Aspen’s Youth Telemark Team Takes Growth of Telemark Into Their Own Hands
Youth telemark teams are popping up in ski towns more than ever before. Teams like AVSC Telemark Team from Aspen, Colorado are one of them and they are determined to keep growing. In an effort to raise some funds for the team, they have just released a series of clothing and made it available to the public. We caught up with coach Nick Cherney to see where the idea came from and what’s next for the team.
Telemark Skier: What inspired the idea of making your own clothing to support the program?
Nick Cherney: We started the AVSC team 3 years ago, and one of the first things I did was work with 22 Designs and Moment skis to get a bunch of kids tele set ups. Access to gear is one of the biggest hurdles to getting kids into the sport. This year we had 14 athletes and the cost of travel and entry fees for competitions was a big obstacle for a lot of families. So I am always looking for ways to make it easier for more kids to join the team and compete if they want to. A few weeks ago, I was on a hut trip and thinking about the recent article in Powder Magazine on the death of telemark. I had a few hours on the skin track and came up with the design and thought maybe it would be a good way to raise money for the team.
Telemark Skier: Who designed the stuff?
Nick Cherney: I worked with a local artist, Dustin Brunson, to turn the idea into some cool art work. His website is dustinbrunson.com
Telemark Skier: How do you think this type of thing can impact not only the kids on the tele team but other telemark skiers?
Nick Cherney: On the surface, I am just hoping to raise some money to help get more kids into the sport. But part of the reason I liked the concept is telemark skiing needs a rebranding. Like most people, I got into tele pre-AT as a way to get into the backcountry. Now you don’t have to use tele, so that isn’t going to pull people in. A lot of kids see tele skiing as something middle age people do on old gear. The tele big mountain teams are changing that perception, but if we want the sport to grow, it has to appeal to younger skiers who see it as something appealing today.
Telemark Skier: What’s your take on telemark in 2017?
Nick Cherney: I think we are bouncing off the lows. Obviously the total number of skiers is lower than it once was, largely due to the growth of AT and the obsession with ultra light backcountry gear. But big mountain skiing is probably the fastest growing part of youth ski programs right now, largely thanks to the IFSA. And so there are a lot of big mountain tele teams popping up, particularly in Colorado. The sport of big mountain is progressing so fast, that it is sometimes hard to see where it can go in terms of upping the skiing while keeping the risks acceptable. Tele skiing is so much harder; I think it is a way to express your ability in a big mountain venue at a higher level than people on alpine gear, without necessarily having to go jump off the biggest cliff. The thing I really like about tele today is that it isn’t a practical choice. To start tele today, you have to be into it for the challenge, for the aesthetics, for the turn. It used to be a lot of people tele’d just to get in the backcountry, but they didn’t necessarily try to perfect the turn. Today, we have kids taking podium spots against alpine skiers in big mountain comps, and tele events are selling out. I am pretty optimistic some of them will find their way to the freeride world tour in the years to come.