Telemark world cup comes to Colorado this week

Races in Keystone start today; Boulder skier competing

This week marks the first time the telemark ski racing world cup has come to Colorado.

After competing in world cup races in Steamboat Springs earlier this week, Boulder-based tele racer Eric Lamb also will compete in the races at Keystone Thursday through Sunday.

Lamb said it’s exciting to have world-cup level races here in Colorado, because not only is it a first — the rulebook was born here.

“Until the ’80s, there was no telemark racing,” Lamb said. “A group of folks out of Colorado wrote the rules for telemark racing, and the international association adopted it.”

Lamb has traveled through Europe for the telemark circuit before; he did his first world cup race in 2002, and, in 2007, he spent a season in Norway to work with a coach.

“Until the last two years, there wasn’t a strong base in Colorado for racing,” he said. “Now the team has gravitated toward Steamboat Springs.”

He said about 75 percent of the 17-member U.S. team is based there.

Though he races at the world-cup level, Lamb works full time for Boulder restaurant Mateo and handles some administrative work as vice president of the U.S. Telemark Ski Association. He said one of the biggest hurdles for marketing telemark racing is sometimes explaining that it’s a sport — not telemarketing.

“Drumming up dollars for it is definitely difficult,” he said.

In the meantime, he races and trains when he can. There are three types of telemark races: classic, sprint classic and telemark, or giant slalom.

“The classics are supposed to represent how skiing was back in the day,” he said. “It wasn’t their recreation, it was a mode of transportation.”

The classic includes a run of 2,000 vertical feet or more, a jump, and a big banked turn called a reipelokke to slow skiers down for the Nordic portion, in which competitors have to skate.

“I think they’re incredibly fun races to watch, because it’s not someone simply going left-right-left-right.”