A Personal Essay Of Growing Up Telemark Style.
by Nina Mangini
My parents met telemark ski racing. My mom brought home silver and bronze from the 1989 World Telemark Championships in St. Anton, Austria, while my dad proudly placed 150th. Dad was the loud, brightly colored spandex-wearing socialite, that organized the post-race backcountry adventures and parties. My mom was the unbeatable European immigrant with the accent. It was trouble from the time my parents first met. They both loved telemark skiing, powder, and parties. This no doubt led to knees being dropped and soon enough I was conceived.
I was given my first real pair of skis at the age of two. And I must say I proudly scaled Killington Mountain top to bottom, milk bottle in hand, that same year. But at age 7 the trouble began. This is when I received my first pair of hand-mounted tele skis. Although I had a short stint which I call my ‘adolescence on alpine gear’, I soon became bored of it and to my parents’ delight became forever hooked on my beloved telemark.
As you can imagine, skiing is what we do as a family. Instead of church, Sundays consist of early wake up calls, Bob Marley or G-love blasting on the stereo, bagels to go, and we are off. You can find us worshiping the fresh flakes on our hand-groomed areas in the Killington backcountry. Hours of skinning precede the afternoon delight of powder descents. This is usually while my dad pushes me on the skin up, explaining “you gotta earn your powder girl,” and of course on the way down racing me to the freshies. If it’s spring, we may be getting spanked as we ascend the steep gullies and ravines to reach Mt. Washington. This was a mountain I first scaled up to the summit at age 12. You may also find us scraping across freshly groomed death cookies on the front side of Killington. Although the East can be icy, I adore it.
She would never say it herself, but mom is a local legend. Her signature short, tight, and consistently low hop-turns allow her to easily master any terrain. This includes the bumps, corn, groomers, trees, slush, or mud. You will see her head bobbing at 57 turns a minute, attracting the attention of
every young ski jibber around. My childhood has been riddled with hoots, hollers, questions and compliments, all directed at my mother. This goes on while I usually stand next to her, blatantly ignored.
After 17 years of subliminal messaging and acute brainwashing, I may have come close to mastering my mom’s turn. We even had a recent conversation, about being “too low” in our tele-stance. And now that my turn looks more like my Mom’s, I have even been included in some of the most recent compliments directed towards the “tele duo,” finally! Although I have moved on from the duct tape gear wearing, bark worshipping, and skinning for anything, type of skier, my Mom and I still share our love for the sport more than ever.
Lately my parents have joked about my new obsession with “switch-tele”, or mock the Dub Step blasting from my headphones, but I guess you could say we learn from each other. There is still nothing better than ripping down the hill, figure eighting fresh baked corn with your mom or dad by your side and getting in the groove. As my dad likes to say, “If it wasn’t for telemark skiing you probably wouldn’t be here.”