I went to the 39th NATO telemark Festival.
That’s more than a few.
Located in the State of Vermont, Mad River Glen is an Iconic mountain resort of Eastern North America. It’s got a Single Chair lift, and it’s barely got man made snow.
Needless to say it have been many years on my hit list.
So here I was, ready for my first ride up the Single, as the local call it, waiting in line when the guy behind ask me about my skis:”what kind are those”
And that was it. That’s all it took to embark on one of the easy going, best vibe and fun week end of my life. No wonder it’s been around for so long…
That’s how I meet Steve, Wendy and Ben and about two dozen other enthousiast. They have been part of MRG and NATO for all these years. They simply welcomed me in there universe: Do you like to ski in the trees? Wendy asked.
I did not know much about NATO (North American Telemark Organisation) but I knew they helped created telemark like it is today. Their movies the Joy of Telemark and Sweet Joy helped define and have shown a lot of people how to telemark over the years.
But I discovered the real influence NATO have over the sport. You cannot organize a festival for 39 year with such success if you are not dedicated to the sport like Dickie Hall, president, is. And it’s not only him, it’s a full crowd of passionate people including Wendy, Steve and Ben.
I was sucked in the telemark community. I ended up skiing with Steve or his friends, or his friends-friends for the week-end. I got shown the best glades, the worst glades, the steep, the fun boardercross like classic narrow runs. Just a blast. By the time the party came in the evening I felt like part of the Mad River community like if I had been part of it for years. Wendy took my under her wing, presented me to everybody. Drank the BEST beer ever, thanks to Lawson’s Finest Liquid, awesome band playing all the classic rock so that everyone is dancing, a super nice firework… You just can’t reproduce such a welcoming ambiance like that. You have it or you don’t. And the Mad locals definitely have it.
I got invited to a supper, to sleep over, to try the best blue berry pancakes ever…
See what kind of spirit I mean
The next day, back to square one, skiing steep, engaging runs with a large bunch of really fun people. All levels or age, just so dedicated. In the evening was the Bump Buffet race, a short mogul race with a small jump right at the bottom of the mountain for the best ambiance possible. The run was perfect for all levels from kids to expert skiers, everybody having fun and cheering for each other. I completely miss my first run and ended up putting a decent second run to win the event. What a blast.
Another round of Lawson’s perfect liquid, with a cool band…
I’ll definitely be there this year for the 40th anniversary. You need to be there too.
In Podcast #5 with Dickie Hall, I give you the chalenge to find a telemark event, festival near you. If you can’t decided, you should definitely check NATF 40th edition on March 7-8 2015. You can see all NATO schedule here
I found a lot of good video on youtube about Mad River Glen like this one
But none reflect the reality of this unique resort. You have to ski it. It’s steeper, more rugged, than any other ski area I’ve ever been in the East. Almost every run has cliffs, ice, bumps and rock mixed in such an unpredictable manner that it’s all in on every turn. The concentration, the commitment needs to be 100% on every turn.
I just love it.
The moto: Ski it if you can… Mad River Glen, is more than deserved.
Yet, everybody can ski it. It’s ski like it used to be, it’s ski like it should be. The very few groomed runs are narrow any turny, the glades are anywhere from tight to really tight and one third of the ski runs are not on the map. Yet, everybody could ski it…
Meeting with the ski patrollers, the number of injuries is very low compared to the national statistics. I was not so surprised. After many years pro patrolling on one of the hardest ski resort in Eastern Canada, I have only ever evacuate 4 or 5 injured people on a mogul run or in the glades. On the other side, I can’t count the number of days I have had more than 5 injured skiers in one day, on wide, groomed blue runs
The average skill level of the local Mad River Glenner is higher than average but even beginners were on the mountain and doing fine. Everyone’s pace is different, but every one could ski it.
If you want a chalenge, the best ambiance a mountain can give and meet the best people in Vermont, head over to the Mad River Glen 40th telemark festival with Dickie and his friends. You definitely won’t regret it.