No love, much pain in search for Vail telemark shop
January 12, 2009 —
It was only the first turn of the day, but it was the most painful turn I’ve made since I tore my MCL in the Back Bowls seven years ago.
Even as I write the tears are forming … can you see the drippity-drop of my sadness evanescing on the page as you read?
No, perhaps not, because you are probably a skier, or a snowboarder, and don’t know what it’s like to be a telemarker in Vail. You don’t feel the discrimination, the loneliness, the subtle undercurrents of distaste which a telemarkers in need can feel in this town of alpine-friendly, even snowboard-friendly ski shops.
Can you hear my heartstrings a-quivering?
Don’t worry, I’m used to it. I’m used to the pain, like the pain I felt while kneeling atop Snag Park, broken binding in one hand, broken heart in the snow. I had waited all morning for a friend (an alpine skier, no less) to make his way from one stop to another — a friend’s house, the coffee shop, the lift ticket line, and even Mid-Vail — before stepping into a turn.
We had assembled the perfect group of friends and family, chosen our route, and I watched them all disappear from sight as I dropped to my knees and turned skyward in supplication to the snow gods, wondering why it was me (WHY!) who had to suffer a broken binding on such a day (WHY!), at such a moment (WHY!), when so much good skiing awaited me. (NOOOOOOOOooooooooooOOOOO!)
My binding was shattered. Crushed and disheartened, skiing Snag on one ski (no easy task, mind you) I was forced to download on Chair 6 in search of a telemark shop which could repair my ski, my heart, my soul, in time to save my day.
My friends, I am sad to report that no such shop exists. Not Vista Bahn Sports (Sacha, why hast thou forsaken me!!), not Pepi’s, not even Bag and Pack could heal my woe. Even Double Diamond in Lionshead, which beckoned me with false hope relayed by phone, was unable to heal my binding because they only carried G3, rather than the heavy-duty Rottefellas which had served me so well for so long until Sunday.
Only Alpinequest sports can save me now, but their distance from the slopes was enough to end my day and I sat, bewildered and forlorn, drowning my sorrows with a pint of Stella at Vendetta’s combined with the knowledge that Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers were getting pummeled by the Steelers (which, I must admit, did much to heal my broken Bronco heart).
Yes, I know there are those of you out there who will say that discrimination against telemarkers is an illusion, a phantom invented by freeheelers who are insecure about their knee-bending ways. But today I felt it right down to my core when store after store, shop after shop, rejected me time and again, sparing very little in the way of sympathy as they shuffled me out the door.
Weep for me brothers and sisters! Weep I say! It is a sad day indeed. Only time will heal these free heels, time and snow, preferably tomorrow after I stop by the one and only place where I can take my Rottefellas in the door without shame and say, “Hey, dude, I need to fix my binding.”
And the dude will say, “Yeah, no problem, give me a sec,” and soon thereafter the binding will be fixed, and soon after that I will be skiing once more, defying the odds, taking on the Man, riding like every turn could be my last because, as I know all too well – even your first turn, my friends, even the first turn of the day can be your last.
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