TELESKIERS, WE’VE ALL SEEN THEM sashaying down the slopes at Plattekill. They look strangely athletic and relaxed at the same time. Plus those beards. The free-heel technique has always fascinated me so I thought I’d trade my skis for some tele skis for an afternoon. (click the “read more” button below to real all about my hijinks on the hill and see if I did actually free my mind).

I took an hour lesson with Jeff Crane, Head of the Ski School and Platty’s own televangelist. My first question for Jeff when I put the skis on was “How do I move forward in these. That is, without falling over?” I’d heard stories from other skiers who’d tried tele and about falling first thing. Skiers know to push on the front of their boots – but do that in tele gear and you’re not going anywhere, except maybe face down in the snow. Jeff explained that the trick to keeping your heel down is to push only horizontally, sort of a shuffle. We also practiced the basic stance, which is to bend the forward knee and to balance on your back toe, and then to switch sides. This sounds simple but the combination of lunging, balancing and switching is tricky. And that tele mantra, free your heel and your mind will follow? Mine was a tad caught up in remembering what to do and when.IMG 1652

With the basics down, it was time for a run on Powder Puff. Getting on and off the chairlift was almost as nerve-racking as my first time on skis but I kept my heels down, and now it was down to business. Just like beginner skiing it’s one turn at a time, then putting those turns together and trying different terrain. I found that as I switched sides I could initiate a turn but found my trailing ski to be a little non-compliant. Jeff explained that the trick is to put more weight on the back ski and to steer with it too.

By the time we got to the bottom I was getting the idea, so we went up for another run. Tele is great for fore-aft balance, so at the very least this was going to improve my alpine skiing. I spent the rest of the afternoon practicing and given a couple more runs I think I would have made it to a gentle blue trail. From there, well, one day you might see me sashaying down The Face, who knows? And growing my beard out. In the meantime, you too can learn to tele on February 28 as part of Platty’s telefest, which includes PSIA learn-to-tele clinics and “Tele for $20” lift tickets.