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Whitefish Photo

Fun and racing in Whitefish

Whitefish Page 2

While the last few years have been the most remarkable, telemark racing is hardly new to Whitefish. For over twenty years, local pinheads have rallied together at the Big Mountain to test their speed. Dow Powell and a handful of other enthusiasts, including Rocky Mountain Outfitter owner Don Scharfe, established the Norpine Classic in the late 70's. Starting from scratch, the group managed to purchase gates, handle timing and scoring and even provide the ceremonial beers themselves.

This was the inception of the Thursday Night League that, to this day, remains the mainstay for telemark racing. Skiers of all abilities participate bringing together serious racers, powderhounds and neophytes alike. The comradery is like no other I've seen. If a buddy poaches another's powder line earlier in the week, retribution can be taken out on the course and laughed about over complimentary beers after the race. In fact, some join the fun for the latter reason, and who can blame them? In 1983, an event engendered separate from the series as the big race of the year. This was the Hawaiian Tele Classic. Costumes were donned, gates were bashed, reipelykkjes spun around and the fun never stopped. To this day, the most important telemark race at Big Mountain is the Hawaiian Tele Classic. The trophy was crafted by Powell from miscellaneous ski parts and apparently ranks as the most sought after prize in the game, currently residing somewhere in Switzerland.

When asked about the future of local tele racing, Persons explained that with things well established in Whitefish, it's now time to expand to different areas around the state. For this reason, he and Pete Seigmund recently founded the Montana Telemark Ski Association. Similar to Rocky Mountain Telemark of Colorado, the organization will coordinate events statewide creating a full series of USTSA sanctioned races and a full season. This year's Blackstar Montana Telemark Series marks a beginning of this vision. At the same time, the group plans to branch out into non-traditional races including moguls and the increasingly popular freeskiing format. Given the wider approach coupled with both competitive and citizens divisions, more pinheads are expected to join the fun and get involved. With such a tightly knit group of local freeheelers, the sky's the limit. Big Mountain already plans to put in a bid for the World Championships in 2003. Looking back at the roots of the local tele race scene and the unwavering dedication over the years, it's certainly a possibility. Here's to another great year of racing!


Photo: Jeff Scholl

The Author enjoying the less competitive side of Whitefish
Photo: Jeff Scholl

Back to Page 1

The Blackstar Montana Telemark Series Schedule

December 9-12
U.S. OPEN TELEMARK CHAMPIONSHIPS
SL, GS, CL SP, CL
Big Mountain, Whitefish
Info: Becky Lomax 406.862.2911
USTSA points & Citizens Divisions

January 9
BIG MOUNTAIN TELEMARK RACING CLINIC
Fun/Educational
Big Mountain, Whitefish
Instruction provided by the Big Mountain Ski School & US Telemark Ski Team
Info: Big Mountain Ski School 406.862.2909

Starting January 13
RUNNER UP TWILIGHT TELEMARK SERIES
January 13 Night SL
February 3 Night CL SP
February 10 Night SL
Big Mountain, Whitefish
Info: Becky Lomax 406.862.2911
USTSA Points & Thursday Night League

February 12-13
MONTANA STATE TELEMARK CHAMPIONSHIPS
SL,CL SP
Blacktail Ski Area, Lakeside
Info: Dan Bovee 406.844.0999
USTSA Points & Citizen Divisions

February 18-21
F.I.S. TELEMARK WORLD CUP
CL SP, CL, GS
Big Mountain, Whitefish
Info: Becky Lomax 406.862.2911
F.I.S. & USTSA Points

March 25
PINHEAD CLASSIC
Costume GS
Bridger Bowl, Bozeman
Info: Brian Grossenbacher 406.586.1518

March 25-26
MONTANA TELEMARK SERIES FINALS
GS, CL
Snowbowl, Missoula
Info: Gia Fairchild 406.549.9777
USTSA Points & Citizen Divisions

April 1
FREESKIING SLOPESTYLE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Extreme fun
Big Mountain, Whitefish
Info: Becky Lomax 406.862.2911
Telemark, Alpine & Snowboard Divisions

SERIES ORGANIZER:
Neil Persons 406.862.4399

ATHLETE REPRESENTATIVE:
Reid Sabin 406.862.5024

MONTANA TELEMARK SKI ASSOCIATION:
Pete Seigmund & Neil Persons 406.862.6083
Email: seigmund@digisys.net