By Philip Peterson II
Special to the Turnagain Times
Anyone who has ever dreamt of ski world fame, making it into the movies, gear sponsorships, free travel, going from an unknown ski bum to a ski bum of means…cue Eye of the Tiger and start doing your sit-ups; your chance for fame and glory is only a couple of weeks away. The 5th annual Telepalooza Jeff Nissman Memorial Telemark Festival will be held March 28-30, and this year comes with a whole new challenge: The World Telemark Free-Style Championships. This is your chance to step forward
and drop a knee at the highest level of competition.
As an added motivation the event is rolling into town with a substantial prize purse including a first prize of 50,000 vertical feet of heli-skiing with Valdez Heli Camps. If you don’t make it to the winner’s podium, you still get to tell your friends that you competed in the World Championships. I may sign up and then intentionally get disqualified before the event just so I can play the “what if” card at parties.
For those of us that don’t aspire to super-stardom and the glossy pages of the magazines, Telepalooza has a wide array of fun in store for us as well. With telemark lessons and clinics ranging from beginner to expert everyone has the chance to hone their skills. A cool new addition to this year’s festival is a kid’s tele-clinic. Tele-Ned Ryerson is flying up from Colorado to teach the next generation of free-heelers.
Another change in the annual schedule is the combination of the uphill skinning race with the downhill giant slalom race. Contestants will skin from the base of the area to the top of the race course, de-skin, and then race through the giant slalom course back to the finish line. There will be skilled racers and people who can barely ski, so the level of competition is whatever you want it to be.
If you’re feeling a little less ambitious you are free to partner up and make it a relay. I’m currently looking for two partners for the race, one to skin the uphill, one to race the downhill, and I’ll handle press from inside the bar.
If you are interested in participating in any of the events you must visit www.telepalooza.org to download the registration form, liability waiver, and the rules for the competitions. You will need to fax it in before the morning of the event. There will be a local’s registration Thursday night at the Sitzmark from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. to get a jump
start on getting everyone signed up. Even if you’ve already faxed everything in, you still need to show up to pay and get your credentials for the weekend.
Brooke Edwards, Telepalooza’s chief organizer and workhorse has drummed up an impressive $25,000 in booty for the annual fundraising raffle. Prizes include: skis, heli-skiing, outdoor clothing, gift certificates and more. Special back-country raffle tickets are on sale to win a week for 12 people at the Valkyr Adventures Lodge in British
Columbia and one plane ticket to get there. Second prize is a local back-country heli drop from Alpine Air. Tickets are on sale now at World Cup Anchorage, World Cup Girdwood, AMH, and the Javahaus (located in Alyeska’s Day lodge). Proceeds from the raffle are donated to Friends of the Chugach Avalanche Information Center in honor of Jeff Nissman. This organization is a non-profit that is dedicated to supporting our very own avalanche forecast center. It provides funding for new weather stations, training of avalanche observers, funding for hiring additional crew, and other avalanche educational awareness projects. So money spent on a raffle ticket benefits back country
skiers, riders, and snow-machiners. Therefore, you are doing a good
deed by increasing your chances to win big prizes; your free heli-skiing
trip could help save lives.
Carrying on tradition, on the night of the raffle there will be a rowdy shindig at the Sitzmark featuring a pirate theme (no real swords please). Start growing out those beards and find your eye-patch. I’ll probably go as a parrot and obnoxiously climb up onto everyone’s shoulders repeating, “Philip wants a beer.” Telepalooza is a great opportunity for us to get together, enjoy each other’s company, raise money for a good cause, and celebrate the life of a departed comrade.
To wrap it up I’ll leave you with a little brainstorming from Anchorage resident Luke Smithwick, “I’m looking forward to skiing with a bunch of pirates…arrr! Man, that will probably be old by the end of the weekend. Maybe we should outlaw arrr! and only allow people to say ski the gnarrr, or go farrr, and I’ll see you at the barrr…Ok, I’ll stop, don’t pee your pants.”