be the best in the world and I need your help” - we have been working towards that dream ever since.
Seb is now the head coach of the GB Telemark Ski Team; we spend the winters based in Les Houches and compete throughout Europe and America on the World Cup tour.
Why telemark? It’s like anything else; it’s a route to self connection and expression. For me, when I am skiing, I can experience the moment fully and it provides the perfect balance between stress and boredom. I find my flow.
Thanks to Jasmin Taylor for the words and to Pierre Raphoz for the images.
Jaz is the first Briton to win a World Championship medal in telemark skiing. She is the 2016 British Champion, 2013 French Cup Champion and her best finishing position in World Cup is 2nd place. Based on her World Cup ranking, she is currently #1 for Great Britain and #5 in the world.