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Breaking into tele-skiing: It doesn't suck as bad as you might think

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I don't know why anyone would want to do 10,000 squat thrusts in a day -- guess some people are just gluttons for punishment. 

But that's exactly what I decided to do a few years ago when I decided to learn to telemark at the oft-overlooked California resort of Kirkwood (my personal fave in the Lake Tahoe area). No, my turns didn't look as good as they do in the video above. 

With a borrowed pair of Karhu Hardbodies and some Merrell Super-Comps (that's right, the boot that bridged the gap between leather and plastic), I started squat-thrusting my way down the mountain. Funny thing was, I was actually enjoying myself.

While most of the bad-ass tele-skiers I know have thighs and buns of steel, you don't have to be an Ironman to free your heal and try out this age-old discipline.  Especially now that you get to ski on boots and bindings so rigid you can easily carve out alpine turns when the things get rough.

Plus, there's a fluidity and grace to a well-executed telemark turn. You dip down, drop your knee into the mountain and let gravity carry you through the rest. In fact, if it were any easier, they might call it snowboarding.

Telemarking also allows you easy access in the backcountry. Sure, you can bust out an AT setup -- after all, all you end up doing is flipping a switch and you are in alpine mode -- but there's something about the ease and hard-fought precision that makes teleing the backcountry a true reward. Plus, the chicks dig the buns of steel and the boys drool over a girl who's freed her mind (and her heal).

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