Allen and Mike's Really Cool Telemark Tips
Such is the fun of this engaging and informative little book, if you're learning to Tele, it won't be far from your side. Much loved by Tele-Skiers the world over, Allen and Mike's Really Cool Telemark Tips is the telemark instructional book to have, whether you're looking to swot up on techniques between runs or reflect at length on your day's skiing technique back at the lodge (or in your tent by torchlight - if you're backcountry). For beginners and aficionados alike, it is a must have for Tele-Skiers who really want to learn to shred it.
The copy I am reviewing is the 2008 second edition by the American authors Allen O'Bannon and Mike Clelland. Over the last ten years since the book's original publication in 1998, Telemark skiing has evolved considerably - in popularity and improved technology. This updated edition reflects all those changes in the gear, the instruction and the style.
Illustrator Mike describes himself as a "cartoonist and ski bum" whose "formative years were spent reading MAD magazine - which made him forever "doomed to draw." Co-author Allen describes his experiences teaching Telemark and he explains spending as much time on skis as possible is key to developing "dynamic balance". The cumulative effect of their combined passion and experience is clearly reflected in the manifestation of this book; "an overtly visual and berserk cartoon-a-rama" as Mike puts it. This book encapsulates 123 telemark tips in pictorial form. From foundation stuff like stance, right through to carving, steeps and backwards skiing. And it's all delivered in their trademark helpful yet amusing visual explanations that are - most importantly - easy to recall when practising.
The result: this book is very easy to use. It's not meant to be a super serious and super technical step-by-step methodical tome, rather it reveals the technical progressions in a bunch of easily digestible pictures providing memorable visual cues that will imprint onto your brain in a good way. It's easy to pick out a few of these tips for the day and apply them to your skiing on the slopes. Before you know it you'll be "squeezing an orange between your hip and ribcage", "squashing your little and big toe grapes" and "pointing your flashlighty belly button" at all and sundry.
To new and aspiring Tele-Skiers I recommend this book highly - you simply must get it. To the seasoned Tele-Skier I say dig out your copy and revisit it. It's always good to practise but even better to practise with cause.
If you have this book already check out another book by Allen and Mike: Allen and Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book (Travelling and Camping Skills for a Winter Environment)
About the Authors:
Allen O'Bannon grew up in Portland Oregon where he dabbled in skiing and winter camping in the Cascade mountains. Moving to the mountains of eastern Idaho in the 80s gave fuel to his lifelong passion. He has worked for NOLS, the United States Antarctic Program and has taught telemark skiing for years.
Mike Clelland grew up in Michigan and then spent 10 years in New York City being a yuppie it is claimed. In 1987 he thought it might be good to be a ski bum in Wyoming for a season. After living and skiing in the Rockies for a while he found it impossible to return to his old life in the big city. In the book it states he now lives in a shed in Idaho where he splits his time between working for NOLS and illustrating.
NB: There is one other well known Telemark instructional book you ought to have on your shelf. And that is: Free Heel Skiing by Paul Parker. Allen and Mike make mention of this in their telemark tips book and also pay an illustrative salute to Paul Parker on page 73.