Truth be told, I’m a summer girl who just happens to love to ski. The coldest parts of winter wreak a little havoc with me.

But then the sun peeks through.

This week’s golden rays and bluebird skies have steeled me for the months of winter still to come.  The air hasn’t turned spring warm yet; it’s barely nudging above freezing. That’s just right for February, since we have a lot more ski season to enjoy. This is sun for the winter soul. And after such a long streak of powder, it’s awfully fun to get out and scream down finely tuned groomers for a few days.

Snowpack in the Flat Tops measured at 138% of average last week. The frosty view of those peaks from Lights Out is 100% fantastic.

The softest corduroy started out lower mountain this morning. See Me was worth an extra lap. The shade is moving its way off the mountain and releasing a tad bit of crispiness off the groom with every ray of sun that hits the slopes. High Noon to Westside. Sunset to Moonlight. Storm Peak Face, Rainbow over to Vagabond, Betwixt, Between, Lower Concentration … ultra smooth sailing all the way down.

This was a morning to revel in long, carving telmark turns with no one in my way.

Three skiers lectured me in the past month about how they think telemark skiing is dead. They say no one does the turn anyways. It’s too much work. Bla bla bla. I think they’re wrong, so I’m dedicating my Valentine’s weekend post to showering my love on the tele turn.

The bindings that set you free. (Or your heel, at least.)

I telemark because I love the turn. I love the sweep and the carve of it. I love the change of elevation, the deep shots of pow when you’re low, the way my feet never get cold because they’re flexing all day long. I learned the tele turn when gear was a lot less fancy, a lot more scrappy — when you had to make the deep knee bend or risk infamous “egg beater” tumbles. Skis were skinny and long. Bindings were three-pins. Boots were leather. It made the backcountry accessible, but it also made skiing all over the resort extra fun.

No, I’m not some ancient relic. That’s just how fast telemark ski gear changed over the past 20 years. The tele turn stole my heart on day one. It’s pretty. It’s elegant. It’s a thigh-burning workout. Once I tasted it, I never looked back.

Hefty new tele gear makes it easy to stand up and take Alpine turns — maybe even skip the free heel all day long. If you’re new to this, it takes a little time and devotion (and maybe a little agony) to feel the free heel love.  These perfectly groomed days are the perfect conditions to hone your magical free-heeling skills. When the next powder day arrives and you’re getting twice the face shots, you’ll be glad you did.

Wishing you all the love of a tele turn this weekend. Also, maybe a romantic dinner under the stars at Hazie’s or Ragnar’s, a fat box of dark chocolates and a smooch under the fireworks.

Jennie Lay, Telemark skier

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