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Telemark Skiers Aim for Olympic Inclusion

The World Cup circuit of the grueling form of skiing is in Vermont this week

Vermont’s Sugarbush Resort is hosting International Ski Federation Telemark World Cup races this week, with some of the top athletes in the sport testing their skills and vying for points.

The style of skiing will not be reflected at the upcoming Olympic Winter Games. However, athletes are hoping to change that for the future.

The grueling form of racing has athletes jumping, navigating slalom gates using the sport’s distinctive turning technique, then skate-skiing through a loop and even uphill for a bit. The range of challenges is made possible by free-heel equipment.

“It’s kind of like if you took alpine racing, ski jumping, and nordic skiing, and put it all into one—then kept it together with telemark, which is the original form of skiing,” explained Madi McKinstry, a telemark racer from Bozeman, Montana.

There’s now a renewed push from athletes and their supporters to get telemark skiing added to the list of Winter Olympic events, perhaps in 2022 or 2026.

"2022 is hopeful, even if it’s something as a demonstration or exhibition event—just to try to get that additional momentum,” said Garrett Long, the president of the U.S. Telemark Ski Association, who added that formal petitions will request the sport’s inclusion. “It will probably take longer than we think it will.”

Cory Snyder, who grew up in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire and now lives in Montana, is a veteran of World Cup telemark competitions.

“Obviously, as an athlete, what could be better than going to the Olympics?” Snyder asked. “I think [telemark skiing is] the ultimate winter discipline. And I think to showcase that on the Olympic level would be something that a lot of people would enjoy.”

Organizers say events like this week’s competitions at Sugarbush are key to growing athlete participation and public interest in the races. The U.S. Telemark Ski Association said developing more athletes and growing the sport of telemark skiing in more countries are goals as it aims to reach the Olympic stage.

Earlier this week, FIS Telemark World Cup competitions were held at the Suicide Six ski area in South Pomfret, Vermont.

For information on visiting Sugarbush to watch the competition Thursday or Friday, click here.

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