Our friend Jaz Taylor joined the British Ski Academy, competing as an alpine skier aged 12. After becoming the youngest British Ski Cross Champion, aged just 15, she made the England Freestyle Ski Team in 2009. It was during this time that she started telemark skiing, competing in her first World Junior Telemark Championship in 2011. In 2013 she became the French Cup Champion and a year later British Champion – and the first ever Briton to podium in the senior World Cup, finishing 2nd. Based on her World Cup ranking she is currently #1 for Great Britain and #7 in the world.
Here’s a snapshot of this season’s racing as part of her extraordinary career.
If you don’t know about telemark skiing, the sport originated in Norway and is considered by many to be the original form of skiing. Racing is very similar to conventional downhill skiing and involves going through a number of gates with red and blue flags. Where telemark varies is the way in which the athlete has the extra challenge of negotiating a large jump half way down the slalom course as well as a cross-country skating section towards the end of the course to really test the competitor’s endurance.
I’ve been a member of the British Telemark Ski Team since 2011, starting telemark age 15 for the first time. I use Les Houches, Chamonix as my winter training base, spending time travelling and competing on the FIS telemark World Cup circuit. During the summer (and intermittently throughout winter) I’m at home in Ipswich where I study and work.
This season has been an interesting one, with clear cut lessons! Ski racing in general asks you to give 100% – mentally, physically, emotionally and logistically! So, you work hard and do all of this because; 1) you enjoy it, 2) you want to be the best, and 3) you want to be the best you can be. Yet, the moment you are in the start gate, the most ‘important’ moment of all, everything has to be for the love of it – to seize the moment and go for it. A very simple concept but one that is difficult to master when there is so much invested. I did master this concept once or twice this season, not consistently yet, but the result (which I was completely unconcerned with on the day) was a World Championship bronze medal. That’s a first in telemark for Great Britain (so I am told anyway).
One of the things I love most about telemark is that the World Cup circuit travels all over the world – I find it a real privilege to experience different cultures, places and people. If I rewind 48 hours, pre World Championship bronze medal, I might be able to explain how I achieved it…
A trip estimated to take 18 hours, did in fact take 51 hours. The plane arrived late to Newark, New Jersey so I was stuck there over night – I took a 1 hour train each way to New York City. I went on an open tour bus (it was -15 degrees so I was very glad of my ski coat) and saw all the sights which was truly awesome. The following morning (after 2 hours sleep) I flew to Denver, Colorado – all seemed to be back on track. The journey was almost complete, we all boarded the final flight and the plane reversed 100 metres, during which time a foot of snow fell. Everyone had to get back off the plane and after losing my passport, my phone dying, running miles with a ski bag, calling my friend to organise alternative transport using a stranger’s phone, kissing the woman that gave me back my originally lost passport, getting on the wrong bus, catching a cold, taking the back roads because every main road is closed due to the snow fall – I finally found the last seat on the bus minutes before the departure. Finally arriving with my American friends, the way I felt to see them, is a moment I will never forget – I’ve never been more pleased to eat a poached egg on toast, take a shower and be in a bed. On that trip I learnt many things – how to sleep anywhere, that anything can happen and seizing the moment is what life is all about. That night in New York had already made my trip; I was concerned about the results and as it turns out, the result was great!
Jaz – respect and congratulations. We’re very proud to support you.