Lorin Paley is fast out of the gate. The former Alpine ski racer turned Telemarker, Paley found the love of drop-knee glory when a former alpine skiing race coach recommended Telemark for her cross training. She never looked back.
The SCARPA-sponsored athlete began racing in the World Cup in 07-08, and has since has become the most decorated woman in Telemark racing. In addition to winning two junior World Cup Golds and a Silver, she’s claimed two silver and two bronze on the World Cup circuit, and has her eyes set on the gold. Did we mention she’s only eighteen?
“Obviously, Lorin rips,” said Chris Clark, SCARPA’s team manager. “But she is much more than an internationally competitive skier. She’s involved in the promotion of outdoor activities, working as an Outdoor Nation ambassador to increase youth participation in the outdoors, as well as maintaining her college academic career. She thinks beyond just herself and her skiing. It’s a full slate of responsibilities and she takes them all seriously. It’s impressive on all levels.”
We caught up with her while she was jetting across Europe training for the next World Cup race in Bad Hindelang, Germany, on January 12 – 13th to get a sense of the unique demands a professional Telemark racer endures.
Q – Not many people know the ins and outs of World Cup Telemark racing. Can you give a quick overview of your specific sport?
LP – World Cup Telemark racing is an exciting race series culminating with World Cup Finals and a World Cup Championship. Teams from ten countries compete at races throughout Europe. Races have also been held in North America, and future races are planned in Japan.
Q – World Cup Telemark racing isn’t just a Tele version of a traditional Alpine GS, is it?
LP – Well, every Telemark race is based on the GS (giant slalom, or medium-sized turn) and is judged on Telemark style. The style is based on whether there is a boot space between the downhill “leading” foot and the uphill “trailing foot.” Also the trailing foot’s heel must be visibly lifted, and there can be no pause in transition between turns. Failure to have Telemark style can result in a second penalty per gate. The other defining characteristic of a Telemark race is the jump. Every race has a jump and penalties are given if a racer does not jump as far as the line, and if a racer fails to land in Telemark position. The jump can be up to forty meters long.
(See Video Below for Demonstrataion)
The classic race is the longest and most unique of all the Telemark races. The total time is two to four minutes, with up to 60 turns and two jumps. There is a skating portion in the race which is approximately one-third of the total time. And, before the skate, the racer goes through a feature called the reiplykkjer (“the rap”), which is a 360 degree banked turn where the skier crosses their own tracks. The reiplykkjer’s purpose is to slow the racer down before the skate. The classic is a one run race. A sprint race is in the same format as the classic, but in a two-run format. As the name infers, the sprint can be as short as a minute with 15 gates and 20 seconds of skating. Typically there is only one jump. The GS race is a two-run race with the jump but no skate. A typical time for a GS run is 90 seconds.
Q – When did you first begin Telemark racing? Were you ever an alpine racer?
LP – I started Alpine racing when I was five years old at a three run “mountain” in New Jersey. When I was nine, we moved to Steamboat Springs, Colorado for better training. After my coach suggested that I try Telemark for cross training four years ago, I got hooked. Naturally, being an Alpine racer, I jumped right into the racing side of Telemark.
Q – How did you first get involved with World Cup racing?
LP – After doing really well at US National Championships and joining the US National Telemark Team, the natural next step was to start competing on an international level.
Q – We assume you’re on Scarpa TX-pros. Has NTN (New Telemark Norm) changed racing much?
LP – NTN hasn’t changed Telemark racing all that much. It’s like Phil Mahre said when he tried to make a comeback in Alpine racing. The new technology makes it easier to ski faster, but it is just as hard to win. I do see more racers on NTN, I would say it is 80% this year and rapidly becoming more. Granted, last year, the overall titles were won by a girl and guy who didn’t have the NTN, so it is still up to the skier to perform!
Q – How would you like to see the sport in the coming years?
LP – I know that as competition gets tighter at the World Cup level viewership and visibility will grow. I would like to see more regional Telemark racing programs and events in the US as well.
Q – What are the hardest challenges? Rewards?
LP – My hardest challenge right now is recovery. Since I underwent surgery last May, my knee isn’t 100%, so the hardest part for me is patience. The most rewarding part is at the end of a race when I know that I left my heart and soul in the skate, and that I performed at my peak, that is the best feeling in the world.
To find out more about Lorin, check out her blog at www.LorinPaley.com . For information on the rest of the US National Telemark Team and the full World Cup and domestic Telemark racing schedule and results, visit the United States Telemark Ski Association web site: http://www.ustsa.org