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Carl Skoog Photo

Leslie Ross in Valdez, Alaska

Leslie Ross Interview

Descender: How did you get started Teleriding?

Leslie Ross: At 21, I headed out to Wyoming for a 2 week winter camping trip with NOLS. I had never even cross country skied before let alone tele skied. With the thermometer reading minus 5, we headed to Targhee for my first day on Telemark skis. After 2 weeks winter camping at -30, I was hooked.

D: Why did you start the "Babes in the Backcountry" program?

LR: What motivated me to start the Babes in the Backcountry was a void I felt in regards to education in the backcountry skiing community. On a all women hut trip in March of 96, I noticed that none of these top notch resort riders wanted to go out for a ski. I sensed this lack of desire was due to little or no education or confidence in their skills. I wanted to design a clinic for women which was not only educational and informative, but hands on, where questions are always encouraged. I wanted to incorporate the fun, relaxing atmosphere of a hut trip experience as the indoor classroom with the backcountry for field work. As a lay person when it comes to technology, I wanted to help shorten the learning curve for other women by designing a clinic where they could find info about backcountry products, and the magazines that talk about the backcountry experience, without spending years in the sport to understand what was going on.

LR: Babe's is going off! So many women are inquiring about the program. It's exciting to see. The first year the waiting list was 3 times the size of the numbers in one clinic. We now have a web site that was donated by Tom and Lou Dawson. In 1997, Babes started off with one clinic, and has expanded to 4 clinics for 2000. Next year, Babes will also have an on-piste Telemark Clinic and off piste Ski Mountaineering Workshop. (see

D: Can you tell us about the kids tele program? Watching the little ones rip tele turns must put a smile on your face.

LR: The Kids. Kids ripping on teles puts a smile on my face every time. They are the future of Telemark Skiing. Kids rip and they aren't afraid to be creative on their skis and get air. I get such a charge out of teaching these little free heelers because they are so into it. It's the closest thing I have come to being a proud mom. Lizzie, an 8 year old girl I taught last winter, brought tears to my eyes when she called me her hero, while giving me a big hug in her Tele Tubby suit (Bump Buffet costume). I can't wait for these little rippers to start blowing us all away.

D: How's the snow in Colorado?

LR: Colorado appears to be in the start of another lean year. We are slowly getting dustings here and there. I am more concerned about the instability in the backountry later this winter caused by this early snow, no snow pattern. Ski areas are doing a great job with the man made stuff though.

D: Where's your favorite place to ride?

LR: Mi favorito centro de eskiar? Well, that's a tough one - since I'm still exploring. But so far Jackson is high on my list and the backcountry around Mammoth. I love Taos for it's narrow runs and small town thing. Las Lenas isn't too shabby either.

Carl Skoog Photo

Skier: Leslie Ross Location: Valdez, Alaska

D: If you could do anything else for work what would it be?

LR: If I could stop waiting tables, I would head straight for the bigger mountains and guide full time.

D: What job would you never want to do?

LR: A Job that I would only last one day. That's a tough one, since I am pretty adaptable. But In general, a job that I had to compromise my values or one that I worked 7 days a week and never got to ski. Construction in the winter sucks.

D: Punk rock or disco?

LR: Disco all the way. But I can definitely appreciate punk rock for what it is. I just like to dance. Just like on skis. I heard the Tom Tom Club (not really disco) live this fall at the One World Fest and wished that they were making a come back. They put on an amazing show.

D: Chocolate or Vanilla?

LR: I have to go for the combo platter. I like the chocolate and vanilla swirl thing. Gotta have the best of both worlds. But there definitely is a time and a place for one with out the other.

D: Are you riding some fat boards this year?

LR: How fat are my skis this year? Not fat enough. My skis are perfect for the conditions and the terrain that I ski at home. The problem is when I go to visit friends or venture to bigger mountains in AK and BC, that's when I really need that extra width. Besides my Tua Big Easy's, I am going to check out a pair of Volant's and see what those puppies can do. I am anticipating some even fatter skis coming out next year from the Tua family. So I will just wait and see.

Thanks Leslie!

See more about Babes in the Backcountry:

Photos courtesy Carl Skoog. Visit his site: