Local telemark skier up for the competition 

Video premier to raise money for competitions

WHAT: Unparalleled II Free World

WHERE : Maurice Young Millennium Place

WHEN: Dec. 27, 7 and 9 p.m.

Telemarking has been on the fringe of winter sports ever since people started locking their heels down and riding chairlifts – different strokes for slightly different folks who prefer the backcountry to the ski resorts.

A handful of freewheeling, freeheeling telemark enthusiasts, taking a page from the book of snowboarding and new school skiing, is looking to bring telemarking into the mainstream. They enter big mountain freeski competitions, slopestyle events, skier crosses, even halfpipes, showing everybody that telemarkers can truly do it all.

One of those new school telemarkers is Steve ‘Crazy’ Leeder, who moved to Whistler from Kamloops this year to be closer to the competitions. Until he tried telemarking three years ago he was an avid snowboarder. Now he finds snowboarding "boring."

"I just wanted to try something new," says Leeder, 23. "From snowboarding, it’s pretty easy to make the switch to tele’s. The stances are pretty close. I watched a couple of people to see what it was supposed to look like, and pushed myself to make it happen."

He started competing soon afterwards, entering big mountain freeski events. Last year was his first real competitive season, starting with the U.S. Freeski Open in Vail. As he travelled, he branched out into other events.

"I was the only guy on tele skis," he says. "At a competition at Snowbird, there was another girl, but I’m usually the only one. I get a lot of funny looks, freak a lot of people out.

"There’s not too many guys jibbing on tele’s at a high level, maybe six of us or so. We’d just like to see it go the same way alpine skiing is with the new school tricks. We want to see the sport keep growing, keep getting better, keep getting sicker. Cooler lines in big mountain skiing, bigger drops, bigger tricks at competitions.

"We can’t throw ourselves like (new school skiers Rex Thomas or Tanner Hall) yet, but we can keep up and do it with a lot of style."

Leeder, and other telemark skiers who have latched onto the idea of fat powder skis, twin tips, and trips through the terrain park, are featured in Unparalled II: Free World , a sequel to the last year’s Unparalleled – the first all-telemark movie to show the next generation of skiers.

The goal of the movie is to show off the cutting edge of telemark skiing, introduce the athletes, and to dismiss the popular misconception of what it means to freeheel.

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