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Tuesday, March 20, 2012
The lone telemark skier


If you tuned into the live feeds from the Freeskiing World Tour events in Revelstoke and Snowbird this season, you may have done a double take when Jake Sakson took his runs. No, it wasn't an equipment malfunction -- the big-mountain skier is a telemarker. In fact, he's usually the only freeheeler on the start list at FWT events. He's spent most of the season chasing powder in the Northwest, and we caught up with him after a recent powder day at Mt. Baker to talk tele turns on the FWT and his budding rap career.

Do you think being a telemark skier handicaps you in big-mountain competitions?
For a long time, I felt like telemarking was a disadvantage. But now I feel like it's just a different stylistic approach that requires a bit more precision. So when I'm looking for lines, I know I can't necessarily turn as quickly or stop as quickly as alpine skiers. There's a difference with a telemark line as opposed to an alpine line, but I don't really look at it as a disadvantage, I just look at it as a different style of getting down the mountain.

Will we see more telemark skiers on the FWT?
I've been doing it consistently for the past two years, but I'd done a couple before that. I think we are going to see more telemarkers coming at it. I've been the only one -- or me and Nick Devore were at Snowbird last year -- but there's a handful of people I know who I think can contend and we'll try to get them out next year.

Where is telemark skiing at right now?
Telemarking is definitely not for everyone because it requires a good bit of discipline and passion. If you're not really excited about it and you're not putting in 50-plus days a year, it's really hard to progress because of how long it takes to get the technique and the leg strength. I'm not anticipating a telemark explosion, but I think there will be growing interest, especially as alpine skiing is kind of maxing out in a certain way. People can only go so big, so telemarking is just a way to add another dimension.

Jake Sakson skiing off Alaska's Thompson Pass.

I heard you were a child actor. Is that why you were so comfortable doing your backcountry rap in Powderwhore's "Breaking Trail"?
I guess I'm not too afraid of making a fool of myself. I've never really been one to have stage fright. I just rap and freestyle in my head on the skin track, just for my own pleasure a lot of the time. The rapping started with my high school telemark team at Colorado Rocky Mountain School, we would just freestyle on the chairlift.

What's happening with the new website you're working on, Surf Gravity?
I'm working on it with Nick Devore and Paul Kimbrough and Will Cardamone. We're looking to collaborate our skiing skills. A lot of us have been on our own program for the past couple years. It looks like it's not going to happen until next year, but we'll have our own blog and webisodes, just to share our telemark style and things like that. We got pretty shut down this year because it didn't really snow in Colorado, so we were limited.