It would have been hard to miss the Telemark Skiing World Cup at Planards, Chamonix the piste was lit up like Blackpool illuminations and was visible for miles. The event was held in the evening and from a distance the powerful lamps that illuminated the skiers path gave it the appearance of an alpine motorway.
Telemark skiing is also known as “free-heel skiing” as the heel of the ski boot is unattached. The binding is fixed only at the toe allowing a much greater degree of movement. This enables the skier to bend at the knee, in effect lunging into a turn, which is known as a telemark turn.
In common with most things involved with skiing telemark appears to have been developed in Norway. It is an especially graceful manner of travelling downhill that many alpine skiers aspire to replicating proficiently.. The term telemark comes from the Norwegion region of the same name.
The event that took place in Chamonix was the Night Sprint, which is the first leg of a two leg competition. The second stage the Dual Sprint is being held at the Col de Voza, Les Houches today Sunday 10th February, 2013. I can thoroughly recommend going along if you’re in the area.
100 competitors from 14 different countries including Norway, France and the United Kingdom donned their skin tight all in one lycra suits on a very cold night to thrill the small but enthusiastic crowd. A lively carnival style band provided further entertainment, banging drums, blowing whistles and putting on an colourful and energetic display. Though perhaps had more to do with keeping warm.
Sporting events are usually great spectacles, so much colour and action, this was not an exception. Speeding lycra clad missiles glide effortlessly down the crystallised slopes, it is only when they are hurtling themselves across the finish line that the effort becomes evident. Each competitor’s face contorted into a grimace, arms and legs driving the skier towards the line, every muscle and sinew working to it’s maximum.
Such was the effort of one hapless competitor that he fell within a few metres of the line, trying just a little too hard and losing control moments from possible glory.
It is these small moments of drama that make watching sports so compelling. Years and months of training condensed into a few minutes of supreme effort, excitement and drama giving rise to gasps and cheers with equal measure from the crowd.
Capturing images of the excitement presents it’s own challenges, colourful but fast moving subjects in a low light situation requires adjusting the shutter speed to obtain a variety of results. Freezing action but also attempting to convey the speed and action of the event.
If the opportunity to attend a ski racing event arises take it, it won’t be a decision you’ll regret. There is a carnival atmosphere, the aroma of spiced, warm wine and hotdogs permeates the frosty air, alongside the thrills and spills of the sporting drama. Just wrap remember, the importance of layering!