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Why are there so many of those Free-heel skiers?

Author: Oliver Shannon
Category: Explore The Mountains

Written in Memory of Kåre Andersen who passed away ten years ago today (Dec. 20, 2012). 


Bromley Mountain has always been known as Vermont’s Sun Mountain, but did you know it is also known as a hub for a small community of skiers? My name is Oliver Shannon and I first strapped on a pair of alpine skis here at Bromley. Since then I've worked all over the mountain as a ski instructor, and now as a snow reporter, content producer, and a night-shift snowmaker. I was first introduced to sliding on snow at age 9 in the form of cross-country skiing and quickly fell in love with it. The peace of being outside in nature along with the workout that cross-country provided made it a worthwhile experience for an energetic middle schooler. The following winter I was enrolled in the KidsRule ski school program at Bromley and began to obsess with the adrenaline rush and thrill of downhill skiing. If only there was a way to have both the adrenaline rush of downhill skiing and the freedom/workout of cross-country skiing... oh wait there was!  

I discovered Telemark skiing here at Bromley thanks to the Kåre Andersen Telemark Center. Down in rentals, there was a huge fleet of Telemark boots and skis that even accommodated my 10-year-old frame. I hooked into a pair of three-pin bindings mounted on some dijon-mustard colored Head skis and went out for a lesson with the Telemark Coordinator, Greg Paquin. To this day Greg is a great friend of mine and an incredible mentor of the art of freeing the heel and freeing the mind. So why did I end up sticking with this weird form of skiing (even though after that first day I could not make a dang telemark turn)? Well, I found out very quickly that Telemark Skiing is much more than just a discipline of skiing. Within the friendly environment that Bromley offers, there is a deep-knit community of Telemark skiers. Most Telemark skiers at Bromley know each other and if they don’t, they are quickly introduced to the crew.  Over the years these people have become my skiing family and I always look forward to running into them on the slopes. This sense of camaraderie is all thanks to the rich history of the discipline at Bromley. So come along with me and learn about the history of the oldest Telemark program in North America.   

The story begins with a cross-country skier named Filippo Pagano. Filippo or “TelemarkFil” as his nickname goes, was an avid Nordic cross-country skier in the late 1960s and 1970s. In 1975 he, along with Inger Johansson, founded the Nordic Inn and Ski Touring Center in Landgrove, Vermont. Around this time “TelemarkFil” began experimenting with Nordic gear on the downhill scene at Stratton and Bromley. Once he figured out the Telemark turn style, he proposed the idea of starting a Telemark program at Bromley. On the 8th of October 1980, in association with the Nordic Inn, Bromley’s Owner Stig Albertson and General Manager Bob Peron approved the formation of an “Alpine Ski Touring Center featuring the Telemark Turn style.” In other words, Filippo along with Bromley founded what is now the oldest Telemark school in North America. “TelemarkFil” headed the program until 1983 when his protégé, Jeb Porter, took over. Following Jeb’s leadership, in 1990 the program was handed over to a Norwegian native named Kåre Fridtjof Anderson.  

Kåre was born in 1916 in Kolbotn, Norway then moved to New Haven, CT in 1958. He was a Master Tailor/Designer and even made suits for President John F. Kennedy.  Cross-country skiing was second only to walking for Kåre. He would ski over 12 miles to school when it snowed and was a regionally infamous ski jumper. In 1981 he retired and moved to Londonderry, Vermont and was a frequent skier at the old Snow Valley Ski Area in Winhall, VT. Kåre quickly became friends with Carol Spinrad who was the director of the ski school at Snow Valley. Together they started a separate Telemark school at Snow Valley. When Snow Valley closed in 1984, Kåre moved his Telemark program to Magic Mountain and In 1985, he began his annual Telemark race. When the opportunity arose, Kåre combined his school with the existing one at Bromley and took over the reins in 1990 and ran the program for over twenty years. Often seen alongside Kåre at Bromley was his dear friend Valerie “Val” Johnson. Together they were a fearsome force for Telemark until Kåre’s death in 2012. To this day, Val still helps to run the annual Kåre Andersen Telemark Festival and Race at Bromley. In 2010 the Telemark program and festival were officially dedicated by Bromley in Kåre’s honor for his over two decades of leadership.  

The Kåre Andersen Telemark Center is now headed by Greg Paquin. Greg grew up cross-country skiing and started exploring the backcountry scene. He then discovered Telemark and he has been sold ever since. Greg is a PSIA-E (Professional Ski Instructors of America) Telemark Examiner A and PSIA Telemark Level III certified coach. Accompanying him in Telemark instruction is Paula Riegel who is a PSIA Telemark Level II certified Instructor. Together they help the Telemark Center provide private lessons for first-time Freeheelers up to experts wanting to push their abilities. Lessons are available every weekend from Greg or Paula. Along with private lessons, the Kåre Andersen Telemark Center provides unique technical clinics for all levels of Telemark skiers throughout the entire season. Some topics include a pre-season primer, carving, introduction to bumps, introduction to trees, and off-piste tactics. All these specialty clinics are listed on the Events page on the Bromley website. The Telemark Center provides a distinctly unique opportunity to share in skiing history and become part of a tighter-knit family of Telemark skiers at Bromley. 

If not for many of these heavily influential people in the Telemark community, I would not have fallen in love with skiing and especially fallen in love with Telemark Skiing. Bromley is a hub for those free-heelers and it has been for over forty years! So, thanks to the curiosity and courage to spearhead of “TelemarkFil” and the passion of the Norwegian-Native Kåre Andersen, Bromley has established a deep footprint into the legacy of Telemark in North America.

I encourage you all to come be a part of skiing history and explore the family of Telemark skiers here at Bromley Mountain!