Winter 2018/2019 is in full swing and The M-Equipment team has some exciting new American additions. Makers of the Meidjo binding, The M-Equipment has been changing the game of both backcountry and on-piste telemarking for the past four seasons in their native France and elsewhere.
You know him from the big mountain world, having won the Freeheel Life Cup in Grand
Targhee last season. But beyond that success, Tim Shepard has been shaping telemark youth for the past season in Aspen, Colorado. Originally from New England, he grew up alpine racing and finding the need for speed. When he was 14 he realized he wasn’t getting any faster and switched his focus to nordic racing while learning the art of telemark on the weekends with his dad and uncle. After high school graduation Shepard immediately moved west to Colorado and quickly fell in love with big mountain skiing. Since then he has competed in numerous big mountain competitions and bounced from mountain town to mountain town, including Bozeman, MT and Alta, UT. In Alta, Shepard had the opportunity to work with other progressors of the sport like Josh Madsen of Freeheel Life Industries and J.T. Robinson of Vertical Integration.
Last season Shepard made the move to Aspen with his telemark partner Bridget Gilroy to begin coaching for the Aspen Valley Ski Club and since then, the program has almost doubled in athlete numbers. He has also started coaching for the Colorado Mountain School alongside the legendary Kayo Ogilby where they have 25 athletes. “Coaching is the best way for me to give back to our sport and guarantee a future for young telemark skiers,” Shepard says. When he’s not coaching, you can find him, Bridget, and their dog in the backcountry, or making laps at Aspen in search of fresh pow.
When Cleveland, Ohio comes up in conversation the first thing that comes to mind isn’t usually skiing. It’s quite the opposite for Danny Walton, who grew up skiing tiny hills outside his home that were just big enough for five to six turns. Here he learned how to telemark and the sport brought him all the way to the Sawtooth Mountains in Central Idaho. Walton’s original plan of spending one winter in Ketchum, Idaho quickly turned into 15 amazing seasons. When storms hit you can find him at Sun Valley, disappearing into the white room. Perma-stoked, Walton gained the nickname Irie for his love of reggae music and positive attitude. He sees the rhythm of reggae in the telemark turn and carries that energy into his skiing.
Walton is a true ambassador for the sport and ready to spread his passion.
You’ve probably seen him in the back of the Freeheel Life Telemark Ski Shop mounting countless pairs of skis, but when he’s not working, Alex LeBlanc is shredding Snow Basin and Alta every minute of every day. Born in the shadow of the Wasatch Mountains, LeBlanc spent his childhood alpine skiing, snowboarding and downhill mountain biking in the Wasatch around his home in Ogden. In 2013 he found his way to telemark skiing, even though his uncle had been his inspiration to try the sport at an early age, ripping turns at Snowbird. Every season LeBlanc skis the Wasatch with some of the best telemark skiers around, always seeking to improve his skills. Telemark skiing has given him countless opportunities to travel, each year taking him somewhere new.
LeBlanc has skied in British Columbia and most recently, the French and Swiss Alps. While working at Freeheel Life, he was invited to Europe by Pierre Mouyade, the owner and engineer of The M-Equipment’s Meidjo tele binding. Traveling continues to open his mind about the places he can ski endless powder. When he’s not chasing new lines in the backcountry or spinning laps at a new resort, he’s at Freeheel Life taking care of your skis.
At 19, Miles Fey spends every second out of school on snow. Fey has grown up skiing Crotched Mountain in his home state of New Hampshire and has now begun a new chapter in the Wasatch, attending the University of Utah. His skiing interests are all across the board; trees, bumps, park, race course; you name it, he does it.
He made the switch from alpine skiing in 2014 while ski instructing at Crotched and has never looked back. “I love telemark because it provides me with a new challenge every single day and the Meidjo binding designed by The M-Equipment really encompasses everything good about telemark skiing,” Fey says. Being out west has increased his love for touring and going off piste at the resort. Fey was on the US Telemark Ski Team for two seasons and one day hopes he can return to racing. For now, he’ll keep exploring all Alta has to offer and try his best to stay on track at school.
*Photos courtesy of The M Equipment*