Sierra-at-Tahoe has forged a name for itself in the telemark world. Its Telemark and Backcountry Center offers lessons and rentals with a special Telegrass Festival March 26-27 for the freeheel and freeheel wannabe crowd.

The 8-year-old Telemark and Backcountry Center next to Grandview Express opens Fridays through Sundays and holidays. It offers private lessons, group lessons, rentals, and Friday $20 two-hour clinics from PSIA-certified instructors.

Kal Incendy, manager and head instructor of the center, sees telemark as a viable snow discipline for all ages, including older folks. "As you get older, telemark skiing is more ergonomically designed for the body," he told OnTheSnow. "It works the muscles, not the joints, and the gear design absorbs a majority of the concussion."

He also sees telemark gear as the most versatile equipment requiring much of the same movement patterns that alpine skiers use. "We're doing everything on telemark skis that snowboarders and alpiners are doing, but the gear is more lightweight and friendlier on the body," he said. "The majority of the same movement pattern is similar to alpine skiing except for pressuring the uphill and inside leg instead of the downhill and outside leg. You also counter your upper body as opposed to rotating the upper body."

The transfer from alpine skiing to telemark might be a simple change of technique, but telemark equipment requires balancing on a smaller platform. "The platform on a snowboard is the whole board, which allows you to get away with bigger mistakes. Alpine boots have three points of contact creating a triangular platform, but telemark has a smaller pinline platform," he said. "Look at the upper body of a good telemark skier, and it's motionless. Telemark skiers can't get away with the same mistakes."

The annual Telegrass Festival returns to Sierra-at-Tahoe for two days March 26-27 with clinics, bluegrass bands, Fat Tire beer, races, retro costume contest, raffles, and demos. The two-hour clinics offer lessons in beginning, novice, intermediate, and advanced telemark in the mornings and steeps, bumps, off piste, carving, and skier improvement for beginners in the afternoons.

Rates for the Telegrass Festival run $85 for one day and $145 for two days. Lift tickets for participants cost $25. Registration for the clinics are available each morning until 10 a.m. at the Telemark and Backcountry Center.

More information.

Sierra-at-Tahoe Telegrass

Learn to telemark at Sierra-at-Tahoe through their Telemark and Backcountry Center. Sierra-at-Tahoe photo.