Descender: Why poleless?
Brian Narajowski: There are many reasons why I don't use the poles. I find it, first of all, to be a whole lot more fun, and they were just getting in my way. It is really an amazing experience in fresh powder, that's when you really feel the energy and freedom that you get from finding your exact balance point and letting gravity do the work for you. You begin to see the terrain you are skiing on in a totally different manner, you don't have that crutch to lean on or push with, it's all up to yourself and physics. Poles seem to help in tight technical terrain, but as far as flashing lines with a lot of speed or just all out big mountain riding you don't really use them. Next time you are arching some big fat turns out at high speeds try to take notice to how little the pole is actually used. You use them to start the turn, but in between turns they are either in the air or dragging on the surface of the snow.
D: Is less more?
BN: I don't know if you can really say that teleing without poles is more because you have less, all I've been asking for in the last few years is more. More boot, more binding, more ski and now it's happening. I feel it is up to each individual person to decide for themselves where it is they want to be with their personal riding style. That is the best thing about the tele turn, there are so many different styles.
D: Have you always skied tele?
BN: No I have not always skied tele. I grew up in the Midwestern U.S. skiing moguls. I was very in to bump skiing mainly because that's all we had. When I moved to Utah I skied powder for the first time and that ended my desire to ski moguls. I spent my first two seasons alpine skiing and then I started telemarking to get into the backcountry. I am now entering my fourth season on tele's.
D: Do you drink a lot of eggnog this time of year?
BN: No, never really been into eggnog.
D: Snowbird, Alta, or the backcountry?
BN: On the deep high hazard days, without a doubt Alta. When the goodness ends and it settles out, the backcountry is where it is at. The Wasatch has some very large lines and we tend to have a very stable snowpack.
Tell us about telefreeride. Is there such a thing?
BN: Telefreeride is the term I chose just so I could give it a name or a description. As far as there actually being such a thing I believe there is, but then again I do this everyday. I can't even remember the last time I skied a full day with poles. All I can say is go out and see for yourself.
D: Do you ever worry about breaking your wrists?
BN: I guess not,because I never have even had that thought enter my head until this question.
Photos: Adam Clark
D: When was the first time you laid your poles down?
BN: The very first time was my first seasons on tele's, which was the 96-97 season. A friend of mine, Tim, would do it every now and then to improve balance. So I tried it a few times that season, but it wasn't until the next season that I began to see it as a way of riding everyday in every type of condition. My buddy Drew and myself dropped them one day and we were both hooked.
D: Does telefreeride translate into a helmet, the biggest ski you can find, and the T-Race?
BN: At first it didn't and for some it still does not, but for me it's looking that way. The reason is that I do wear a helmet, I do have the new T-Race and I will be skiing on a pair of the Igneous 200cm fat boards this season. For me it is all about making the biggest turns possible.
D: Do you take telefreeride to the pipe?
No, I just personally don't think the half-pipe looks all that fun, maybe that will change in the future, but I doubt it. I do enjoy kickers every now and then, but I'm more of a backcountry person. Big lines and big turns.
D: How many telefreeriders are there out there?
BN: I can't say for sure, but there's Dave in Alaska, Brian in Montana, myself, Mike, Drew, and Glen in Alta.
D: Is telefreeride the next step or just a lateral step?
BN: I truly believe that it is the next step. It's a very good feeling when it all clicks and you have all your energy centered and you are flying weightless through the powder. I do see more in the future of this sport, adaptation of the twin tip skis used for jibing to enhance the big mountain experience. Basically I would love to see a pair of supper huge fat boards that have twin tips, because I think it would be possible with the free heel to spin to a fakey turn and back in a very efficient manner. Just something to think about in the next few years to come. T-Race's, fat boards with twin tips, no poles, the possibilities are endless.
BN: I would like to thank Descender for getting it going and helping further the revolution. The most important thing is what the turn teaches us, and the way it connects us with our roots.
To check out more of Brian's thoughts, see Gravityfed.com.