Breaking into the scene: Telemark skiing may be the way |

Breaking into the scene: Telemark skiing may be the way

Jim Grant/Tahoe Daily Tribune South Tahoe High School student and telemark skier Ty Dayberry eyes his landing after launching into a corkscrew 720 off a big air jump at Heavenly Mountain Resort. Telemark skiing might be the newest way to break into an oversaturated snowsports scene and make a name for yourself. The 17-year-old Dayberry will be featured prominently in tonight's showing of "The Last Season," the latest film from Unparalleled Productions, a telemark-specific film company based out of Truckee. For the story, see Page B1.

17-year-old Dayberry one of sport’s rising stars

By Jeremy Evans

Tribune staff writer

On Tuesday afternoon in the High Roller terrain park, it was just another typical day underneath Canyon Chair at Heavenly Ski Resort. Snowboarders and skiers soared off kickers, spun 720s with phenomenal ease and jumped onto rails and boxes, sliding with style and precision.

The tricks displayed weren’t much different than those showcased in dozens of ski and snowboard films across the country. And in some cases, the moves were even more graceful. But how do these people break into the film industry? How do they make a name for themselves? Well, in an oversaturated market that mostly relies on connections and hookups, and not just ability anymore, they don’t stand a chance.

In fact, the only skier that stood out Tuesday was a teenager wearing a white helmet and a dark-colored jacket. This person launched into a corkscrew 720 off the park’s largest kicker and got so much air that it looked like he might land in the azure waters of Lake Tahoe, more than 3,000 feet below. But when he finally landed, everyone gaping from the chairlift noticed something different about him: He was on telemark skis.

Yep, just another eight seconds in the life of 17-year-old telemark skier Ty Dayberry.

“What Ty is doing is really amazing,” said Geoff Clark, who teaches advanced telemark skiing at Lake Tahoe Community College. “He’s doing stuff in terrain parks that hasn’t been seen before on telemarks. His name is getting pretty big because of all the things he can do.”

For those who haven’t seen Dayberry before, their next chance is tonight at Heavenly’s California Base Lodge, where Unparalleled Production’s latest film “The Lost Season” will be shown. The Truckee-based film company is one of only two major telemark ski specific film companies in the country. Clark, who’s also a chief examiner for the backcountry segment for the Professional Ski Instructors of America, figures that will probably change soon.

“It’s the fastest-growing segment of the winter sports market,” Clark said. “What I think you’re going to see, as well as more of them going in the terrain parks, is seeing telemark skiers doing more big mountain stuff. Telemark is really just hitting that growth spurt right now. I really think it can be an avenue for kids wanting to get their name out there.”

The telemark ski was originally designed for backcountry use, providing an opportunity to escape from crowded resorts and search for elusive powder runs. Instead of a fixed heel binding, like the ones used on Alpine skis, the telemark ski has a freeheel, which allows more flexibility and, coupled with the use of skins, offers less cumbersome climbing.

There also are two other signs that telemark skiing is growing. First, like Alpine skis, telemarks have recently modified their design to suit more people’s needs, such as different sidecuts and fatter bases that are more efficient in powder. Second, more young kids are on telemarks. The sport originally started out as an adult sport, Clark said, because only large boots were available. Now smaller boots are being manufactured. And it was this breakthrough that allowed Dayberry to break onto the scene.

By age 2, Dayberry was already on Alpine skis. But on his 10th birthday, his father, John, bought him his first pair of telemarks. Now that the South Tahoe High School junior has become one of the sport’s rising stars, he doesn’t envision himself changing disciplines anytime soon.

“It’s something different to do, a whole different sport, and a whole different mindset,” said Dayberry, who has spent the last two years filming for this movie, including on location in Italy and Austria. “I think everybody is kind of getting burned out on snowboarding and looking for something new to do. That’s the whole idea of the film is to be different and that’s why the film is different in itself.

“The popularity of telemark skiing is getting bigger in the backcountry, but I’m starting to see more people get into the park. It’s starting to appeal to everybody. You can’t really put a handicap on telemarks because we shouldn’t have any excuses for not being able to do something.”

“The Lost Season” by Unparalleled Productions

What: Truckee-based company’s fourth telemark specific film

Where: Heavenly’s California Base Lodge

Who: Some of the sport’s biggest stars, including South Tahoe High’s Ty Dayberry, Squaw Valley’s Lorenzo Worster and Truckee’s Scott Shields

When: 7 p.m.

Tickets: In advance at either Sierra Cycle Works or Sports Ltd., as well as at the door

Cost: $10

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